Become a “Catvocate!”

Hello, fellow cat lovers! I have a confession to make.

Yep, I am just going to admit it. I am a passionate, cat-obsessed veterinarian, and I want to create a movement. The Catvocate Movement.

I know that you are passionate about your cats, too. I want to share with you the best and latest information on feline environmental enrichment available from veterinarians, behaviorists, and scientists.  Together, we will understand how our cats’ living environment affects their mental and physical health. Together, we will raise the standard of care for our cats. We are advocates for cats — Catvocates.

What are your values as a cat parent? The vast majority of us consider our cat to be a member of our family. We share our living space, financial resources, time, and affection with our cats. Some of us even feel that our cats are aware of our emotional highs and lows, and can even understand some human conversation. One early survey found that 97 percent of owners talk to their pet daily and 58 percent regularly talk to their pet about important matters.

For all these reasons and more, we want the very best for our cats. However, what’s best for humans isn’t always what’s best for cats. Treating them like treasured human babies may not be meeting their innate needs and may in fact be causing problems. And cats do not have a lot of overt and direct ways of expressing their needs. Our lack of awareness of our cats’ innate needs may lie at the heart of many feline behavioral problems.

When we understand the innate needs of cats, we can provide for them. When we meet their needs, our cats become happier and healthier, and many of their undesirable behaviors resolve. For instance, knowing that cats are born predators who view our homes as their hunting ground helps us to provide opportunities for them to hunt in an indoor context. We can make small changes in their environment and how we approach their care to meet their needs. When we do that, we can advocate for what they both need and want.

Together, we will dive into the current scientific and veterinary research on feline environmental enrichment. We will explore where cats come from, how they exist in nature, and how they interact with each other, with us, and with the world around them. We will learn how to make them happy and contented.

I invite you to join me, offering observations and suggestions, sharing stories about your feline friends. Send me videos of your cats and links to your favorite cat videos.

Together, Catvocates, we will raise the standard of care for all cats and spread the word about how cats can be truly happy.

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT