Monday, May 1, 2017

"If I Fits, I Sits" aka Kitty Safe Spaces

Hello kitty cat friends 😺,

I recently shared a Washington Post article on my Facebook page explaining why cats love boxes and other small spaces. Cats like their solitude and can often feel overstimulated or uncomfortable in open space, especially if it's a new environment to them. Cats, in general, like to have places they can escape to and recharge their kitty batteries! This behavior also has to do with their hunter instincts. They like to hide so they can sneak up on their prey. Either way, cats like hiding places!

I know I wrote in a post awhile back comparing cats to introverts. This is a similar notion. Too much socialization makes me wish I could escape to my bed, get under my covers, and a read a book. Cats operate similarly, they need their space. The snugger the better too! I know when I have a place I can escape to that is quiet and safe I feel less stressed, and the same goes for cats.
"The cats-in-boxes issue was put to the test by Dutch researchers who gave shelter cats boxes as retreats. According to the study, cats with boxes adapted to their new environment more quickly compared with a control group without boxes. The conclusion was that the cats with boxes were less stressed because they had a cardboard hidy-hole to hunker down in." (Nicholas Dodman, Washington Post)
I always recommend to new cat owners or cats who seemed stressed with environmental changes (new home, new work schedule, new roommate, new baby, and etc.) to have a safe space for their cat. This safe space should be in a quiet area of your house and you can even create multiple safe spaces. Sometimes cats create their own safe spaces by hiding under the bed, in a closet, or claiming the laundry basket. Be mindful to close off areas that would be dangerous for your cat to hide like behind electrical appliances and the laundry room.

What I like to put in these kitty safe spaces is an enclosed/covered bed of some sort. A cat will feel safer in an enclosed box or bed than an open one. We have two kitty safe spaces for Chara, one in our dining room and one in a corner in our bedroom. This is the enclosed bed she has in our dining room.
Unfortunately, I've had this bed for awhile so I cut the tags off and don't remember the brand. That's ok because there are plenty of offerings of beds like these and in different styles in pet stores and on Chewy. You can even create your own if you're feeling crafty by making a DYI cat tent. The same can be done with a cardboard box, by cutting a hole big enough for kitty to get in and out of.

Whether you have a DYI enclosed bed or a one you bought at a store I recommend adding and towel or a blanket inside. This will make it more comfortable and warm for kitty. You can also put in a catnip toy or two that your cat loves. 

If your cat has chosen a tight space as their kitty safe space where you can't fit a bed you can add a blanket to that. I recommend still adding another safe space with an enclosed bed. Your cat may eventually find that more appealing than hiding under the bed if it's super comfy and quiet for them. Cats who likes to squeeze under the bed or other tight places isn't ideal for me as a cat mom because I can't really observe my cat or get to her easily in case of an emergency. I have encouraged Chara out of those teeny tiny spaces by adding other safe spaces and reinforcing her using those areas with treats. 

The kitty safe space is an area I tend to be hands off on around Chara. I give her her space there so she's comfortable knowing that it's hers and she won't be bothered. Sometimes, she'll welcome me with a meow and a purr and I'll come over and pet her over there, but only if I'm invited!

Kitty safe spaces are an excellent way to help your kitty feel like they have a space of their own in your home. Cats can easily be overstimulated and can be shaken up by small changes in your routine or their environment. A kitty safe space is a great place for kitty to know they can escape to when they need to feel more comfortable and secure. 
Do you have a kitty safe space in your home? If you don't, get to it! Your kitty will appreciate it. 

**NOTE: Please be observant about your cat's hiding behavior. If there are changes (i.e. hiding for extended periods of time, hiding more frequently, and/or avoiding eating and other normal habits) this could be an indication that your cat is unwell. Please take your cat to the veterinarian for a checkup before you'd address other behavioral concerns.

That's all for meow 😻!
Stephanie 

2 comments:

  1. I always wondered why cats are always hiding and sometimes in ridiculously

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