We all love our cats, and as cat owners we’re responsible for our cat’s physical and emotional wellbeing. Understanding our cats’ emotions isn’t always easy, and until Google Translate launches a cat-to-human translation option, it can often feel like guesswork. That’s why we’re excited to introduce SHINE: a framework to help us better understand the emotional needs of our pets.
Created by the Waltham Petcare Science Institute, Mars Petcare’s science hub dedicated to pet health, SHINE has been developed by Waltham’s animal behavioural expert, Dr Tammie King.
SHINE covers five key dimensions vital to a happy and fulfilling life for cats and dogs: socialisation, health, individuality, nutrition, and environment. It has been developed to help us achieve the happiest, healthiest lives for our cats (and dogs) and help make a better world for our pets.
Let’s take a closer look at the five dimensions of SHINE, and what they mean for our cats:
Socialisation is the process of exposing cats to unfamiliar situations and environments (as well as new experiences and routine activities) in a positive way. It helps cats develop the social behaviour and skills they need to grow into happy and well-rounded family pets, and while it’s particularly vital for kittens, it remains important throughout their lives.
Good physical and mental health lay the foundations for optimal emotional wellbeing, which is why preventative healthcare, exercise, good nutrition and sufficient mental stimulation help to keep cats happy! If they’re injured or in pain, their moods will change too.
Every cat is an individual: their characteristics, temperament, learned behaviours and personality traits make them unique, and are influenced by factors like genetics, sex, their neutering status and life stage, as well as past experiences. Cats are happiest when given the freedom and opportunity to express their individuality through species-specific natural behaviours that fit their own preferences.
Feeding isn’t just about providing the balanced nutrition that your cat needs to physically thrive. It also plays an important role when it comes to enjoyment and pleasure, and it’s not just what your cat is fed, but also when and how they’re fed that affects how they feel on a daily basis.
A cat’s environment can be a source of either stress or comfort to them, and sometimes it can be both. The ideal environment is cat-centric, and catered to your cat’s unique and changing requirements and preferences—physical, mental and emotional. It should also promote and encourage your cat’s own physiological health.
Providing your cat with a happy and fulfilled life means finding the right balance between comforting predictability and stimulating novelty in their environment—as well as providing them with choices to enable their own independence.
Understanding Cats’ Emotions
When trying to understand our cats’ emotions, body language can often offer us the most clues. We’ve already covered some basics on cat body language and what it can tell us, but SHINE includes helpful infographics to better illustrate what our cats might be feeling.
You can find out more in the SHINE framework for cats which is full of helpful information for cat parents.
22/09/2022 by NatuTeam