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5 Tips that will give you happier, friendlier kitties

I teach for Miami University's Global Field Master's Program and am the author of two children's books promoting conservation. I am the publisher of The Tiniest Tiger website.

Here's what you can do to make sure you're raising a happy cat

Our cats Annie and Eddie are now adolescents. They are full of energy, entertaining to watch, and bring joy and love into our home. In order to keep them both happy and healthy in the great indoors, we make sure to provide them with an enriched environment and opportunities to slip off and enjoy the quality alone time they need.

Raising happy, healthy and friendly cats is the goal when you bring a new cat into your home. If you are so inclined, one of the best ways to raise a happy and friendly cat is to adopt two cats. Not only will they double the love and entertainment for you, they will keep each other company and perhaps keep each other from getting into too much mischief if they're left home alone or get bored.

1. Provide environmental enrichment

This will encourage them to engage in their natural behaviors. Hunting, stalking and pouncing are all part of a cat’s natural play behavior, so when they can satisfy these needs, they will be happier. Make sure you also choose a cat litter brand that’s made with natural ingredients like Feline Pine™, which uses the deodorizing power of 100 percent natural pine!

Here's what you can do to make sure you're raising a happy cat

Image: Mats Hamnäs/Flickr

2. Experiment with different types of toys

Toys are one way to keep your cats active. Eddie loves to play and will entertain himself for hours with a wand toy that we have attached to the door frame so that he can interact with the toy without our assistance. Eddie also loves small furry toys, and his favorite is a little stuffed piggy that he carries around and protects every day.

Here's what you can do to make sure you're raising a happy cat

Image: Aris Jansons/Flickr

Annie prefers to play hide-and-seek, and we take the time every day to play with her. She is so much fun to interact with from her little wiggly behind as she prepares to pounce to her big eyes as she sneaks around the corner.

Annie and Eddie also play tag at night. We love to hear their little paws as they scamper down the stairs and back up the stairs, skidding around corners until they finally come to settle down and sleep.

3. Make them feel at ease

Create several comfortable environments for your cats around the house. This will help them feel at ease when spending extended periods of time by themselves. Annie and Eddie were bonded in their cage at the Humane Society, but just like us, cats have a need for their own space and time alone. Your cat’s territorial needs are hardwired, and even though a territory will overlap in the outdoors, cats use their pheromones as social signals to let the other cats know they are time-sharing the area.

We dedicated several places throughout the house for the cats to perch. We cleared off a desk and a dresser to provide the cats separate high spaces to seek refuge. We added a couple of cave-style beds for the cats to snuggle inside when they feel the need to be alone.

Here's what you can do to make sure you're raising a happy cat

Image: Carlos Castro/Flickr

We added two more litter boxes to our home to allow each cat to have privacy using the box and avoid feeling trapped when nature calls. Try to have one litter box per cat, plus one extra. We have three cats, so we provide four litter boxes.

We provide three different dining locations for the cats even though most of the time, they eat their meals together.

Annie and Eddie love to spend time on the cat tower in the sunroom. We have several bird feeders and a squirrel feeder placed strategically around the sunroom windows for maximum viewing. All of our cats can bird-watch without being on top of each other.

Because Annie gets a bit excited, we secured the windows in the sunroom with C-clamps to keep the windows from opening wide enough for her to slip out. All of our windows have screens, too, but when Annie is super-excited watching birds or squirrels, we won’t take the chance she could bust through the screen.

4. Never punish by yelling

Yelling, swatting at or scaring your cat will make them to go into total defensive mode. It might even encourage them to seek out a hiding space where they might remain for a long time. Your cat most likely won’t even meow or come to you when called if they are afraid. This defensive mode is hardwired into cats as protection from predators. People assume cats don’t care or like them when they won’t come when called, but this is absolutely not true. Cats are misunderstood. Your cat is doing what she instinctively knows to do, and that is hide in silence until there is no more threat. For this reason, calm and reassuring training is the best solution for your cat.

Here's what you can do to make sure you're raising a happy cat

Image: hiromi kobayashi/Flickr

5. Shower them with love

You often hear people saying that cats are independent and don’t need much attention. This is not the case. Your cat needs attention and love daily to keep her friendly and happy in your home.

Here's what you can do to make sure you're raising a happy cat

Image: chamico/Flickr

Providing an enriched environment with private spaces, food and love, along with proper veterinary care, will go a long way toward keeping your cat happy and friendly.

Disclosure: This post is part of a sponsored collaboration between FELINE PINE™ Cat Litter and SheKnows

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