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Pillar #1 Provide a Safe Space

At Aristokatz, we are always striving to be up to date on all things kitty. Dr. Katz and Vet Tech Nicole have both attended conferences this year for continuing education. We think the Environmental Needs Guidelines presented at the AAFP virtual e-Conference are important and timely for all cat owners to understand, and we will be presenting this information in a multi-part series in the newsletter. You can see the May blog here. Below Nicole discusses the first of the Five Pillars of a Healthy Cat Environment.

At Home

The first of the five pillars for feline environmental needs is to provide a safe place in their home. As defined by the AAFP and ISFM guidelines, a ‘safe place’  is a private and secure area- often in a raised location.  Cats seek out these safe places to feel protected from potential threats. They often prefer enclosed spaces that provide both a sense of isolation and seclusion.

These designated safe places will serve as resting and sleeping areas where cats feel at peace and can fully let their guard down. Concealed areas can be as simple as a cardboard box or a pet carrier that is left out for them all the time. Kittens instinctively seek out these covered areas to hide and will find shelters to give them protection and security from threats. Cat carriers that smell like home are a consistent source of comfort when transported as they have shelter and scents from home & family. Perches up high in the home will enable cats to have a ‘bird’s eye view’ that will give them the security of managing any potential threats within their environment. Shelves and perches should be big enough to allow the cat to be fully outstretched and secure enough not to fall. Hammock style perches with raised edges will give them a sense of ‘sinking in’ and hiding from threats and could be preferred.

In multi-cat households, it is suggested that there are as many ‘safe space’ options per cat in the environment. In multi-cat households with a more dominant personality cat there should be safe options for rest that have open entry points to prevent the cats from being blocked from exiting. Safe spaces may become compromised if negative experiences occur where the submissive animal feels trapped and/or threatened by another animal. If there is a resting area that has multiple entry/ exit points they have the option to leave and have easy escape routes. Elderly cats with mobility issues and kittens should have safe space options at lower levels that are accessible at lower heights or with ramps for assistance.  

At the Vet

Here at Aristokatz we provide a calm and safe environment by having a quiet, clean, and dog-free spaces. The big windows with windowsill perches provide a space for the cats to feel secure and up high to observe their surroundings. Calming agents in the room include their carriers and scents from home, calming pheromone sprays, and ‘less is more’ stress-free handling techniques. Often at the vet office we will let them stay in their carriers as much as possible during an exam or give them breaks from handling to decompress from any anxiety or fear.  We can also utilize towels and blankets to cover their heads because if the cats cannot see potential threats they feel safer and anxiety levels experienced during any procedure lessen. In between visits each room is cleaned and disinfected for their protection and to remove scents from other animals.

(Adapted from the AAFP and ISFM Feline Environmental Needs Guidelines, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.)

At Aristokatz we are always striving to be up to date on all things kitty. Dr. Katz and Vet Tech Nicole have both attended conferences this year for continuing education. We think the information above is important for all cat owners to understand.


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