Confessions of a Cat Whisperer
Cat behaviourist Mieshelle Nagelschneider reveals mistakes cat owners make – and how to fix them
DON’T TREAT CATS LIKE DOGS
A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to raising four-legged friends can have disastrous consequences. “We can end up creating cat issues by treating them like dogs. Cats are not fully domesticated and still have many of their wild cat instincts.” These instincts explain curious cat behaviour such as perching high (keeping an eye on potential predators) and refusing dayold water (they are hard-wired to be wary of bacteria).
Cats prefer to use more than one litter box. “In nature, cats like to separate urination and defecation behaviours. In the home, having just one box can cause a cat to urinate outside of the box.” Nagelschneider suggests providing one litter box per cat, plus one more, and distribute them throughout the house. However, “multiple locations actually trump the number of boxes”. Another cat instinct is to bury their waste. In the wild this throws predators off their scent. In the home, if they can’t mask their scent in the litter box, they’ll go elsewhere. Fresh, clean litter and regular scooping will prevent mess... and other consequences. “A third of all cats surrendered to shelters are there for litter box issues.”
THE CAT ROOM
Fight the urge to cluster your cat’s scratching posts, perches and beds in one designated room. Scattering pet paraphernalia around the house more accurately reflects conditions in the wild and reduces competition between cats. Also, separate the food and water bowls as cats instinctively avoid water near dead prey.