First published in July/August 2006 Edition
Health and well-being will be more easily maintained if the cat is living in a stress-free, cat friendly environment. If the cat goes out, it is important that it does not become chilled if it gets wet. The fur should be dried off as soon as it comes home and a warm, cosy bed away from draughts always available.
For the cat that is confined to home or garden, human companionship and a variety of stimulating toys will help. These do not need to be expensive or sophisticated - even elder statesmen cannot usually resist interactive games involving pieces of string, cat mint mice, ping-pong balls or scrunched up balls of kitchen foil. Large paper bags and ridiculously small cardboard boxes are always irresistible to even the most dignified of cats and will provide both cat and owner with hours of entertainment. A carpet scrap or scratching post will ensure claws are kept well stropped while a large clump of cat-mint in the garden or growing in a pot indoors will keep a cat happily ‘sozzled’ for hours. If there is a vantage point for the cat to perch while snoozing or watching the world go by, so much the better. A very useful product to use in the home is a Feliway diffuser (Ceva Animal Health). When a cat feels safe in its environment, it rubs its head and face against familiar objects marking them with substances called facial pheromones; these convey a message of well-being, calm and absence of stress. Feliway contains a solution of a pheromone that mimics the cat’s own facial pheromones. A Feliway diffuser placed strategically in a room occupied by the cat or near its bed can prove extremely beneficial to its general state of well-being and calm.
For the owner whose cat is an incorrigible fighter that cannot be totally confined and where fracas with local homeless strays are a constant nightmare, one solution is to round up each one in turn, test for FIV and if negative, neuter then rehome or if positive, euthanase. Radical maybe - but it has certainly worked wonders for the writer’s nerves and the well-being of her FIV-positive cat, not to mention the welfare of the local feline population!