Cats have the fame of being low-maintenance animals, but you know that’s not true. Cats need exercise, quality food, interactive play, and a safe place to rest to be happy.
Mia and I have moved back to NY and as we are spending more time indoors, I’ve realized how important is to create an enriching, safe and cozy environment. If your cats don’t see further than the 4 walls that limit your home, it’s particularly important to provide them with the best environment so they can thrive.
Cats that are gaining weight, feel depressed, seem anxious, or exhibit unacceptable behavior are most likely cats that could use a few changes in their lifestyle and their home.
I’ve decided to focus today’s entire post on enriching your cat’s environment when they are indoors. No matter how big or small your house or your budgets are, I will offer you advice and options so you can offer your cat the best environment indoors regardless of where you live or the size of your budget.
If you are a visual learner, here you have a video talking about it:
Catification is the art of making changes and adjustments to your home that meet the needs of both you and your cat.
Let me share with you the blueprint for catifying your home and ensuring your cat has a safe, cozy and enriching environment. I’ll structure the video in 3 parts:
- Places of Comfort: Because cats spend more than 15 hours a day sleeping and resting
- Playground/s: To satisfy your cat’s primal instincts and challenge them the way being outdoors does.
- Safety Considerations: Because it’s not really catified if it’s not safe for them
As always, I’ll add timestamps in the description box down below so you can jump around in case you want to and links to the products I talk about.
Cat Sleeping and Resting Spots: Places of Comfort
Has it ever happened to you that you go to an hotel, an Airbnb or a friend’s house and you don’t sleep quite as well as you usually do in your bed, in your home? This is because our home has become our place of comfort, our sanctuary. We have pictures of our loved ones, our own furniture and we know where things are.
If your cat spends a lot of time hiding under the bed, or in a closet it could be an indication that something is making your cat feel unsafe. On cats, that sense of comfort and belonging comes from the pheromones they spread around the house.
Pheromones are chemical messages that cats use to interact with the world around them. These “messages” are released from special glands around their bodies. These glands can be found in your cat’s chin, lower ears, forehead, cheeks, tail, rear, back, and paw pads. Pheromones have no odor and cannot be detected by humans or dogs! They are only perceived by other cats.
You may have watched your cat rub or bump against objects (or even you!). Cats use this behavior, called marking, for example, your cat may rub against it to leave the message “this object is safe”.
When choosing the places of comfort for your cat, I would recommend you make sure you offer at least these 3, combined or in separate spaces:
Surfaces we mentioned before that allow your cat to spread their pheromones. Some examples of soft surfaces are blankets, pillows or any piece of cloth.
Small spaces where they can squeeze themselves into, they feel safer and more secure rather than being exposed to possible danger in wide open spaces. Have you heard of “If I fits, I sits”? Choose a place that allows your cat to curl and feel snuggly inside.
Cats will choose a dark place as a hiding spot for their protection. The darker a location, the harder it will be for the cat to be seen. The ability to conceal itself is important to any feline
Cats love to be warm, and that’s why you’ll see them sacked out in the sunshine. They crave warmth, so if you want your cat to stay around you, make sure you provide a cozy and warm spot where they don’t have to compromise between being with you and being comfortable.
I have several spots for Mia to make her life cozier. In my room, the one that she’s using the most is the Feltcave. Because it’s a Secluded, Dark and Cozy Mia loves it… or maybe it is because it looks great in my room?
A more budget friendly option is to have their carrier or a cardboard box with a blanket or towel inside but if you fell in love with the Feltcave, I have good news for you. They are handmade in Nepal with 100% merino wool. I’ve partnered with them to offer all Mia’s friends a discount. To access the unique discount, use the link in the description box below.
I’ve also discovered that she loves playing to hunt from it or in it, which brings me to the 2nd point:
How to Prevent Your Cat from Scratching Furniture
Scratching is another way your cat must mark their territory. Cats have scent glands in their paws. Scratching in a variety of areas is the sign of a cat marking and not just working to keep his claws clean and sharp. Just as they use facial or body rubbing to leave messages, your cat may use their claws as well and if you don’t want your cat to mark your sofa the best way to redirect the behavior is to offer alternatives.
Favorite places cats scratch to mark are commonly used entrances and exits to the home; favorite sleeping areas; and any boundary that they feel is being challenged in some way.
The trick is to offer scratching posts in those areas. I have several scratching posts around the house, as well as shelves and high points where Mia can oversee and control what’s going on in the room.
Should I Get a Cat Tree for my Cat?
Yes you should. Take a look at this article if you are not convinced if cat trees are worth it.
Cats are complex creatures and thrive in environments that best replicate wild behaviors. Without enrichment, cats can develop behavioral issues like aggression, anxiety, attention-seeking, urinating or defecating outside of the litter box, eating disorders amongst others. Before domestication, cats lived, hunted, climbed, and explored outside where they had a rich diversity of experiences.
The cat's natural behavioral repertoire includes climbing and jumping, and it seeks comfort and security from being off the ground. While domestic cats have a safe environment indoors with humans, they are happiest in an environment that stimulates outdoor instincts.
Have you ever played at floor is lava? – Okay, Squid Games came to my mind… that would’ve been a crazy game to play in that movie…
Despite some cats will be comfortable on the floor, our domestic cats’ wild relatives hunt and rest in trees as well as on the ground. This causes that most cats will appreciate vertical space, meaning having a privileged position at mid height or even above our shoulders.
The addition of cat trees to a cattery enclosure provides vantage points as well as opportunity for active behavior, keeping our cats entertained, relaxed and active.
A little trick here is to place a couple pieces of kibble in the vertical structures to encourage our cat to visit the vertical spaces regularly.
I chose Catastrophic Creations and Tuft and Paw for the design and because they are specifically designed for cats but any shelving unit could serve the same purpose. If you have good DIY skills, complementing those shelves with a felted area to serve as scent catchers would make them just perfect.
Make Your House Cat-Proof
This video would not be complete without talking about some safety considerations or cat proofing your home. While your home may be now the most comfortable and enriching places your cat will ever know, it can also be dangerous.
There are 4 type of danger for cats at home:
Toxic plants and other natural dangers
Include philodendron, mistletoe, poinsettia, lilies, azaleas, daffodils, tomatoes and hydrangeas. There’s a link in the description box down below where you’ll find access to the biggest database I found on plants that are toxic for cats. Make sure you keep your home safe by removing plants that are toxic, offering alternatives that are not toxic like cat grass or catnip and training your cat no to much on them. If you don’t know where to start, learn here how to stop your cat from nibbling on your plants.
Secure electric cords
Not many cats will play and chew on electric cords but if your cat is one of them, unplug any cords to items that aren’t used very often, and invest in some cord protectors, which can prevent a cat from getting a major shock to their system.
Check your windows and screens
Cats are escape artists and leaving a window or balcony opened and unsupervised can be dangerous as your cat might escape or trip and fall.
Vertical space falls
With cat trees and cat furniture comes the risk of falling. Make sure your cats have a clean fall if they were to trip from any of the vertical spaces you’ve offered. A rug or a carpet underneath will also help them have a soft landing.
While you wait for next week’s video on our YouTube, I’d recommend reading some of the blogs with more information to do more and better with your cat. I’m sure it will help elevate your bond with them.
Stay wild, stay safe! 😊