Creating An Environment That Meets The Needs of Your Cat -
A Cat House is simply your house that meets the needs of your cats, because cats need specific kinds of experiences in order to fully feel and express their catness; like climbing, jumping, scratching, exploring, hiding, stalking and chasing.
If you want your cat to be happy, healthy and at his all-round best both physically and psychologically, which translates into his best, behaviorally, then this is something you will want to take seriously. We are not referring here to the basic need of food, water, litter box and a place to sleep but to those other activities that are quintessential expressions of feline reality.
Most residences naturally provide for some of these experiences so long as your cat is permitted to jump and climb on and utilize what is attractive and available to him in the house, has access to secure places he can feel safe and has some elements of diversion and entertainment.
Entertainment for a cat, you might ask? Consider; cats in the wild are constantly occupied with the many elements of their surroundings. It might not be called ‘entertainment’ but is certainly is completely engrossing for them and boredom is never an issue. As every cat owner knows, home cats need and want interactive experiences and even challenges, and if you don’t have enough time to fully satisfy this urge in your cats there are many options available to fill the gaps and help to make your home a ‘cat house’.
So, do you have a cat house? Are there places for him to scratch (they need that), little niches to get cozy in, places to lay low and hangout in private, things to chase or bat around and elevated planes for them to climb onto from which to survey the domain below? Such things are often fairly easy to provide so here we look into some relatively simple ways to make your home an environment that thoroughly satisfies your cats feline instincts while remaining a comfortable and attractive home.[We don’t go into it in this article but it is worthwhile to remember that if your cat regularly exhibits unwanted behavior it is very likely because something in his world isn’t right. That something may very well be due to the frustration of some of these fundamental feline instincts.]
Why is that cat up there on that post? Not simply because he wanted to be there and take in the great view. He wanted to get there. He wanted to jump and climb – most cats do. Some cats will even try to jump onto three inch wide crown molding with no more than a four inch clearance eight feet off the ground. Where in your home can he perform this sort of activity? Generally, most beings enjoy doing what they’e good at and cats are very good at this so it is important that we allow such activities.
A cat's urge to explore high places is built-in.
How about making a space for him on a book shelf, or permitting him on what might appear to you to be a questionable window ledge, or allow him onto a kitchen table? It often doesn’t take any more than a different way of thinking to find these places for your cats because they are already in your environment but you may not have considered them suitable for these purposes. (Though more than likely, your cat has.)
If nothing in your house quite does it for the high places, then setting up some cat friendly shelving isn’t all that hard. You might wonder how your cat can get up to that higher perch shown on the left. Your cat will too, until he tries it and does it.
If you want something more elaborate but don’t want to build anything (and can afford it) there are many styles and sizes of cat tree houses which offer all sorts of pleasures and entertainments for your cats.
Or, you can go the Jackson Galaxy/Kate Benjamin route and create something more elaborate. (See their book; Catify To Satisfy). Some people have done this throughout their entire living space.
Quiet, Cozy Getaways For Feline Peace and Privacy
An afraid cat, not yet adapted to his environment will want and need to hide. Some say permitting this is rewarding his fear. Others suggest that If your cat is hiding out of fear then he has a problem and having a place to disappear into isn’t it.
The cause of the fear is what needs understanding but this is a subject for another post. We’ll just say here that if your cat is afraid of something having a place to escape to is even more important – until he begins to realize there is nothing to fear and he feels secure.
Every cat needs, wants, has to have private, secluded spaces they can crawl into, curl up and feel completely protected. This is normal and natural. In the wild cats seek that every day/night of their lives and it isn’t hard to provide that amenity/necessity for your cat. In fact it is likely your residence already has a half dozen places that fit the bill. If not, creating a couple shouldn’t be difficult.
Simply allowing a clothing drawer (you choose the clothes) to remain open can be sufficient, or put a cardboard box in some out of the way spot. Cats seem to have a special affinity for boxes. They like, at times, to feel enclosed and a cardboard box does it. (Other times they want full, expansive freedom).
If your cat is a bit of the timid type or is just feeling tired, ready to rest and escape the world, then this is a place he will resort to and he will appreciate it. If you look around your appartment or home with an eye for small spaces to hide away you’ll likely find several. Keep in mind that for some cats such a place higher up is preferred, as in a covey on a high ledge or shelf. This gives them the added advantage of surveillance.
The linen closet may not be your first choice but with a little effort you could insert a protection to prevent cat hair from getting all over your towels and such. Similarly, put what you want in the drawer you are providing. Little coveys like we see here are super attractive to cats. Cardboard boxes can go anywhere. Try behind a chair or in a corner.
This post is not about cat fountains but they must be included as an important part of every cat’s environment. This has been firmly established within the veterinary industry and many cat owners have long been aware of the value of a cat fountain in promoting feline health.
Almost all cats will drink more if given a fountain – because most cats need to drink more than they do simply because they nee moving water.
Where you place the fountain may be more important than you realize. Here is a post which address that topic.
Type ‘cat toys’ into a search bar and over a billion results come up. They’re popular and countless and there are a great many that are interactive that don’t require your participation. There are also countless allowing you to play with your cat.
Cats need to play in part, simply for the fun of it. They play for the needed exercise and also to invoke and exercise their natural predatory activities. And play helps them remain alert, active and engaged. Many of the vast range of cat toys, cat furniture and interactive devices have been designed with considerable awareness of what cats like. Some of these they can play with on their own through their own manipulation. Some are motorized and can provide extended periods of activity, some don’t need a partner but dangle from somewhere and invite your cat to play, and some allow you and your cats to play together.
Conclusion on Creating a Cat House
All the above in no way addresses all the factors that may be involved in creating a cat house but it should be enough to demonstrate how to allow for the expression of your cats’ deepest instincts. Satisfying them isn’t hard to do and doing so will be as rewarding for you as it will be for your feline companions.