Cats are often casualties of the modern urban environment. Their natural habitat is desert savannah, with one mile between feline territories, plus they should dine on mice and other small rodents which they have had to use ingenuity and training to catch.
It is we humans who have taken this intelligent and complex creature, called it cat and shared our hearths with it. And thus have we profoundly changed the rules, especially in the cramped living spaces and hurley burley we now call modern living.
Cats being the highly adaptable animals they are (felines occupy every ecological niche on earth except Antarctica) have fallen in with us in trying to make this thing work and sometimes their efforts are not appreciated.
Where once cats were prized as rodent catchers, they are now despised as bird destroyers and where once it was only rare for one cat to meet another, now they can see and smell lots of other cats in backyards and across balconies. Many cats now live without ever touching grass and what is a car to a cat? No wonder 5 to 10 percent of cats lose the plot and need antidepressants and behavior modification therapy!
If your cat is showing signs of feline stress, such as not using the litter tray, or attacking you, your friends or every neighborhood cat, there are many avenues of assistance, starting with your vet. However, this little story is about appreciating the cat for what it is and helping to design an environment that will enrich its life and thereby enrich yours!
Everyone in the modern world is more confined — who sees children walking to school or playing on the streets anymore? Timetables are crowded and ‘home time’ is often brief and largely dormitory (my cats can understand why I like to sleep a lot at home, but they want some playtime with me too!), so even time with your cat has to be built into your day!
Remember that the more you put into your cat, the more you get out of it and as I suspect the dog lovers have stopped reading by now, I will just throw in that cats are hard to train because they are smart and are very good at being cats, which isn’t always what we want! However, you can train cats and you can contain them, so they can’t hunt, get run over, be attacked by dogs or get lost.
The urban feline can be prevented from hunting birds by wearing a Liberator collar (it beeps as the cat launches its attack, thereby giving the bird more warning so it escapes, as even double bells tend to go quiet on lift-off). All forms of trauma can be prevented by enclosing parts of your garden or balcony with big cages (e.g. cat module parks or aviary-types structures), so your cat gets a room with a view but no danger. Cats will walk on harnesses (particularly the accident prone Burmese and Siamese breeds) and will come when you call (if it is REALLY worth their while).
Wandering cats can be reliably returned if they are microchipped (and tagged, but so many cats shed their collars when they get lost), but they may also get lost, run over, killed by dogs, stolen, abused or maimed and they predate on wildlife and fight other cats. It is really your responsibility how YOUR cat spends its life — there are few free spirits left in the city, but everyone is entitled to the best chance of happiness that they can! See what you can do to create a kitty paradise in your home!