You already know that cats need a scratching post, a litter box, plus food and water. But these other 15 things might surprise you. Personally, I had never heard of them before I brought home my cat, Queen Autumn the 1st. Between owning a cat and researching cats, I’ve learned quite a bit, and I’d like to share some of it with you.
Now, you may be wondering if these are really necessary. After all, 15 things is a lot, and Fluffy already has the aforementioned scratching post, litter box, etc… Isn’t that enough?
Well, yes and no. Those things are enough to live on, certainly. But your cat won’t be happy with just those bare essentials. Let’s put this in human terms. You could just live in a cabin in the woods, eating wild game and drinking from a brook; but hardly anyone wants to live that way, and cats are the same. In addition, if you provide these extra things, you’ll be stopping many feline behavior problems before they even start.
So, without further ado: here are 15 steps you can take to turn your house into Cat Heaven!
1. A Panther in the Trees
Do you know why cats climb trees? It’s because felines love to get up into high places. From their high perch, they can survey their domain. Inside the house, there obviously aren’t any trees, but your cat will still feel the urge to get up high. The more you can cater to this instinct, the happier Fluffy will be. So here’s the practical application: try to string together as many high places as you can; cat expert Jackson Galaxy calls this the “cat super highway”. Maybe you can create a “staircase” up to the top of your kitchen cabinets using shelves. Maybe you can form a walkway by stringing together the cat tree, the mantle, the back of the couch, and the window sill. Try to get creative. Your cat will thank you.
2. Lock Up the Monster.
Cats hate vacuum cleaners. Cats think of them as some sort of roaring monster, into whose jaws things disappear, never to be seen again. Of course, vacuuming is unavoidable, but do Fluffy a favor: when you’re done vacuuming, put the monster in a closet and shut the door.
3. Open the Gates!
With the single exception of the vacuum cleaner’s closet, try to leave doors open as much as possible. Cats are curious creatures, so they don’t like closed doors. That’s why many insist on coming into the bathroom with you. (Fortunately, my Autumn doesn’t.) It’s up to you whether or not you let your kitty into the john, but you really should let her explore every room in the house. If you don’t let her into a certain room, chances are that Fluffy will meow outside the door for hours. So why not leave it open? Remember, it’s not just your home anymore; now it’s her home too.
4. What’s that Stench?
Ideally, you would avoid using scented candles, perfumes, or chemicals with a powerful smell. Cats dislike strong smells (unless, of course, it’s tuna), and often won’t enter a room that stinks. After all, their nose is 14 times stronger than ours. So what might seem like a pleasant aroma to you is probably an overwhelming odor to Fluffy. If the idea of avoiding perfumes is appalling to you, then at least avoid citrus smells. Cats hate those most of all!
5. “Sun is Out, Wind in My Face… Absolutely Awful.”
– Grumpy Cat Meme
Speaking of things cats hate, felines dislike wind. It’s true. If I turn on the fan, Autumn will get up and leave the room. While I don’t have any studies to back up this claim, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming.
6. Paper or Plastic? Both, Actually.
For some unknown reason, cats love things that crinkle. Felines delight in sitting on objects like paper or plastic that make a crinkling, crunching sound. The upshot is this: making your cat’s day is easy. Just drop a grocery bag or a piece of paper on the floor.
7. “Snakes. Why Does It Always Have to Be Snakes?”
Remove anything that resembles a snake from the floor. This includes string, yarn, rubber bands, and sometimes electric cords. If you don’t pick it up, Fluffy will probably try to play with and then eat the “snake”, sending both of you racing to the vet. And no one wants that.
8. Don’t Put that in Your Mouth!
It is vital that you know which houseplants are toxic to cats. Here is a complete list of plants that are poisonous to cats, via the ASPCA.
Now suppose you find that you already own a plant that is dangerous for cats. As a plant lover myself, I’m not going to say ‘throw it out’. Just remove it to a very high self where your cat cannot access it (keep in mind that cats in their prime can jump 6 to 8 feet). At the same time, you can satisfy Fluffy’s need for greens by growing her some cat grass.
9. Strength in Numbers
Do you have multiple cats? Then multiple litter boxes is a must; 2 cats need 3 boxes. Even if you only have 1 cat, then you still need 2 boxes. My kitty, Queen Autumn the 1st, insists on having 2 boxes. If you only provide 1 box, then there is a good chance that Fluffy will be using the floor or the tub at some point.
10. “Don’t Cross the Streams!”
Since we are on the topic of litter boxes, here’s another tip: don’t put the litter box and the food bowl anywhere near each other. In the wild, a cat would never eat and dump in the same place. Cats are tidy creatures, and would never even think of such abominations! For that matter, don’t put the food bowl and the water dish in the same room. The wild cat would eat its prey, then walk some distance to the nearest body of water for a drink. ‘Nuff said.
11. A Feast for the Beast
For food and water bowls, it would be best if you used wide, flat dishes. Cat whiskers are highly sensitive, so most cats don’t enjoy when a deep bowl pushes against their whiskers. It’s uncomfortable for them. Also, the bowls should be made of a heavy material (like ceramic) that won’t slide around. Seeing your cat chasing her bowl around the kitchen may seem funny or cute to you, but your cat will hate it.
12. “Let There Be Light.”
If you’re anything like me, sometimes I’m home on a nice, lazy weekend, and I don’t feel like doing much of anything, not even opening the curtains. But that would be a mistake. When they aren’t sleeping, cats spend most of their time staring out the window. Felines are a curious species, remember? Thus, Fluffy delights in watching all of the activity outdoors — passing cars, people, animals, etc… Furthermore, cats enjoy basking in sunbeams for hours. So let there be light!
13. “Set Phasers to Stun!”
I said that cats enjoy seeing other animals outside their window. And they do like watching birds, squirrels, and other animals such as that; but if Fluffy spots a dog, or a raccoon, she will hate it! Cats are territorial, so another animal trespassing in her backyard is traumatizing. And the worst-case scenario is coming nose to nose with another cat on the other side of the glass! Territorial fears like this lead to all kinds of bad behavior, such as aggression and peeing outside the litter box. Fortunately, the solution is simple: place air blasters around the outside of your home. You can buy these motion-activated defenses from all kinds of places, including Amazon, Chewy.com, and Jacksongalaxy.com. (#NotSponsored But Would Totally Like to Be!)
14. Cheese Shredder
Because cats are such territorial creatures, they like to mark their ownership by clawing things. Therefore, even with only 1 cat, you will still need multiple scratching posts. If you want to save your couch from looking like it was attacked by a cheese shredder, then place the scratching posts where Fluffy wants them, not where you want them. Sorry, interior decorators, but you’ll thank me later!
And now, here’s the final tip…
15. Put on your Lab Coat, We’re Going Out
Perhaps the most critical thing you can do for your cat is experiment. Present her with different foods and see what she likes; buy various toys and play with her in different ways; that sort of thing. Eventually you will discover what Fluffy likes. And if you keep experimenting, that will make her life much more fascinating. For the indoor-only cat, this is essential.
As you can see, cats are a lot of work!
That said, in some ways, cats need less than you might imagine. This will be the topic of next week’s post — things you think your cat needs that she really doesn’t. For instance, did you know that most cats don’t need cat beds?
Anyway, that’s all for this week. I hope to see you back here again next time, but until then: stay fuzzy, my friends!