Do You Love a Senior or Disabled Pet? Here's How To Modify Your Home For Them
Are you a pet owner? If you are, you are among the majority of households in the United States. In fact, as many as 66 percent of homes in the United States have a dog or cat, which equals 79.4 million homes. That number represents a lot of people enjoying the love and companionship of an animal.
Most of the time, you can add a pet to your home with very little thought for home modification. However, there are some instances when a little bit of change goes a long way to help your pet. If you have an older dog or cat, a pet struggling with mental health issues, or a disabled animal in your home, you may want to adjust some things about the home and your lifestyle to accommodate your pet’s needs.
Making these adjustments is not difficult, and most of the time animals require fewer adjustments than disabled humans, but they still are necessary for your pet to enjoy a long, healthy, and relaxed life in your family.
Pets with disabilities bring a tremendous amount of joy to the people who love them. Their ability to overcome obstacles can stand as an example to many, but sometimes they just need a little bit of extra help at home. In this guide, you will learn about some common ailments that today’s pets may struggle with, as well as the modifications you can make around your home to make them a little easier to manage.
In this article, we’ll look at:
- Seniors: dogs, cats
- Disabled: dogs, cats
- Mental health: dogs, cats
Dogs bring joy to their families along with protection and security. Yet when dogs need a little extra help, their owners are often left wondering how they can assist. Sometimes, your home itself can be challenging to navigate when your dog has special needs. Here are some strategies to help you modify your home and living environment to help you pampered pooch live just a little bit more comfortably.
Dogs are living longer and longer with the improvements in modern dog food and veterinary car. Today, it’s not uncommon to see a dog living to age 15 and older. It’s important to remember that dogs age much faster than people do, and to take measure to protect their comfort and health as they age.
What makes a dog a “senior” dog? For dogs, reaching the age of 15 is similar to being around 76 to 100 years old in human years, on average. However, large breed dogs may start reaching their senior years much earlier. It’s important that owners notice the signs of aging, like graying hair around the eyes and muzzle, less energy, less interest in food, brittle nails and thickened paw pads.
Just as an older human, older dogs struggle with things like arthritis, deafness, vision problems and even digestive problems. This may lead to changes that you need to make in your home environment to make it accommodate your pet’s needs. Here are some specific concerns older dogs may have, along with ways you may want to modify your home to better accommodate your pet’s changing needs.
Getting around gets harder with age. Here are some ways you can make sure your pet’s needs are met, even if his mobility has changed.
- Raise the food bowl. With decreased mobility, dogs may struggle to lower their heads to eat from a food bowl that is on the floor. Getting enough nutrition is critical to a healthy senior pet, so consider raising the bowl up. You can buy raised bowls that sit in cute little shelves, or you can simply put it on a shoebox or other item you already have around your home.
- Add more water bowls. It’s fine to keep the food bowl in the same place it’s always been, but consider adding more locations where your dog can get fresh drinking water; you can make these temporary, using floor pads and bowls, or even search for creative wall mounting strategies (particularly if your dog needs their bowl to be raised). This will ensure he’s always hydrated, even if he’s too stiff or sore to get to the normal drinking station.
- Use pet steps for areas where your pet may have needed to jump. Pet steps are shallow steps that dogs lacking mobility can use to access areas like the couch, car or bed.
- Consider toe grips or socks with non-skid soles. Placed directly on their nails, these can help dogs find greater traction on smooth floors.
Over 60 percent of dogs over the age of seven have arthritis in some form. This means your older pet is likely to be affected, and many times owners have no idea that their pets are struggling. If you notice stiffness, overall slowing, or actual limping in your dog, it might be a sign of anxiety; it’s always a good idea to check with your vet and explore treatment options. Additionally, here are some home modifications that can make it easier for dog with arthritis to get around.
Note: some breeds might be more inclined to develop arthritis versus others. Again, it’s a great idea to speak to an animal professional about these concerns and what sorts of preventive measures you can employ.
- Eliminate the need to use stairs. If you can change your dog’s sleeping arrangement and eating location so that she doesn’t need to use stairs, do it. This will help greatly with arthritis concerns.
