CREATING A CAT SANCTUARY: TIPS FOR A CAT-FRIENDLY HOME
Your cat has impeccable taste. When you offer anything subpar, from food to accommodations to entertainment, they size it up with a sniff and give you a judgmental look that says, “Really?” And you were so sure they were going to love it.
What you need is a style cat-sultant! Simply peruse our tips and ideas for creating a space that’s not only cozy, comfortable and clean, but also luxurious enough to suit the lifestyles of the furry and fabulous.
Your cat’s sleeping quarter
Considering the countless places and positions cats sleep in, you might not think the accommodations matter. Well, press “paws” on that notion. From pink tufted pillows to cat-head-shaped caves, the right bedding is key to quality catnapping. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Your cat’s sleeping habits
If your cat is a sprawler, a mat bed is your best bet. You can opt for a simple, scratchable mat designed to be regularly replaced, or treat your fine feline to a four-post canopy bed with a dreamily soft cushion. If your furball sleeps more like a, well, fur ball, cat cocoons (aka cave beds) provide your cat enclosed comfort and security with an inexhaustible variety of themes and colors. Just be sure to match the bedding to your cat and their preferred sleeping style.
Location, location, location
No matter how comfy your bed is, if it’s in the wrong place, you won’t get your beauty sleep. Same goes for your cat. If your cat’s preferred napping nooks include a warm air vent, a favorite window or a spot with some altitude, that’s where you want to set up the new bed.
Content and cleanability
Natural materials come at a premium compared to synthetics, but cotton and wool are gentle on sensitive cat noses, contain fewer chemical odors and breathe better than synthetics. Bedding should be fairly easy to clean by hand or in a washing machine — either way, follow the care instructions closely.
If your cat is getting on in years, they likely need some extra pampering. Because they often lack the muscle and tissue mass of their prime, they can be a bit bony. Treat them to a bed that’s sumptuously soft and not too difficult to get in and out of in case their joints aren’t what they used to be.
Slimmer seniors are often more sensitive to the cold, so if your home doesn’t have enough sufficiently warm spots, try a cat bed with a plug-in heated mat. Choose a model that safely maintains about 38.5°C, which is the average normal body temperature for cats.
Tried and true
Some cats aren’t happy with anything but the iconic cardboard box, but even this option offers upgrades. It might seem silly to buy a cardboard box for your cat (especially if it ships to you in a cardboard box), but consider that these are made with cat-safe materials, whereas you don’t know what adhesives and other chemicals could be present in a random box. Purpose-made cat bed boxes come with features such as thick layers of removable scratch pads, sides that taper outward to a 45° angle for optimal cat comfort and even a plastic comb fitted into the side so your cat can happily scratch-scratch-scratch their chin.
Your cat’s dining hall
When it comes to quality dining, ambience and accoutrement can be just as important as the food. Your cat expects the best from their dining experience, which is probably why they’re skimping on tips. Try these tasty ideas for turning your hairball stand into a Meow-chelin three-star restaurant.
Your cat’s whiskers are so sensitive that they can detect even slight air movements. The constant input of data can stress them out and interfere with eating and drinking. For this reason, it is thought that cats prefer a flat surface, rather than a dish with sides, for meals. And instead of serving water in a bowl, try a flowing source such as a fountain.
If you’ve spent mealtime with a baby, you’re familiar with food ending up a lot of places other than the baby’s stomach. And if your cat could roll their eyes at this behavior, they would. Even so, sometimes your cat may lick a bit of food or water out of bounds. The simple fix for this is a stylish cat place mat large enough for food and water, with a raised edge to contain any spillage. Because honestly, let’s not eat like animals, OK?
Choose a calm, quiet place where they’ll feel comfortable — instinctually, they’re listening for other animals that might try to steal their premium cat food. And don’t feed them near the litterbox (you wouldn’t want a table near the restroom, either). Also, consider placing food and water in separate areas since that’s how cats experience it in the wild.
Moving on up
Cats love to get as far above the floor as possible. Maybe it’s because they feel safe, or maybe it’s their ambush predator roots. Whatever the reason, you can work elevation into your space in a wide variety of ways. Cat trees are available in styles from mild to wild, from basic carpeted perches to deluxe, ceiling-high masterpieces made of mixed materials.
One tower can indulge your cat with multiple platforms, enclosures, scratching posts, ramps and accessories. There are eco-friendly options, easier-to-climb trees for older cats and heavy-duty models for bigger breeds. If you don’t have room for a standalone structure, consider a configurable shelf system that lets your cat climb the walls so they’re not, well, climbing the walls.
Cats love to see the outside world and everything that goes on in their “territory.” For the ultimate in laid-back luxury, a window-mounted perch is the way to go. Treat your cat to a cozy hammock, a plush shelf, a funky bubble pod and more. Or give your cat’s senses a true taste of the outdoors with boxes that mount through your open window, similar to an A/C unit.
When the neighborhood cats gossip, you want it to be about your cat getting their own luxury catio. This structure allows your cat to enjoy the outdoors, typically your backyard, while keeping them safe from harm and the local critters safe from your cat’s hunting instincts. Catios can be freestanding units out in the yard but are more commonly attached to your home for easier access through a door or window. Some systems use fencing or netting to secure large areas of your yard so your cat can romp through the grass. If you’re handy, this is a great opportunity to custom-build an enclosure unique to your cat and your property.
If your cat is like most, their toys are scattered to every corner of your home. No matter what types of toys are prowling the dark recesses, they all need to be cat-safe and ideally should stimulate different senses. Rotate them weekly, leaving only a few out at a time — though, if your cat has a beloved favorite, give it a 24/7 playtime pass. And when a toy is past its prime, rotate in a new addition.
Your cat’s powder room
Not every element of cat life is glamorous, but even this area can do with some upgrades. So don’t pooh-pooh the pan, let’s make that litter glitter! (Not litter-ally, of course.)
Box It upscale
A closet, the laundry room, that far corner of the basement … the litter box has traditionally been banished as an ugly necessity. But why not choose a litter box designed to fit your home’s fashion? Treat your cat to styles ranging from classic midcentury to clean-lined modern. There are litter boxes disguised as end tables, nightstands and giant planters.
Consider the litter
All cat litters have the same job and require frequent cleaning and changing. However, experts caution that cat litters aren’t necessarily good for you, your cat or the world around us. Extracting and disposing of clays can be environmentally problematic. Dusts can lead to respiratory issues for both cats and people. And while fragrances mask odors nicely, they’re only there for you, not your cat’s sensitive nose.
Fortunately, you can step up the litter game with effective, eco-friendly alternatives. Nontoxic, scent-free litter made from recycled paper claims to be three times more absorbent than clay. Or try natural litter made with a blend of biodegradable hardwood and cedar chips. Many more options abound, made with materials such as tree nuts, pine shavings, wheat crops and non-GMO corn.
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