With cooler weather arriving, cats—like us—feel the urge to nestle at home for warmth and comfort in the darker months. Rather than splurging for one grand cat cave, incorporate your cat’s needs and wants into your own larger space now to will simplify the seasonal shift. Read on to learn eight easy ways to maximize your cat’s indoor space.
Work Your Way Up
Cats’ instincts tell them to go vertical, and while you may not want yours lounging atop the refrigerator, providing climbing space and a perch or two will result in feline joy. “When you offer them vertical freedom, you’ll immediately see cats have added confidence,” says Jackson Galaxy, host of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell. Jackson’s vision of a “cat superhighway” always includes “no dead ends” and “plenty of on-and off-ramps,” especially in multi-cat homes. Create a cat climbing wall by attaching a series of short, randomly spaced perches covered in carpeting. The result gives your kitty an ideal way to exercise and see her home from a different view. A good-size cat tree (or two) gives a similar above-it-all escape.
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Jackson also suggests looking at existing shelves, including bookcases or room dividers, for surfaces that cats can jump onto safely and with your approval. He and co-author Kate Benjamin explore lots of fun, creative “catification” ideas in their new book, Catification: Designing a Happy and Stylish Home for Your Cat (and You!). Clearing even one bookshelf of dusty knickknacks, old textbooks and barely-skimmed bestsellers offers kitty a snug space for relaxing and retreating. If you like, line it with an old towel or t-shirt, then lead her to it. Then donate or recycle those old books (like Intro to Calculus).
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Think Inside the Box
When maximizing your cat’s space, consider adding an extra litter box. Maximizing comfort means considering all her needs, not just spots for playing or napping. An extra litter box, placed in an area away from her main box, is as welcome as a handy powder room near the man cave or family room. Convenient relief will enable your kitty to fully enjoy all the areas of your home that she’s calling her own.
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My Space, Their Space
Cats often choose spots to hunker down in for no special reason other than they prefer it, whether that’s under your computer desk or in front of the flat screen TV. Placing a cat bed or sweatshirt there lets her know you’re pleased she’s nearby and okay with her choice. You can also banish the dust bunnies and give your cat permission to stretch out under your bed, as she’s going to do it anyway. Cats often choose the warmest space, especially during winter months, so if her chosen spot is the a cabinet under the sink near the innermost wall of your bathroom, so be it. Just temporarily relocate the extra toothpaste and towels so your kitty can enjoy her retreat.
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Bin There, Done That
Storing holiday décor or out-of-season clothes in one of those big plastic, lidded bins? Place one under a windowsill and transform it into a feline window seat. Layer towels and an old blanket on top, or first disguise it by draping a print sheet over it down to the floor. If your window overlooks a backyard or patio, install a birdfeeder to guarantee any kitty plenty of entertainment. No bin? Two stacked hard-sided suitcases work just as well, and will remind your feline that you’re not leaving town.
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A Case for Baskets
Cats love to burrow into baskets (even one that’s occupied by laundry) so give your kitty her own version of a laundry basket layered with old blankets, towels and t-shirts too worn for donating. No matter where you place her basket, she’ll feel at home. Always avoid wicker type baskets that cats may chew on, as the pieces will splinter. Cats famously love boxes, too, so grab a couple free flat rate large priority boxes at the post office. These are popular with cats due to their square shape that invites cats to curl into a circle.
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Flannel and Fleece Felines
Soft fiber equates to feline comfort. When flannel sheets wear thin, place one over a living room chair or couch where your cat likes to sit and cut another into generous cat-size pieces to line boxes or beds. Ditto with fleece throws, sweaters that are starting to pill, sweatshirts (cats love the cuddly inside part) and flannel shirts (just be sure to remove all buttons). Added DIY bonus: cut the sleeves off shirts, sew one end shut, stuff tight with rattly plastic grocery bags (the kind you’re supposed to recycle), and secure the other end for an instant cat toy.
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Skirt the Issue
Got one of those round, “skirted” tables in a corner? Perhaps the long tablecloth covers stacks of magazines (uh, do you need three years of Martha Stewart Living?) and old CDs? Turn it into a cat clubhouse! Just as cats love to hunker down under a bed and check out the world from beneath the dust ruffle, they also love the enclosed feeling of hiding out under a fabric-covered table. Place a small box or old, folded sweatshirt between the table legs and watch your cat cozy down out of sight, content to nap where she’s hidden from the world but can still peer through the folds.
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Kathy Blumenstock is owned by cats, loved by dogs, writes about both, and still longs for a horse.