(Gillette, Wyo.) House cats have unique needs that are not always readily apparent to their devoted owners. Needs that can be explained by the animal’s evolutionary history and a general understanding that these “perfect predators” in our living rooms are, in all actuality, easily stressed and fairly delicate creatures.
On Dec. 2, an unusually warm Saturday, Main Street was a buzz of activity as local residents walked in and out of stores seeking to complete their holiday shopping. But a select few made it readily apparent that they were not there to exclusively shop.
Their numbers hovered around 10, who opened the doors to Alla Lala Cupcakes and Sweet Things to step inside, seeking expert advice on their favorite feline companions during the Kitty Cats and Cupcakes event put on by the Fur Kids Foundation.
According to Megan McManamen, event organizer who has been involved with the FKF for years, the event was something of a new oddity for the foundation.
A cat person, McManamen said that though the FKF has put on events such as the Pooch Plunge and the Pet-A-Palooza in the past, an event that focused exclusively on cats was not something the foundation has traditionally done.
“So we just thought we’d [FKF] try it and see what kind of opinions people give,” McManamen explained.
McManamen stated that cats are different from other pets with their unique needs and that the event would be a good way to provide an opportunity for cat owners to learn more about their animals.
Dr. Diane Ernst, a veterinarian from the Animal Medical Center of Wyoming, was on hand to provide expert advice on feline behavior, stresses and how owners can help their kitties have a long and happy life.
Cats often display unrecognized stresses that are not easily recognized, both by experienced cat owners and new owners, which can be triggered by simple, every day things.
Bringing in a new couch, for example, is not considered to be a particularly stressful things for humans, but can have a massive impact on a house cat, Ernst said.
“You’ll find that these cats are often stressing,” explained Ernst.
Taking into account the modern evolutionary belief for cats, another factor can contribute to the animal’s undue stress.
“Cats are very uniquely positioned on this tight rope between being predator and being prey in the wild,” Ernst said.
While cats are widely considered to be very efficient predators, they are also small enough to have a history of being preyed upon by larger animals, Ernst said.
“It goes back for eons,” Ernst said.
Ernst explained that cats may have a history of being prey for early canids and even primates. Given the modern scenario that cats are often placed in, with dogs and humans, it’s no wonder that cats can be so stressed.
But once owners recognize that their beloved feline companion is stressed, they can take steps to help alleviate that stress.
Cats need both physical and mental stimulation to remain healthy, Ernst said.
Owners can play with their cats on a more regular basis and can begin implementing a system that allows the cat to work for their food, which is not an unkindness, according to Ernst.
Cats have a natural need to work for their food as predators and feeding into that natural instinct, only serves to help the cat cope with stress.
There are many other ways to help a cat cope with stress, including training, and there are multiple websites out there that list these things out.
For more information or to seek local expert advice, owners are encouraged to contact their local veterinarian with any questions.