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Pets

Five top tips for contented cats

You'll be a cat whisperer in no time

Feline behaviour expert Molly Kelsey shares her wisdom with five ways to keep your cats content at home
1. Ditch food bowls
Make mealtimes fun and satisfying by providing activities that mimic the way they naturally eat food – by hunting it first. Use food puzzles or toys that release the food when tapped with their paw. You can buy these or make them using toilet rolls, cardboard boxes or muffin trays.
2. Introduce training
Yes, cats can be trained! Teach them to sit on command, ring a bell to go outside or walk themselves into their carrier. Not only does it make life easier, but it's great bonding too. Use clicker training to teach. Kids really enjoy being a part of this.
3. Keep them separated
For more than one cat, ensure each has their own set of resources. That's food and water bowls, litter trays, cat towers, scratch posts and even their own safe spaces where they can retreat to alone. This reduces risk of competition and conflict, and therefore multi-cat tensions. We have all our own things, so why shouldn't cats?!
4. Play every day
Play with your cats every day, even as they get older. Playtime is good for directing their energy, bonding and keeping their brains sharp – and they love it! Cats who are played with daily have lower levels of stress and inflammation in the body, plus it gives you a chance to check them over physically. Find what excites and motivates them. Try feathered toys you wriggle on the ground, balls they can bat, toys that fly in the air, wands, tunnels, etc. And pick a good time to play – if your cat can be active in the middle of the night, do a play session before bed to get rid of the energy.
5. Provide vertical space
This gives the cats a vantage point in your house where they feel space, as well as a form of exercise. Cat towers or climbing posts need to be a decent height – 80cm or higher. You can even line shelves with offcuts of carpet.
For more from Molly, visit thecatcounsellor.com.

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