Feline Furnishings: Redecorating Your Home With Your Cat in Mind
Lively cats make your house a home.
Lively cats also often cause wear and tear on your furnishings. But don’t be discouraged. Interior designers say that clean carpets and upholstery, intact draperies and electrical cords — even your most precious collectibles — can successfully co-exist with your cat.
Decorating with certain fabrics and materials, planning open and closed spaces, and thinking about how each room is used can make a major difference in the way you and your pet relate to each other.
Home should be a haven for all family members, and your pets are no exception. But their idea of “home” is different from yours. Ancient animal instincts rule their feelings of comfort and security. Once you accept that, you can arrive at choices that work for everyone.
You can make your house a friendlier place if you observe a few basic rules though. For example, spayed and neutered animals are calmer. Groomed animals shed less. Clipped claws scratch less. Certain foods are more digestible and produce less waste. Cats that are played with and exercised regularly are less likely to scratch, chew, and trash things when you’re not home.
Climbing cats can be trained to keep off mantles, bookshelves, and special chairs through negative reinforcement. Tape balloons or two-sided tape to delicate or dangerous areas. They’ll quickly learn to avoid the loud noise or annoyingly sticky situation.
Here is a quick guide to help you redecorate your home in a way that will please everyone — even the finickiest of felines.
The Right Environmental Enrichment
Cats, especially indoor cats, need stimulation and recreation to maintain their good mental health. This is often referred to as“environmental enrichment” or “environmental enhancements.”
Part of our job as responsible cat owners is to understand that cats experience natural desires to scratch, stretch, perch, hunt, and fulfill their prey drive. Your cat may be inside and completely safe from harm but this doesn’t take away their instinct to do things they need to do to feel secure and comfortable in their home. Cats that can’t fulfill these basic requirements end up being bored or frustrated, which can result in problems with their mental and physical health.
This can be accomplished by providing an environment with cat trees, perches, bags, beds, toys, and trusted spots to sleep, eat, and use the litter box.
Before you start to redecorate, try imagining your home as your cat sees it. Is there a place where exciting scents accumulate? Are there quiet places? Areas of activity? Areas where you can hear birds sing?
Think about how your cat reacts to specific objects. Does your tumbling kitten invariably knock over a floor lamp? Replace it with one that has a heavy base. Does your beloved animal shed all over a light-colored sofa? Think about using a washable slipcover.
Also, consider the way your cat reacts to events in the home. Your cat may choose to sleep — and shed — on your favorite recliner or pillow simply because it smells like you. While you can train an animal to respect certain objects or areas, you can’t predict everything about an animal’s preferences, and you’ll have to plan accordingly.
Giving Your Cat Her Own Room
If you don’t want to completely redecorate your entire home to appease your cat, you could consider giving her a space of her own. There are a lot of great reasons to turn the spare room of your home over to your cat.
If your home is succumbing to cat claws or paw prints, giving your cat a room of her own can alleviate clean up and destruction. If you frequently have guests in your home, a cat room can also help with shedding and dander, keeping the majority of it in a confined room. This is helpful to folks with allergies and also gives your cat a safe place to stay while the party is happening. However, a cat room doesn’t have to be an afterthought. The possibilities for remodeling or building a room just for a cat are endless.
If you are fortunate enough to be building a new home, you can put a cat room into your design. But, you can remodel an existing room for your cat as well. Consider putting in a tile or concrete floor with a drain in the center for easy cleaning. Just make sure there is a slope in the direction of the drain so that water doesn’t pool. You can even take this design a step further with a shower feature. You’ll want to put tile all the way up to the ceiling, but think about the possibilities for easy cleaning!
If you have small cats, maybe you want to make the room a little cozier. Consider using interlocking rubber tiles on the floor so that it’s easy on all four feet. Counters at the perfect height for brushing and grooming make a great addition. Also storage shelves and cabinets for food, toys, and other pet-related items can keep everything your cat needs in a central location.
If one of the walls of your cat room faces the outside, a pet door that leads to the yard can also be a great addition. You could even create an enclosed area so that your indoor cats can spend a bit of time outside, but do so safely.
Your cats will also enjoy scratching posts, cat trees, ledges, and a variety of opportunities for climbing and napping. A room with windows of course, is always preferred for outside viewing enjoyment and some furniture strategically placed for the view would be enjoyed by almost any kitty. Some pet owners even put an enclosed aquarium in the pet room or a television so that their favorite felines have something interesting to watch all day long.
Whether you’re remodeling for yourself or your cat, you’ll want to help keep your cat stress-free while the work is being done.
Try to keep the cat isolated in one room where there is no construction. Preferably this would be in a relatively quiet room in the house. Place a sign on the door of that room that says, “DO NOT ENTER” so there is no confusion that this room is off limits to the construction workers.
You may want to move your cat into the room a few days before the construction begins. Make sure the room is associated with a place of comfort. If this is where you are going to feed them, start feeding them there. If this is where they will need to use the litter box, add the litter boxes now. Play with them and spend time with them in this room.
Try to make their new room interesting. Again, depending on how much time they will be in there, consider adding a window perch, a cat tree, a bird feeder outside the window, and other toys or distractions. Place a TV or radio in the room and keep it on a low/moderate volume. This can act as “white noise” to drown out some of the construction sounds.
Your cats will feel the stress, rather from the noise, smells, or different environment. Try to keep the routine as normal as you can. This includes what you feed, when you feed, how much you feed, when you get up, and just about anything else. Also, make sure you spend as much time with your cat as possible. If you can, make sure you include play in the day. During the construction, go into the room with your cat and read your paper, drink your coffee ,and generally try to spend a little time with them. Some cats will be hiding and feel extremely comforted by you just being around.
Minimize smells and fumes if possible. Increase ventilation in the house by using fans or opening windows. If you open windows to which your cat has access, make sure screens are secure.
If you let your cat out during the remodeling process, such as at night when the contractors have gone home, take special care to make sure the environment is cat “safe.” Check to see if there are nails, chemicals, strings, and any other items that cats could either walk in, lick up or eat. Spilled chemicals or paint that your cat walks through can cause them to become sick when they lick their paws.
Once the construction is complete, allow your cat some transition time back to the environment. Open the door and allow them to explore on their own terms. Keep the food, water, and litter box in the same place. Don’t just push them out there and force them to eat, drink, sleep, and eliminate in a new place. They probably have found the room they are in a comforting refuge. Keep it open and allow them to retreat if they want to.
Resources for Decorating With Your Cat in Mind
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