Written by: Judy Karnia, DVM
Continuing on the topic of the five freedoms that are necessary for our cats to be healthy and happy, the second freedom is freedom from discomfort. This means that we need to provide an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
Indoor cats are sheltered from many outside dangers that could cause discomfort. However, being indoors does not mean that they are immune to discomfort. Indoor cats should have access to soft bedding where they can rest easily. They should also be in a low stress environment. This means controlling the temperature within the house so that the cat does not become too hot or cold. Additionally, we need to provide noise control – many cats are scared by loud or random noises, so we should minimize these as much as possible. Cats also need access to natural light. Your own cat probably loves to look outside the window and watch the birds and other animals. They also probably enjoy lounging in the sun. We need to provide accessible windows and areas for sun-bathing.
Outdoor cats are exposed to many more threats that can cause discomfort. Nevertheless, there are things we can do to help minimize discomfort. Providing shelter, such as an enclosed crate or box, can shelter outdoor cats from the environment. We also need to ensure that their access to food and water is free and easy; if the food is near a stressful trigger, like a loud air-conditioning unit, this could cause discomfort and scare the cat. While ice is not a common issue here in Scottsdale, heat is certainly something we struggle with in the summer. Providing shelter from this heat and making sure the water and food we provide is out of the sun is important for our outdoor kitties.
Sheltering our cats from discomfort and stressful situations is very important but not always something we actively think about. If you are sure to take these factors into consideration, you will be helping your cat to live a healthy and happy life.