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Enriching your Cat's Lifestyle!
Aromatherapy has become popular as a means of promoting health, curing
sickness and providing a sense of well-being ("wellness") in humans. Did you
know that aromatherapy can benefit cats too?
Of course it has to be their own particular favourite smells. Strong fish
smells for example are well-known as a means of tempting cats to eat when
they have lost their appetite.
The Catnip (Nepeta cataria) plant is probably the most potent aromatherapy
agent for cats, and its power to induce kitten-like play behaviour in cats
has been used to reduce aggression.
Aromatherapy and taste-enhancement are two of the ways in which Professor
Robert Young (Professor of Animal Behaviour at the University of Minas
Gerais) suggests that we provide more "Environmental Enrichment" (EE) for
our animals. He writes in the world's first comprehensive manual on the
emerging art and science of EE for domesticated animals.
Details of his book on EE, which has just been reprinted after selling out,
can be found he
"Environment Enrichment" is not just about improving the happiness and
well-being of our animals, it has huge implications for building disease
The plain fact is that bored and frustrated pets, and pets in an environment
which they find threatening (e.g. a cat eating and sleeping in a place where
it can smell strange cats) are just like bored, frustrated or restless
children - i.e. very prone to develop:
a) antisocial behaviours (fighting, urinating and defecating in
b) self-destructive behaviours (e.g. self-injurious self-licking and
In addition, boredom, frustration and misery (depression) are also proven
now to be bad news for the immune system and disease resistance.
Wild felines and other animals have a range of ways in which they keep
themselves healthy, and these have been succinctly reviewed by Cindy Engel
in her study "Wild Health", see
To return to "Environmental Enrichment", they say that there is "nothing new
under the sun" and enriching the environment of our pets e.g. by providing
safe (to other animals and birds) outlets for their hunting instincts is not
entirely new. However, there is much we can learn from the emerging art and
science of EE in which carers for a range of animals (including zoo and
domestic cats) are pooling their expertise and combining it with scientific
investigations into the stress-reducing and health-promoting benefits of EE.
Wishing everyone and their cats an enriched lifestyle!
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