Whilst there are already a number of cat containment suburbs across Canberra, from the 1st of July 2022 all new cats in the ACT are required to be contained to their owners home, or on a leash if outdoors.
Cat containment not only helps to keep your cat safe from dangers such as cars and traffic, snakes and cat fights, but is also crucial for the safety of our native wildlife.
Cats are natural predators and domestic cats have been shown to hunt and kill a wide variety of native and non-native wildlife in our region. Many Canberra suburbs are close to nature reserves, areas set up to protect native wildlife. Allowing cats to wander away from their home brings them into these protected areas where they can prey on small birds, reptiles, and small mammals.
Cats are adaptable creatures and with the right environmental enrichment, can live very full and happy lives whilst contained.
BASIC ENVIRONMENTAL NEEDS FOR INDOOR CATS
Your cats basic environmental needs are crucial in setting your cat up for success in an indoor only environment. These basic needs can be broken down into four main pillars;
1. Providing a safe space
For a cat, a safe place is a private and secure area, often in a raised location. These features give the cat a sense of enclosure, isolation or seclusion. A safe place is one that a cat can retreat to so that it feels protected such as an igloo or a perch/hammock in a raised location
2. Providing separate key resources
This is especially important in multiple cat households. Each cat in your household should be offered their own food, water, litter trays/toileting areas, scratching areas, play areas, and resting or sleeping areas. Each key resource should be placed in it’s own location, separate from other key resources.
3. Providing opportunity for play and predatory behaviour
Cats need ample opportunity to mimic predatory behaviour such as hunting, chasing, pouncing and capturing in their day to day life. This can be achieved by hiding/scattering food, using puzzle feeders and implementing play with toys such as feather wands and teasers.
4. Provide positive, consistent and predictable human–cat social interaction
Cats are companion animals that benefit from regular, friendly and predictable social interaction with humans. Many cats prefer a high frequency, low intensity level of social contact with humans, a scenario that gives them a good deal of control. It is important to remember that you should never force an interaction with your cat. Let them initiate, choose and control the type of human contact they desire.
ENVIRONMENTAL ENRICHMENT FOR INDOOR CATS
Environmental enrichment is important to keep your pet happy, active and stimulated in an indoor only environment. Without environmental enrichment some indoor cats may become frustrated, bored and even stressed or destructive. Here are some great ways to enrich your cats life;
- Consider investing in or DIYing a secure outdoor cat run so that your cat can enjoy the great outdoors in a safe and controlled way
- Encourage foraging and hunting behaviours with food puzzles, games and toys
- Provide a comfortable resting area close to a window that your cat enjoys looking out of
- Hide your cat’s favourite treats around the house and let them use their powerful noses to seek them out
- Provide multiple dedicated scratching areas/posts
- Cats enjoy exploring vertical spaces. Placing hammocks, perches or shelves at varying heights are a great way to allow your cat to jump, climb and explore. Always make sure these are safely and securely fixed to your walls before allowing your cat access.
- If your cat enjoys water play, encourage your cat to ‘go fishing’ for a ping pong ball or brightly coloured marble in a sink filled to a low level with water.
- Some cats enjoy watching or listening to nature sounds on the television, try popping Animal Planet on the TV and watch how your cat responds.
- Laser balls/toys can be a great way to allow your cat to use their natural hunting instincts such as chasing and pouncing. Always keep play sessions short and end on a high note before you see any signs of frustration or over arousal.
For further information or questions on the environmental needs of your cat, please get in touch on 6230 2223.
Further information on ACT Cat Containment laws can be found HERE.