Top tips for reducing feline stress

SureFlap webinar provides insight into the complex territorial routines of cats 

Turf wars often end up with an injured cat in the surgery.  SureFlap, the microchip pet door company, has been told by vets that they often ‘prescribe’ a selective entry cat flap to help reduce stress caused by conflict.  It has teamed up with animal behaviourist Jon Bowen BVetMed DipAS(CABC) MRCVS to understand how simple modifications to the cat’s environment can improve its quality of life.  His advice is now available as a free webinar that is eligible for one hour of CPD certification.

Jon Bowen, a Behaviour Consultant for the Royal Veterinary College, explains that a cat is designed to spend around 50-60% of its time surveying its territory and hunting, and free access is important to its well-being.

“A cat relies entirely on its territory to supply all of its needs, so although they try to avoid fights, they will defend their territory against intruders.

“Cats lack the sophisticated behaviours that dogs have developed for appeasement. Instead, they have a range of signals that are designed to make the other cat back down such as a bushy tail and vocal signals  – if these are ignored then it may escalate into a fight and this is bad news. Cats carry bacteria in the mouth, which causes abscesses to form and prevent wounds from healing, so the cat could die from its injuries if they are left untreated.

“To avoid confrontation the cat has also developed a system of marks and sprays to allow timed access to shared spaces within it’s territory. There is a core zone, which would include the house, with several points of entrance and exit, that is used for resting, grooming and recuperating, this is where it should feel safe from intruders.

“Timing is very important to the cat, with the most active times being dawn and dusk.  Their routine is very strict and they like to be at particular places at particular times in order to hunt or protect their territory with fresh marks.

“This means that free access to outside space is very important. If it becomes delayed on its routine patrols it will be more likely to meet an aggressor. Additionally intruders in its core zone can be very stressful, so a cat flap that allows the cat to control its own movement and prevents access to outsiders is important to maintaining its safety.”

In the webinar Jon Bowen explains how the domestic environment impacts on the cat’s territory and the stress this creates.  He also offers practical advice on how the owner can make the space feel safer for the pet.

To view the webinar click here

Written by Rachel Holdsworth

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