As much as we love them and consider them part of the family, it’s important to remember that cats are not people; they’re living beings with their own nature, which revolves around three main instincts: hunting and feeding, cleanliness and reproduction. To allow cats to achieve their full potential and build good relationships with them, we have to keep in mind the particularities of their species. That’s why this article focuses on cats’ natural instincts and how to respect them.
Hunting and feeding: cats are predators, with a highly developed hunting instinct that’s manifested in tracking, exploration and territorial activities. The urban domestic environment considerably limits these activities, so it’s important to offer cats all the necessary outlets to satisfy this instinct. Scratching posts let them mark their territory, and smart toys keep their predatory skills sharp. You can also hide food or treats in different parts of the house to encourage them to exercise their curiosity and instinct for exploration.
Cleanliness: cats have a very keen instinct for cleaning, and are extremely sensitive to smells. Maintaining a well-kept litter box and a clean environment that’s free of odours is the best way to guarantee that they can satisfy their instincts for cleanliness. If your cat isn’t using the litter box correctly, try changing its location and the type of litter. Above all, make sure that you always keep it clean and change the litter regularly. If you don’t have much time to worry about the litter box, choose a low-maintenance litter.
Reproduction: cats’ instinct for reproduction is manifested in various behaviours that can be bothersome for their owners (for males, greater aggression and territory marking with urine; for females, miaowing when they’re in heat). What’s more, when animals are unable to satisfy their natural reproductive instinct, they can fall ill and develop aggressive or unusual behavioural patterns. Although controversial, neutering may be an appropriate measure for your pet. It can improve their quality of life, as well as that of your family.
Living in a domestic environment prevents cats from developing many of their natural instincts, which may result in stress and health problems. We hope these tips can help make your cat happier, allow you to better understand your feline friends and learn to love them while respecting their nature.