- Add pet ramps indoors and outdoors. There may be places in your home where you can’t eliminate the need to use stairs, such as your front or back steps. Use pet ramps to give your dog access to these areas. You can also use pet ramps to give them access to the couch or bed if your dog is allowed on the furniture. Choose a lightweight option for furniture, and then move it from one location to the next so your dog can stay with you.
- Use anti-slip treads. If your dog can still travel up and down stairs, anti-slip treads placed directly on your home can help limit the risk of falling. These can be made of rubber or carpet.
- Use area rugs. These can alleviate the pressure on dog joints and make it easier for them to get around your home. Consider using plush fabrics that feel good on contact, and might even be slightly supportive should your dog lie down on them.
- Upgrade the bedding. Softer, padded, and/or orthopedic bedding will help ease sore joints. Invest in these beds, and consider making more soft sleeping spots for your dog. Place a bed near the bathroom and food areas to ensure that your dog has access to all of the necessities close to his resting space.
Urinary incontinence is a common problem for an older pet. While it can be disconcerting for your perfectly housebroken dog to start having accidents, remember that this is not due to any behavior issue. It’s simply part of life when a dog gets older, and it’s not something your dog can control. Consider these home modifications to help:
- Add a doggy door. If your dog has better access to get outside the first time the urge hits, rather than waiting on you to open the door, you may have better success avoiding accidents. Add the door in an area that won’t require many stairs to navigate.
- Install tile. Consider installing tile in the areas where your dog spends most of his time. This makes the accidents easier to clean up and far less damaging for your home. Hardwood floors can be destroyed with repeated exposure to urine, while carpets are difficult to clean.
- Use pee pads. If you notice your dog is having accidents consistently in the same place, put puppy pee pads in that spot. You just might have to clean up some soiled papers for a while, but it will save your floors.
Older pets have additional concerns, like having a hard time regulating body temperature or being more sensitive to mental stimulation. Here are some strategies to modify your home to help with this.
- Keep dog blankets on hand so your pet can always regulate their temperature as needed.
- Clean pet-specific surfaces frequently to prevent allergies and other illnesses from piling on.
- Keep your home in a comfortable temperature range. If you are comfortable, your pet is probably comfortable, but consider adding a space heater near sleeping areas to ensure your older dog is not suffering from any drafts in the winter. In the summer, use the air conditioner to keep your home cool enough, as older pets can overheat easily.
- Remember that stress is even harder on older dogs. Keep your home routine fairly steady, and avoid bringing any big changes into the home.
- Use white noise to reduce stressful sounds. While some dogs struggle with deafness as they get older, others will become more sensitive to sounds. Using a white noise machine can help reduce the number of sounds that they have to process, helping them enjoy a stress-free home life.
For more information about making your home comfortable for your senior dog, visit:
- Humane Society of the United States: Aging with Grace
- The Grey Muzzle Organization: How to Modify Your Home for an Elderly Pet
- DGP: The Best Ways to Care for Your Senior Dog
- Pet Coach: Nutritional Needs of Senior Dogs
Dogs are very adaptable, and many dogs can live happy, healthy lives, even with a disability. From mobility concerns, even paralysis, to loss of vision or loss of hearing, disabilities in your dog don’t mean you need to feel sorry for her. However, they do mean that you may need to make some modifications around home to help make life more manageable.
How can you modify your home to help your disabled pet? Take a look around, and determine if there are any risks that would hurt him due to his disability. Then, find ways you can make it easier to navigate the home even with the disability. In no time, you will have created a safe haven where your disabled dog can thrive. Here are some additional specific tips you can use to create a happy, healthy home for a disabled dog.
Blind or Visually Impaired Dogs
Dogs navigate the world using their senses of sound and smell much more than their eyes, but vision loss can be disconcerting to dogs. If your dog is blind or cannot see, here are some modifications to consider around your home:
- Keep furniture placement consistent. Don’t re-arrange furniture very often. When it is necessary, calmly lead your dog around the new layout several times to ensure he knows what the changes entail.
