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Latest Topic:Environmental Enrichment

Environmental enrichment can be defined as enhancing the health and welfare of captive animals by modifying their environment. While cats are  not commonly considered to be captive animals, many cats and dogs in North America are housed exclusively indoors, effectively living in captivity. Environmental enrichment lowers the incidence of "sickness behaviors" (non-specific signs that may include vomiting/diarrhea, decreased food/water intake, elimination outside the litter box, lethargy, decreased activity and grooming, and decreased social interactions). The basic approach to enhancing indoor cats' environment is straight-forward. Ensure that all cats in the household have unrestricted access to basic resources and as much control and predictability of the environment as possible. Basic resources include: (1) Provision of a food container, water source, and litter box in a safe, low-traffic area. (2) Accessible materials that can be scratched and climbed on. (3) Uninterrupted rest areas. (4) Opportunities to play and interact with other animals, including humans, on the cat's terms. (5) In multiple-cat households pay special attention to the prevention of "resource guarding" by ensuring plenty of everything, and to the quality of interactions between cats. (NAVC Clinician's Brief, Sept. 2011)

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