Hey everybody, Whinny, your favorite clinic mouse is here today to spin a yarn about the tantalizing world of emotional well-being for cats. Now, when you’re a mouse navigating a clinic filled with these enigmatic feline creatures, you learn a thing or two about their secrets to happiness. And of course, I learned almost all of what I know from the late, great Tony. He’ll forever be remembered here at Springhill Equine. This blog and all my others are dedicated to him. So, give extra snuggles to your favorite feline friend, because we’re about to embark on a meow-gical journey into the world of cat emotional wellness.
Safe Havens and Cat Castles: Creating Stress-Free Sanctuaries
One secret to maintaining your cats’ mental harmony lies in providing safe spaces. Whether it’s a towering cat tree or a cozy escape room, these spaces are essential for those moments when your cat needs some time to recharge. It’s a bit like having your own mouse hole to escape to when things get too hairy. These should be individualized to each feline; some prefer cave-like hideaways while others prefer freedom in the tree-dom.
Now, I must mention the importance of vertical territory. Most cats adore high perches, and these “cat castles” not only fulfill their inner jungle-cat fantasies but also serve as a refuge away from other household pets (pronounced “dogs and kids”). It’s similar to a watchtower in the midst of a bustling kingdom. Just like mice require hidey-holes, cats require cat trees of some variety. In a paw-fect world, the vertical spaces create a super highway throughout the home, giving the cat the option to leave an altercation with a dog, another cat, or a vacuum cleaner and migrate to another part of the household.
I know the world is not always perfect—if it was I’d have a lot more cheese than I do right now—so a more obtainable goal might be to have vertical territory for cats in any dead ends or narrow alleyways in the home.
The Litter Box Labyrinth: Keeping Stress at Bay
Ah, the mystical litter box, a place of solitude and contemplation for our feline friends. It’s vital to have an ample number of these for your fur babies. Why, you ask? Well, it’s like having a choice of restrooms in a giant labyrinth. More boxes mean less stress because no cat likes to wait in line for the loo. The rule of paw is this: have one more litter box location than the number of litter box users. So you can’t just have three boxes next to each other in the garage for your two kitties because that would be only one sanitation station. This also means your only child cat gets their very own two litter box locations. Five cats? Six litter box locations. Are you picking up what I’m putting down?
Whinny’s Wisdom: Always have one more litter box location than the number of litter box users in the home.
Now, remember, my fellow mouse-eyed friends, the litter box isn’t just for business. Cats are incredibly finicky about cleanliness, and a dirty box is like a porta-potty at a beer and brats festival (it starts out good, but rapidly turns into a disaster). Keep it clean and pristine to keep your cat’s mood as fresh as a daisy. Scoop out those boxes at least once per day, though some cats require twice.
And of course, just like cats have individualized needs for their safe havens, some have individualized needs for their litter. If your cat starts getting pickier about their litter box, stops using it as regularly, or a new cat won’t use it at all, I recommend a “Litter Box Buffet” to determine the type of box and litter that cat prefers. Set up a variety of types of boxes and litters all in a line—separate locations don’t matter in this particular experiment—and pay attention to which strikes your feline’s fancy. Then, replace the relevant boxes with the preferred choice.
Feliway: The Pharaoh of Pharaoh-Mones
My dear readers, there’s one hidden treasure I must bring to your attention before we part: Feliway. This over-the-counter pheromone product is like the grand protector of your cat’s emotional well-being. It mimics the pheromones cats release from their cheek glands, essentially marking whatever they rub on as “safe.”
It’s like an invisible fortress that tells your cat, “Hey, this place is the bee’s knees, no need to stress.” You can use it during stressful times like vet visits, and even for everyday happiness in your cat’s favorite corners. It’s like the soothing scent of a cheese wheel to a mouse – simply irresistible. Feliway comes in a collar, a spray, and a room plug in. The collar and room plug in each last for about a month at a time. You can use all three, or pick one to two. If the issue is room specific, the plug in and maybe the spray are your best bets. If the issue is more internalized to that cat, definitely go with the collar, and maybe use the spray on a few choice things like their bed or scratch post.
When the Basics Won’t Cut It—Controlling Stress at the Vet
Stressors like vet visits and dreaded car rides can turn even the proudest of cats into frazzled furballs. But fret not; we have some tricks up our tails to help our feline friends find their inner zen. Feliway can definitely work it’s magic here—spraying down the carrier or a towel prior to take off can help remind kitties that they are still safe. Arriving to your appointment on time or just a few minutes early and giving your vet the heads up that your kitty is a bit stressed can help the staff get you into a quiet room soon to avoid nosy canines in the waiting area. Skipping breakfast that morning can help your cat be more willing to take goodies offered during the exam like Temptations treats or Churu.
For those cataclysmic cats that can’t calm despite all of the above, there’s a purr-fect solution – Gabapentin. This prescription medication can help decrease anxiety and stress, allowing our feline friends to travel or undergo necessary check-ups with much less ado. It’s like a little mood booster for those who get jittery about leaving their cozy cat-castle. Talk to your veterinarian about picking up some Gabapentin to give prior to the vet visit. Typically, we will have you give a dose the night before the big event, and then the morning of. This medication can make a few kitties wobbly on their feet, but fear not, it is very safe and it helps keep our vet team safe while we address all your kitty’s health needs.
Feline Stress Complications: Urinary Blockage
Let me remind you of a grave concern – the specter of urinary blockage. This life-threatening complication often stalks young to middle-aged, neutered male, overweight cats. Stress can play a major role in its development, hence this terrifying tangent.
You see, when cats are stressed, they often drink less water, and this and some other factors can lead their bodies to form crystals or stones in their urinary tracts, leading to blockages. A urinary blockage in any animal is a life-threatening situation that requires immediate veterinary attention. Preventing stress with the measures we’ve discussed can be a key factor in keeping these issues at bay. It’s like protecting your castle from a mouse invasion – stress is the enemy!
A Final Paws for Thought
As we conclude this meow-gical journey into the enchanting realm of cat emotional well-being, I hope you’ve gained some insights into the delicate world of our whiskered friends. Remember, they have their quirks and eccentricities, but beneath that fur and those whiskers, they have a heart that purrs for love, comfort, and serenity.
So, give your furball plenty of safe spaces, cherish your Feliway, and create a stress-free haven for your four-legged friend. And always remember, stress is a mouse’s greatest enemy, just as it can be for your beloved feline.
Until next week, keep your tails high and your spirits higher!
P.S. In case you missed the news, Adventures of the Horse Doctor’s Husband 3 is out! You can scroll down just a bit to the green banner and click on it to go to the Books page on my website and check it out. And while you’re scrolling down, pause at the purple box and subscribe to this blog, if you haven’t already! You’ll get it a day or two before everyone else, and it will show up right in your email! As Tony used to say: you’re welcome!
Whinny’s Wisdoms is the official blog of Whinny the Clinic Mouse at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!