- Avoid roadblocks. Keep the floors and major pathways in your home clear of obstacles.
- Install a pet drinking fountain. Sometimes hearing the sound of water will make it easier to find the water dish when a pet cannot see.
- Make the yard dog safe. A fence is an absolute necessity when your dog can’t see. Remove other hazards that your dog would need to see to avoid.
- Get on all fours. Examine your house from your dog’s POV directly in order to make sure you don’t miss any hazards.
- Use safe essential oils to mark off objects your dog might bump into. The scent alone might be enough of a reminder to prevent harmful incidents.
- Use dog food to orient your dog in a new space. Moving can be hard on any dog, but using tasty treats can help guide them through and get familiar.
- Use distinctive fabrics and textiles to communicate with your dog. A certain rug could mark off the feeding/water area or a path leading outdoors.
- Use bells. Even an owner can sport a tiny bell to help their dog easily find them. Consider using different bells to denote different things, such as a different bell to open a door when it’s feeding time or to denote the least when it’s time for a walk.
Deaf dogs can typically navigate a home fairly well suing their senses of sight and smell. Here are some modifications to consider to make it a little easier.
- Train your dog to respond to a flashlight. At night, you aren’t going to be able to call your dog to come to bed. Use a flashlight to get his attention.
- Use fabric and textiles. Much like with blind dogs, these tactile sensations can be combined with feeding time, play time, walks etc. to help teach your dog what to expect and allow you both to communicate.
- Create a safe zone in your home for your dog. Deaf dogs are easily frightened when someone approaches and touches them while they are sleeping. Set aside an area in your home to be your dog’s safe zone, and avoid too many unexpected approaches when the dog is in that area.
- Confine deaf dogs carefully when outdoors. Deaf dogs cannot hear traffic or people yelling for them, so having a fenced-in yard is critical. If possible, avoid letting your deaf dog outside alone.
Paralyzed Dogs or Dogs with Mobility Concerns
When a dog cannot use all four of his legs properly, he is going to need some extra accommodations at home. Many dogs who are paralyzed or who have lost the use of some of the legs can be fitted with doggy wheelchairs to give them greater mobility. However, they’re still going to need some accommodations to enjoy life at home, like these:
- You must eliminate all stairs for a paralyzed dog. Even in a wheelchair, stairs are an impossibility. If you cannot rearrange your living areas so that your dog doesn’t need to use stairs, you must install a ramp.
- Use a harness or sling when needed. For those instances when you must take your dog up or down stairs, use a harness to allow you to lift your dog without adding more pain to his injured joints.
- Use dog wheelchairs. Combine with ramps within the home to make the entire floor accessible for your pup.
- Make walkways clear and wide. It takes a bit more space to navigate a home with a doggy wheelchair, so make the walkways in your home wide enough to accommodate the need.
For more information about caring for a disabled dog, visit:
Mental Health Issues and Dogs
Dogs, just like people, can struggle with mental health issues. Your dog can have problems as simple as separation anxiety and as complex as depression and even obsessive-compulsive disorder.
While mental health concerns and dogs are still an area under intense scrutiny and study, the fact remains that your dog may suffer from mental problems that make living a calm life at home challenging. As you attempt to help him with the help of your veterinarian, there are some modifications you can make at home to make life just a little easier. Here are some to consider.
Helping a Dog with Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression in dogs are closely linked, and these conditions affect many dogs. In fact, the American Kennel Club estimates 14 percent of dogs struggle with separation anxiety, which is just one of many ways this particular ailment manifests. You can tell your dog is struggling if he has a sudden change in behavior. If your normally happy, content dog suddenly stops eating or playing, tending to hide and tremble instead, it is probably either anxiety or depression. Either one needs to be addressed right away to ensure your dog is healthy. After taking your vet’s recommendations for treatment, consider these things you can change at home to help:
- Add engaging stimuli at home. A dog that is bored can become engaging and depressed. Find toy-dispensing treats and other ways to engage your dog’s mind.
