We love our cats. They’re there when we need emotional comfort and they brighten our days when we come home from toiling away at work. Our cats know when we’re sad and are ecstatic when we’re happy. They own a special section in our hearts, and we would do almost anything for them. They are, in a sense, family.
Unfortunately, for many of us who live in apartments (and small homes), we aren’t able to replicate the space for adventure and stimulation that our beloved cats need to live longer active lives and have a better overall quality of life. Most of our cats are indoor cats, and only a fraction of us have the option of letting our cats roam outdoors. This lack of stimulation can affect the mental health and well being of our cats, especially as they get older.
If you’ve had an indoor only cat before, then you might have noticed the “changes” your little buddy goes through as he or she got a bit older. They aren’t quite the same as you remember them over time. Oh, no. I’m not talking about the difference between your kitten and what he’ll be as an adult. I’m talking about that point when your adult cat becomes senile and develops the disturbing symptoms of the feline version of Alzheimer’s disease.
Feline cognitive disorder, often called “senility” or “kittie Alzheimer’s disease” by many pet owners, is a common condition seen in cats 7 years of age and older. As a result, any therapy that can treat and possibly prevent cognitive disorder in cats would be appreciated by cat owners.
What would Feline Cognitive Disorder look like in your cat, you’re probably wondering, right?
- Aimlessly wandering, lonely around the house
- More and sometimes louder meowing that sounds like weird chatter or gibberish (God, I’m getting sad just thinking about it)
- Pooing and peeing in random places away from their litter box.
The worst of these symptoms is the possibility that your cat will no longer recognize you (or your family) as a friend and may hiss or attack you when you give them more attention than they can handle (which doesn’t have to be much).
Thankfully, there are ways we can simulate the ideal environment for our furry loved ones that promote physical and mental health. And we can do so without losing valuable space for ourselves in our own homes or without the risk of letting them wandering the great outdoors. Below, I’ll list some of the best and necessary additions to your apartment that will keep your cat(s) happy and sharp. I’ll also explain why it’s necessary, so stay tuned!
1. Cat treadmill wheel: $299 – $535
Why you need this:
Lets face it, almost all cats are active. At least, that’s what they generally want to be. And depending on the breed that you have, like the Abyssinian or the Siamese, your cat might require ample space to run and play, or she’ll lose her mind (see above). That’s where this cat exercise wheel comes in. This wheel adds miles of jogging and running space in the 34″ x 12″ area you decide to place it.
An active cat means a healthy cat with a longer life expectancy, and that also means less time and money spent in the vet. Your cat will maintain a healthy weight and avoid the myriad of diseases that accompany feline obesity.
Association for Pet Obesity and Prevention found that more than half of our cats in the US are either overweight or obese, which leads to arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. With an exercise wheel like the One Fast Cat, and a reasonable feeding schedule, your kitty will be among the 39.6% of fit and healthy cats.
2. Cat Tree: $97
Why you need this:
Cats need height. A perch, if you will. Our cats find safety in being able to look down on and survey their territory for danger. Without that ability, they will be more prone to stress during high activity moments, such as when encountering other cats at home, or when your company comes to visit, especially if that company involves young kids. Your cat having peace of mind means a much lowered chance of odd behaviors, such as withdrawal, and urination in places that aren’t their litter box.
The above cat tree serves two more purposes besides having a safe surveilling location.
First, it provides fun and excitement for your cat. It’s an obstacle course that runs vertically, so your cat can climb til her heart’s content, without losing important apartment space for you. Your cat will enjoy running up and leaping from this cat tree when they are filled to the brim with energy. Also, periodically placing your cat’s feeding bowl in different places on their cat tree will activate their instinctive ability to hunt for food, greatly improving their quality of life. Just don’t put their food in the same place daily. Don’t worry about teasing your cat. Your cat needs this kind of mental stimulation regularly. He will most certainly find his food.
Secondly, your cat tree becomes a scratching deterrent for your furniture. The secret is to keep the cat tree near your furniture. The above cat tree is a much more attractive piece of furniture to scratch than your $2000 living room set, especially when the support sections are treated with catnip spray every so often. Why? Because your cat will know that it’s theirs. Although scratching posts aren’t mentioned in this article, having an extra scratching post or scratching board placed near your furniture will prevent virtually all cat damaged furniture.
Why you need this:
Window bird feeders for your cat are the equivalent of Cable TV for you. Your cat enjoys stimulation, especially that of the outdoor variety. The desire to pounce on the small birds that perch in your bird feeder excite your cat. They brighten your cats day making him play more vigorously.
Keying in on the most important reason for having a window bird feeder: your cat will benefit from constant mental stimulation that will keep them mentally young deep into their elder years. As with other items in this article, this bird feeder will contribute to keeping feline cognitive disorder at bay.
Why you need this:
There are a few cat pheromone products on the market, but one thing that can’t be denied is their effectiveness.
Full transparency: Every cat won’t be effected by pheromone diffusers, but most are. Keep your receipt in the event that things don’t work out and you want to return it. Before you decide to get your money back, give the diffuser at least 2 weeks to change your cat’s behavior. As you may see in online reviews, your cat’s behavior may change seamlessly, and the differences may not be apparent until you stop using the diffuser.
