All cats need to have their natural ‘prey sequence’ satisfied. As guardians of cats, we are responsible for ensuring that such innate needs are met. Prey sequencing is a pattern of behaviors that follows the same sequence every time. For cats, there are two components, stalking and catching, that comprise a four step process listed below. Have you observed your cat exhibit these 4 steps?
- Step 1 - Staring
- Step 2 - Stalking/chase
- Step 3 - Pounce/grab
- Step 4 - Kill bite
Playing is one way that cats demonstrate the prey sequence. Did you know that different types of toys or enrichment will elicit different components of the prey sequence? If we play with our cat and elicit only the chase component (as is the case with laser pointers) we may not be fulfilling all of the cat's needs. Fortunately, there are any number of free or commercially-available items that can be used to address the entire sequence. This is important since cats view toys as their prey and instinctively perform the prey sequence with their toys.
Your cat needs this sequence satisfied not only at home, but also during boarding periods. The Hotel 4 Cats highly recommends that you provide your cat(s) with his/her favorite toys during their vacation boarding period. Such toys help enable them to have a satisfied, active and playful time while they act upon their instinctive need to stare, stalk/chase, pounce/grab and go for the kill bit during their time away from home. Your cat’s toys from home also help keep him/her calm with familiar loving scents from home.
Review the 20 frame sequence below and see if you can determine the frames that depict each of the four components. What prey sequence does your cat’s toys supports?
We invite you to read our next week’s blog to get additional ideas of types of toys and ways your cat’s environment can be enriched to stimulate each prey sequence.
The above has been adapted from an Animal Behavior Institute (ABI) study guide.