- Consider bringing another dog to your home. While this isn’t a home modification, per se, it will modify your home and family, and it just might be what your dog needs to get over his depression. Be careful if the problem is anxiety, though, as many anxious dogs are also aggressive.
- Avoid anxiety triggers at home. If you know a certain thing is an anxiety trigger for your dog, try to arrange your home environment in such a way that those triggers can be avoided.
- Use weighted vests to calm anxiety. These vests place pressure on the right points on a dog’s body to alleviate anxiety. Use them well.
- Use lavender, chamomile, and other calming herbs in moderation. Check with your vet to make sure what you’re planning is safe, but using essential oils around the house can help you decorate, neutralize odors, and maintain the health of your household.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Dogs
Another concern you may need to deal with for your dog is obsessive-compulsive disorder. This disorder occurs when dogs compulsively and constantly lick, bark, chew, bite and even chase their tails, with no apparently reason. This is often a frustration response, and some changes at home may help solve it.
- Determine if your home has any frustration triggers. Eliminating stressors at home can help calm the behavior.
- Set up a video taping system so you can video your dog when you are not home to see if the behavior is constant. This will give you accurate information to share with your vet.
- Set up environmental enrichment. OCD can be linked to boredom, so set up a home environment where your dog has something to look at, like a dog television show, something to hear, like calming music for dogs, something to chew, and something to smell, like safe essential oils. Add puzzle toys to feeding time to add brain enrichment.
- Increase your dog’s exercise. Change your home environment so that your dog can get more exercise. Whether this means adding an additional walk or getting your dog a treadmill, the dog that gets enough exercise will exhibit fewer OCD tendencies.
Dementia in Dogs
In dogs, dementia is called canine cognitive dysfunction. This condition is typically associated in age, and around 68 percent of dogs between the ages of 15 and 16 have some signs of it. If your dog is showing signs of dementia, here is what you can do.
- Keep the home predictable. This is not the time to make big changes at home. Make sure it’s pet-safe as well.
- Make sure your dog sees the sun from his normal sleeping area. This will help him keep a normal sleep/wake cycle even while dealing with dementia.
- Keep toileting options readily available. A dog with this condition may not be able to make it outside, so add potty spots in your home.
For more information about dogs and mental health, visit:
- The Spruce: Introduction to Canine Mental Health
- BarkPost: 16 Signs Your Dog Has a Mental Health Illness
- PetPlace: Crazy Dogs: Can Dogs Be Mentally Ill?
- DogsNSW: Psychological Disorders
Cats come into your home on their own terms. They can be friendly and cuddly or elegant and aloof, but there’s no denying the fact that their people love them. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see cat owners make major modifications to their homes to make them more cat friendly.
Sometimes, however, cats will need a little more help to enjoy life at home to the fullest. Whether they are dealing with the symptoms of age, have a mental health concern or are simply dealing with a disability that requires modification, there are things you can do around your home to make life easier and more comfortable for your pet. Here you will see some of the ways that cat owners can improve their homes to accommodate their special needs cats.
As cats age, their bodies start to slow down and increased health concerns raise their heads. Increased veterinary care and improvements in overall cat care have led to increased lifespan for felines, and many cat owners are unaware of the changes that are necessary to keep older cats healthy and happy at home.
How can you tell if your cat is getting into that “older” range? Older cats may become less sensitive to sounds and smells and more sensitive to light. They tend to lose their agility and suffer from digestive difficulties. Typically speaking, cats reach their senior years around age 11, so if your cat is at or nearing this age, chances are you need to start thinking about some changes.
Around your home, you will find a number of areas where your cat may struggle as he ages. Here are some tips to help you modify your home to accommodate new needs for an older cat.
- If your cat is having trouble lowering down to the drinking and eating bowls, raise them with a box underneath. This can be a common problem, and you need to ensure your cat is eating enough to stay healthy.
- Increase the number of water stations in your home. The more access to fresh water your cat has, the better. Aim for at least one on every floor of your home to which your cat has access.
- Keep litter boxes handy. Make sure they’re easy to reach, and place one on every floor.
- Add cat ramps to make favorite areas accessible. Cats love to sit on windowsills and sleep in high corners, but an older cat may not be able to get to these areas safely. Modify your home so that you can add ramps to these areas to give your cat safe access to her favorite spots.
- Limit the need for steps. Try to arrange the home so that your cat doesn’t have to climb steps, and add ramps when steps cannot be avoided.
- Create low perches. Lower their normal spots or create more tempting perches with shelves, stools, ottomans, etc. at heights that are convenient for your cat while maintaining the views that interest them.
- Use nightlights. Help illuminate pathways and critical areas of the home (e.g. water bowls) to make life easier for your cat.
- Use baby gates. Blocking off difficult areas of the home might be possible using these gates, particularly for cats with limited mobility.
While all older cats will slow down and lose mobility, some will struggle with arthritis. However, most owners are unaware that their cats are suffering, because cats are experts at hiding signs of pain. It’s best to assume that your older cat is has some arthritis and make accommodations for her, rather than assuming she has no problem. Here are some additional accommodations to make for those with arthritis:
- Eliminate the need to jump. Jumping makes arthritic joints hurt. If you have a place in your home where your cat regularly jumps, add a ramp or low steps to eliminate the behavior.
- Upgrade the bedding. Choose softer, orthopedic bedding that is easier on the joints for your cat.
- Find ways to encourage light to moderate exercise. Things like spreading dry food around a room for feeding time can provide a tolerable level of activity that can actually help relief some of the pain and discomfort of arthritis.
- Make sure the litter box is as accessible as possible. In addition to placing it in an accessible area or adding another box or two, choose one with lower openings that is easily accessed by a cat who has mobility concerns.
- Have one litter box per cat. If you are a multi-cat household, make sure you have at least one litter box per cat. This will ensure that your cat has access to the box whenever needed, helping to prevent accidents.
- Place your cat’s bed in the same room as the litter box, but not too close. This will help prevent accidents.
As cats age, they may suffer from behavioral and psychological changes. Some will lose their hearing or sight as well. Here are some additional modifications you may need to make at home to help them.
- Keep litter box, food bowl and bed placement consistent. If you’re changing things around your home, don’t move these items, because older cats are prone to confusion.
- Have a safe nighttime sleeping area. Older cats may wake at night and be restless. If possible, create a safe area in your home, like a specific room, that your cat can safely explore in the dark, even if she’s confused and disoriented.
- Make the environment enriching with cat-friendly climbing structures and other toys. Mental health is protected when older cats are engaging their brains, so look for ways to increase this in your home.
- Choose or craft a horizontal scratching post. Cats need to scratch, but older cats may not be able to stand on their hind legs to scratch a vertical scratching post. Choose a horizontal one to fix this problem.
For more advice on helping modify your home for a senior cat, visit:
- VetChick: Making Life Easier for Your Senior Cat – 6 Easy Modifications
- 2nd Chance: The Special Needs of Old Cats – Caring for Your Older Feline
- Pet Coach: Normal Aging & Expected Changes in Older (Senior, Geriatric) Cats
- International Cat Care: Elderly Cats
- Pet Health Network” Caring for a Senior Cat – 7 Healthy Habits
Does your cat have a disability? Disabled cats can be quite an inspiration to everyone with their tenacity and ability to adapt, but that doesn’t mean they won’t need a little extra TLC from you. In fact, they are going to need extra understanding as well as some modifications around your home to make it easier for them to enjoy life at home with your family. Whether your cat is unable to walk and run normally, is struggling with blindness or has gone deaf, here are some guidelines you can use to make your home a bit more disabled-cat friendly.
Blind or Visually Impaired Cats
When a cat is blind, it becomes easily disoriented. To protect your cat, make sure that she is not given too much access to areas to roam. Here are some tips.
- Limit all access to the outdoors, unless supervised. If your cat is normally allowed time outside, make sure you only allow this when you can clearly supervise it. Otherwise, limit your cat’s area to just a safe area in your home.
- Consider fencing in your garden or using a harness with your cat. Supervise your cat while they’re outdoors and make sure to utilize a fence or similar enclosure since blind cats are easily disoriented.
- Don’t change the furniture, feeding spots, water bowl, or litter box. Your cat will learn to memorize the location of the furniture in your home, and moving his favorite couch could cause him to jump up and fall unexpectedly when the couch is gone. It’s especially important that the water and food bowls never move.
- Block stairways. Your blind cat could fall down the stairs because he cannot see them, so use a pet or baby gate to block stairways.
- If you move, confine the blind cat to one room at first. Gradually expand the range of exposure to prevent overwhelming it. Closely supervise your cat to make sure there is no distress.
Deaf cats are often able to adapt to their deafness quite quickly, so this may not be a cause for concern. However, if you are noticing that your cat can’t hear, or you have gotten a diagnosis of deafness from your cat’s vet, here are some changes you can make at home.
- Always signal changes with a visual cue. Whether you are going to pick up your cat or need to get her attention, use lights or hand gestures to give a visual cue of what is happening so you do not surprise or frighten your cat.
- Add a bell to your cat’s collar. Since your cat can’t come when called, add a bell to his collar so you can find him when you need him.
- Don’t allow outside access. A deaf cat would not hear an approaching car or dog or any other form of possible danger. Keep him inside for his safety.
Cats with Paralysis or Mobility Problems
Cats have an amazing sense of balance, and a cat who has lost a limb or even two can often adjust and be able to walk, run and jump almost like a normal cat. However, there are times when mobility is compromised due to a disability. Cats who can’t get around, either because of joint pain or because they have been paralyzed, will need a little extra help at home. Here are some ways you can make your home friendlier for your paralyzed or mobility-challenged cat.
- Improve the floor traction in your home. Slippery tile or hardwood floors will prevent a cat who is paralyzed from getting the traction necessary to drag their paralyzed half along with them. If you can, replace those hard woods with carpet. If you can’t, use throw rugs to provide plenty of surfaces that your cat can use. Even if you have a wheelchair for your cat, you won’t leave her in it 24/7, so add traction for the floor.
- Upgrade the bed. Cats who cannot move a part of their body are prone to pressure point sores. Use an orthopedic bed designed specifically to reduce pressure to help reduce this risk.
- Eliminate the need to jump. Cats who are in mobility carts will not be able to jump. Cats that are navigating without a cart, but who are dealing with paralysis, limb loss or loss of mobility, may try to jump but struggle. Eliminate the need to jump altogether by making favorite spots accessible via a ramp.
Spastic cats are cats who have brain damage that causes cerebellar hypoplasia, a condition similar to cerebral palsy in humans. This congenital condition can cause slow growth and poor motor control. These cats tend to be wobbly and a bit uncoordinated, and can also have head tremors. However, they’re also able to adapt to their disability and can enjoy an independent and healthy quality of life. If you’re lucky enough to love a spastic cat in your home, here are some modifications that might make it safer for them.
- Provide a safe landing zone. Spastic cats can climb and jump almost as well as normal cats, but they are a bit wobbly. So, if your cat is walking along the edge of a shelf or the fence in your backyard, he might fall. Make sure any favorite climbing areas are balanced with a soft place to land.
- Add a landing pad at the bottom of the steps. Cats with CH can navigate steps, but sometimes they will stumble or tumble. Make sure there is a soft landing pad at the bottom of the steps.
- Give your cat traction. Slick floors are hard for spastic cats, because they have balance problems. If you have hardwood or tile, use plenty of area rugs in your cat’s favorite locations.
- Keep them inside. These mobility problems do mean that free access to outdoors isn’t best for spastic cats. Take them outdoors when you can supervise, but keep them inside when you can’t be home.
- Choose an untippable litter tray with high sides. Your spastic cat may need to lean against the sides, and her jerky movements could cause it to tip. Make sure that you give her a litter tray that works with her condition.
- Provide support while eating. Cats with this condition may be too wobbly to eat in an upright position. Create a feeding stall that gives them support on either side to keep them upright while they eat.
