We’re excited to introduce you to the SHINE Framework, created by the Waltham Petcare Science Institute (Mars Petcare’s science hub, dedicated to pet health!) and developed by their expert in animal behaviour, Dr Tammie King.
As cat owners we are responsible for our cats’ wellbeing, both physical and emotional, but understanding the emotions of our cats often isn’t as simple as monitoring their physical health. This is why Waltham and Dr Tammie King came up with SHINE, to help us better understand our pets’ emotional needs and help us to achieve the healthiest and happiest lives for them.
The SHINE Framework covers five dimensions, all of which are vital for cats and dogs to live happy and fulfilling lives. SHINE stands for Socialisation, Health, Individuality, Nutrition and Environment, and we’re going to take a closer look at each dimension.
Positive socialisation experiences are positive exposures to new environments, experiences and interactions which help your cat develop into a confident and well-rounded pet. Ongoing exposure to a varied range of people and pets, as well as sights, sounds, scents and situations will help to set strong foundations for their development into a behaviourally healthy cat, and one who will remain happy throughout their life.
Emotional wellbeing can only be achieved when your cat’s physical and mental health is also good. Preventative healthcare, good nutrition, exercise and mental stimulation are all required for cats to stay happy, and their moods will change if they’re in pain or injured. And it’s important to remember that as cats age their health requirements may change!
Every cat is an individual. Their individuality is the sum of their characteristics, temperament, learned behaviours and personality traits, and it’s what makes a cat unique! All these things are influenced by a mix of nature and nurture factors, like genetics, neutering status, life stage, sex, and past experiences. Cats are happiest when they’re given the freedom and opportunity to express their individuality through natural, species-specific behaviours—and their own preferences.
Nutrition is vital for your cat’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, and it’s not just the food itself that matters; when and how your cat is fed are also important factors. Food provides the balanced nutrition that your cat needs to thrive, but feeding also plays an important role in delivering enjoyment and pleasure!
A cat’s environment can be a source of comfort, or one of stress—and sometimes it can be both. The ideal external environment is cat-centric and caters to your cat’s individual physical, mental and emotional needs and preferences, changing and adapting to your cat’s needs as they develop or change over time. For a happy and fulfilled life, your cat’s environment should balance levels of comforting predictability with stimulating novelty, as well as providing choice and enabling agency, allowing them to express their individuality!
Understanding Our Cats’ Emotions
Body language is often where we can best try to understand our cats’ emotions, and you can take a look at our past article on cat body language to find out more. SHINE includes helpful visuals to explain what our cats might be feeling when they demonstrate certain types of body language, which you can find here: