April 13, 2013

The True Nature of Cats, Part 3

If you haven't seen it yet, I wrote a post earlier about my half-marathon recap. You can read it here.

(This is the third post of a four-post series about The True Nature of Cats movement that I learned about at the Purina ONE headquarters. You can read the first post here, and the second post here.)

The first week, I wrote about food; last week, I wrote about play; and now I'll write about making our cats environment as close to nature as possible, while in a house setting.

Anyone who has owned a cat probably knows that cats like to be hidden. They love to watch what is going on without being seen themselves. This is part of a cats instinct, so it's important to allow them to hide. In nature, cats spend some time stalking their prey before pouncing, and the stalking involves watching without being seen. We can set up spots in the house for them to use their instincts to hide.

The Purina ONE headquarters has an entire room set up with tons of cat stuff--toys, cat trees, hiding places, etc. It was SO cool to see all the different ideas...

Estelle would have a field day in that place! They even had a spot set up where we could make a hiding box for cats (which they then donate to a shelter, which I think is really cool). But it would be cheap and easy to make a box for your cat like this one, using a cardboard box, some tape, and paper:

Cats also like to be up high. This is another thing they do in nature--climb trees to watch their prey without being seen. Ideally, we'd all have a tree in our house for our cats to climb, but that's not very realistic, obviously. So the next best thing is to provide spots that are up high for our cats to perch.

I have a cat tree that my cats love to sit on (I keep it next to the window, so they can look outside). I saw some cool shelves at the Purina ONE headquarters that great for cats; I think I may make one (stepping completely into the "crazy cat lady" shoes). It's a curved shape, which is more natural than a flat shelf.

They also had these AMAZING cat trees around, which I would love for my cats, but I heard they are something like $1200. My cats will have to stick to the carpeted tree, unless I can sweet talk my dad into making one of these babies...

(By the way, Purina ONE doesn't sell this stuff--they bought it to create an ideal environment for cats, to educate people on the nature of cats.)

Estelle can give you some other ideas of what kind of environment makes cats happy... ;)

Can you spot her in there? No idea how she did it, but she's lying on top
of the hangers without falling!

Boxes, bags, and any kind of nook or cranny cats can find make great spots for them to hide. Bonus if the spots are up high! This picture of Chandler is on top of my kitchen cupboards, and before he got too fat to get up there:

Cats have different preferences, and all four of my cats like different spots--Chandler likes to be up high, Phoebe likes to be outside (if she can sneak out) or on a lap, Estelle likes to be inside of things, and Paolo likes to be wherever is soft and cozy.

Speaking of cats going outside, obviously that's in a cat's true nature as well. But cats are much safer in the house, and statistics show your cats will live much longer as an indoor cat. But something we learned at Purina ONE was that you can train your cat to use a leash. There are special leashes for cats (a harness, rather than a collar). Purina ONE included a leash in the box of stuff they sent, so I gave it a try. My cats weren't happy about it, but maybe with some more practice they'll like it. A leash is a safe way to let your cat explore outside (if would be very different from walking a dog, however; you wouldn't walk around the block, but let your cat explore the bushes and trees and and all that).

On to the giveaway... :)  The winner of last week's canned food coupons goes to Lincoln! My boys found this picture hilarious:

Hahaha, he was having a ball with the toilet paper!

For next week, I have a coupon for an entire case of canned Purina ONE food (24 cans total) that I will be giving away. To enter, send me a picture of your cat in his/her "true nature"--where they like to hide or spy on you ;) Use the subject "Happy Cat".
This is the box that the toys from Purina ONE came in--
Estelle claimed the box instantly!
I only got about 25 photos for this last giveaway, so I didn't put them into a slideshow this time--but I'll save them and maybe make a slideshow next week, including those pics then.

Don't forget, the three food winners will be given the chance to win a big package of toys and puzzle feeders and cool cat stuff from Purina ONE! This will be your last chance, so make sure to find a cute photo of your kitty in his/her true nature ;)


  1. I love that real tree! Not only would our cats love it, but it would look very pretty in our house.

    We bought the Purina One "Healthy Metabolism", based on your recommendation. They LOVE it, and I'm so happy they have a food that's much higher in protein and lower in those crappy fillers/carbs. They're eating much less and seem happier and satiated.

  2. I have really enjoyed reading your Cat posts. We have one cat (her name is Scamp) that is leash trained. I think the key to this is to start them on the harness and leash when they are little. We let her outside on her leash and take her for walks on occasion. You are right, she doesn't really walk like a dog but likes to sniff and explore. I have however seen a cat on the sidewalk in NYC that was walking on a leash like a dog. It was pretty cool. I'm sending you a photo of Scamp that was taken in the car. She is a great traveler and we take her pretty much everywhere with us. Oh.. and that cat tree is so cute! I may have to see if I can make something similar.

  3. Eh, I'm not really a cat person, but these posts are really interesting! How is Chandler's weight coming along?

  4. I love these posts. Bags and boxes make our Neva very happy. I AWW'd out loud at the "kitty on the hangers". So cute. Have a great day, thanks for sharing the kitty info.

  5. I LOVE the picture of Estelle in the coat hangers...cats are amazing!!

    As I was reading this, I was amazed at how much I can see of my cats in your posts...it's neat to get insight into why they do the things they do. At least now I know why they insist on getting up on my cupboards, counters, and tables! (Doesn't mean I have to like it, lol!)

  6. Hello Katie!
    We wanted to thank you for what you do and comment on this latest blog. We are the people who craft the REAL Trees you have pictured here. We first wanted to let everyone know we do offer a full line of Trees with prices from $120 on up and also offer great ways to make it possible for everyone to give their cats a great habitat! Our most important goal is to have everyone understand WHY we do what we do and WHY cats do what they do! Being a part of Purina's True Nature of Cats movement is not only an honor, it is a great opportunity to share our knowledge of instinctive cat behavior as it relates to their environmental needs. We LOVE cats! Thank you again for blogging this and if you get a chance, stop by our neck of the woods Pet Tree Houses

  7. Melissa (@mrsridley)April 15, 2013

    LMAO at Estelle in all her hiding spots!

  8. One of my cats likes to bite plastic bags or tape, any idea why that is?

    1. That's really interesting, and I think I may actually know this one :) Cats like the crinkly noise that plastic makes (a lot of cat toys actually have something in them that makes a noise just like it). I just bought my cats a fabric bag that they can hide in, but the whole bag has that crinkly material inside of it, so it makes lots of noise. They love to lie on top of it! I would look for a toy with that material in it, and see if your cat goes for that instead of the plastic bags :)

  9. I had two indoor cats as a teenager and tried everything possible to use a harness with a leash in order to take them outside. Even though they were young when I started trying to train them with the harness, it never seemed to work. For some reason, regardless of how loose the harness was, both cats thought they were immobolized as soon as the harness was put on. I tried letting them wear it inside the house to get used to it and taking them outside so that they might forget about the harness when something they wanted to play with distracted them. The most movement that I ever got out of them was, instead of laying on their sides immobile, one of the cats would flop violently from side-to-side. The closest thing to describe this would be a fish out of water. After a few weeks of harness "training", I gave up. Has anyone else had an experience like this? Were you eventually able to use the harness successfully?


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