To sum things up, what this cat pheromone diffuser does is put your cat at ease. I can imagine some of you are probably saying, “Okay, and…..?” If your cat is agitated or under stress, they will double down on their territory presence. In pure English, your apartment will start to smell like piss. Your furry angel will start to spray, marking your apartment in an attempt to let others know that he or she runs the show, as well as to increase their peace of mind.
Cat pheromone diffusers give them that peace of mind. But here’s the great thing, you won’t smell anything. Nor will your guests. Only your cat will notice.
One final point. These diffusers are a Godsend if you have multiple cats and there’s trouble in paradise. If your cats fight often, these cat pheromones will certainly keep the peace.
If you have more than one cat, this version may be more effective.
5. Food Puzzle : $19 & 6. Cat Feeding Station: $30
Why you need these:
You may have read my recent statement above, about mixing up where your cat eats it’s food. Well, food puzzles and cat feeding stations like the one above are an additional tool to mentally stimulate your cat. The ideal use for the food puzzle, feeding station, and food placement on the cat tree is to keep your cat on its toes.
Cats are natural hunters, and we as people stifle the desire that cats have to hunt and search for their meal, because we want to pamper them. Ladies, gentlemen, cats are not people. We appreciate being pampered. Cats appreciate the thrill of the chase. They want to use their senses to locate their dinner like they would in the wild.
Now granted, random placements may not always be possible without being detected by your inquisitive cat. Especially if you regularly feed your cat at a specific time. Or if your cat goes into high alert at the sound of a can pop. You may not be able to feed your cat without them following you. That’s when having food puzzles and feeding stations becomes invaluable. It doesn’t take away from their excitement and mental stimulation, even if they know where their food is, because they still have to work for it.
You heard it here first. The way you’ve been feeding your cat(s) is wrong…. IF you care about their quality of life. We spend so much time bringing them into our world and treating them like we do ourselves, that we forget that they’re cats and find enjoyment in different ways than we do.
7. Cat Antioxidants / Multivitamins: $26 for 96 doses
Why you need this:
Not only do multi-vitamins bring the best out of any cat, including a boost in energy, a healthy coat of fur and better resistance to illness and disease, the antioxidants in the above cat supplement work to battle the potential development of Feline Cognitive Disorder. Before I get deeper into Feline Alzheimer’s disease, I want to make a quick point about the multi-vitamin half of this supplement.
Just like we mistake cats for being human, in regards to things like feeding, we ignore the fact that cats need multi-vitamins like we do. Sure, cat food is better than it used to be, but they are far from being nutrient dense. That’s where a multi-vitamin supplement comes it. Adding a dose to wet cat food is all you have to do to fill in the nutritional gaps that the cat food we buy doesn’t.
Based on research from Biomedcentral , this is how cats develop Alzheimer’s disease : A build up of protein known as Beta-Amyloid in a cat’s brain prevents the neurons, or brain cells, from firing properly. Neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that the brain’s neurons use to communicate, are also reduced. Formation of this protein begins in the brains of cats as they become older than 7- 8 years old.
In order to delay or stave off the affects of feline Alzheimer’s disease, your cat needs a diet rich in antioxidants and multivitamins. For clarity’s sake, in a health journal we found on ScienceDirect.com, it is stated that antioxidants don’t quite remove Beta-Amyloid from our cats, or any mammals for that matter. The purpose of antioxidants in this case, is to protect neurons in our cat’s brain from the neurotoxicity of Beta-Amyloid, thereby reducing oxidative stress on the brain, and the debilitating affects of Alzheimer’s disease. With added antioxidants to your cat’s meal, there’s a higher chance that your cat will live a full life without the heartbreaking burden of Alzheimer’s.
HM 1. Cat Condo: $65
Why you should have this:
Having a cat condo such as this one gives your cat a reliable place to hide when they feel threatened. Places to hide give your cat added peace of mind knowing that they can escape to safety when there’s too much action for him to deal with. With a “safe” place to escape to from “danger”, they are less likely to be under extreme and extended stress. Which, like I mentioned before, will prevent your cat from needing to mark it’s territory for their own piece of mind.
Why you should have this:
Your cat needs regular mental stimulation. You already know this fact. But who has the time to play with Mittens every day? With this remote controlled / autonomous cat toy, you can give your cat added stimulation without having to put important things on hold. This remote controlled “mouse” will taunt and run from your cat as he begins to give chase, with no input from you at all. Then, when you’re free to play, you can really step up the challenge and control this mouse with your smart phone.
HM 3. Cat nip spray: $15 for 4oz Bottle
Why you should have this:
The affects that catnip have on cats are amazing to see. Cats (who are affected) absolutely love and gravitate towards the smell of it. With catnip spray, almost anything you want your cat to play with or interact with, will be subject to increased curiosity.
The best way to use catnip spray is in the introduction of toys and new additions to your cat’s environment (that isn’t off limits).
Full disclosure: All cats are will not go ga-ga over smelling, or even eating catnip. Some breeds just won’t react to it. For that reason, you should save your receipts if it’s possible to return your catnip for a refund.