For more information about caring for disabled cats, visit:
- CatChat.org: Caring for a Disabled Cat
- Our Happy Cat: Disabled Cats – How to Help Them Lead a Happy Cat Life
- Petcha.com: Special Needs – The Inspiring Lives of Disabled Cats
- Vetinfo.com Caring for a Disabled Cat
- Cats.org: Cats with Disabilities
Cats and Mental Health Concerns
Is your cat acting confused, aggressive or simply not like himself? Many cat owners are surprised to know that cats can suffer from mental health concerns. These problems can take a docile, happy cat and turn him into an aggressive and flighty one. It’s important for owners to know what to watch for in these problems.
Cats, just like people, can become dangerously anxious or depressed. They can also suffer from OCD, and there are a few cat-specific mental health disorders you need to be aware of. Any unexpected changes in your cat’s behavior can be a sign of a problem. If you suspect that your cat is struggling with mental health, the first step is to talk to your vet. Once you have a diagnosis, use these tips to modify your home to help.
Anxiety and Depression in Cats
Anxiety and depression can occur in cats because of changes to their environment, physical changes or psychological changes. While you may need medication to help, here are some ways you can help at home as well.
- Increase the amount of stimulation in your home. Get more games, grow some catnip and add treat-dispensing toys. Cats who are stimulated are less likely to be depressed or anxious.
- Remove clear stress triggers. Are there noises or objects in your home that clearly stress out your cat? If possible, remove them to help reduce that stress.
- Add more play times. Play can release some of the anxious energy and decrease problems with depression. Increase the number of play sessions your pet gets to have to improve overall anxiety and depression symptoms.
- Provide safe places to hide. Cats need places to hide in their homes. If your furniture does not provide this, add some cave-style pet beds in most rooms of your home or add some vertical cat perches. This can give your cat a place to escape when the stress becomes too much.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Cats
If you are noticing your cat compulsively repeating the same behavior over and over, then it may be time to talk to your vet. OCD is very real in cats, and it may need medication. After receiving your diagnosis, see if there are things in your home that you can change, such as:
- Keep home life consistent. Too much inconsistency raises stress levels, which can lead to OCD tendencies.
- Never reward or punish the behavior. Simply ignore the behavior. If the cat is hurting himself or something else, try to introduce a different stimuli to stop the behavior without addressing it directly.
- Increase positive stimuli. Add another play center. Create a cat playroom. Add some catnip toys. By adding stimuli, you will distract your cat from the unwanted behavior.
Feline Cognitive Dysfunction
Feline Cognitive Dysfunction, also known as senility or dementia, is a problem that occurs in elderly cats. It can manifest in anxiety, tremors, vocalization, licking, changing sleep cycles and changing interactions with the family. Here are some tips to modify your home as you help your cat through this condition.
- Get some more toys. Puzzle toys and outdoor entertainment, like a bird feeder your cat can watch, will help improve your pet’s memory.
- Avoid changes in the home. As your cat’s mental abilities decline, changing up the furniture can cause a serious reaction, so avoid this.
- Make the litter box easy to find and access. Place the litter box where your cat can easily use it, and make sure the sides are low enough for easy access.
- Limit access to stairs. A confused cat could easily fall down the stairs, so leave them inaccessible.
- Keep the sun visible in sleeping areas. Sleep-wake cycles are often disrupted with this condition, so make sure he is sleeping in an area where the sun is clearly visible.
For more help with your cat’s mental health, visit:
- Vetinfo.com: 4 Signs of a Mentally Ill Cat
- PetMD: Anxiety and Compulsive Disorders in Cats
- Cornell Feline Health Center: Neurological Disorders
- The Spruce: Reducing Anxiety in Cats
Keep Your Pets Safe at Home with Proper Home Modifications
Your pet is a part of your family. If your child needed some modifications at home, you would gladly do it; the same should be true for your pet. Many of these modifications require very little effort, but they can completely transform your dog’s or cat’s life for the better. Let them continue to enjoy freedom in and around your home, and give them support they need through a few simple home modifications.