A cat's territory is very important to them, just like it is to humans; cats like to have a place for everything, and everything in its place! They have likes and dislikes just like we do, and can get anxious if things change.
So what can you do if you want to make your home more cat-friendly? Why not conjure up your feline feelings and think like a cat!
There are lots of comfy kitty questions to ask: Where are their favourite places? What's their routine? When do they like to be left alone (and do they have hiding spots)? And, do they have some space for play time?
So let's explore what's important to a cat, and how you can make your home both safe and stimulating for them. Here are 6 ideas to consider!
1. Give them choice
Cats like different places to sleep at different times of the day. They may like to sleep on the windowsill when the sun is shining, or they may like to take a nap on a favourite cushion when you are watching TV or they may even need somewhere they can retreat to if something makes them feel anxious.
Give them choices so that they can decide where to go, depending on their mood. Place a comfy blanket on the windowsill, or keep a kitty cushion handy when you settle down for the evening. You will probably find that they will use them all, in their own time.
A cat's natural instinct is to explore, or hide - just like their ancestors did in the wild. Giving them a choice of high places, like shelves or tops of cupboards are great fun for cats to exercise these instincts, and to 'spy' from. But make sure these have good access too, like placing a chair nearby so that it can be used as a stepping stone to the top.
2. Keep them safe
A normal household will have everyday items around that can be toxic or dangerous to our feline friends. Things that we take for granted like certain houseplants, washing machines and dryers or cleaning products can all pose a hazard for cats.
Cats are inquisitive creatures and when there are new items around the home, they are likely to want to investigate them.
- Make sure all cleaning products are behind closed doors when they are not in use.
- Never have lilies in your home! As beautiful as they are, they are very toxic to cats and can cause kidney failure. There are many other plants that are cat friendly, like orchids, spider plants or African violets etc. so choose these instead - and always check that any new plants are cat-safe.
- Always close washing machine or dryer doors when not in use - and always check that your cat has not hidden inside before you put a wash on - we know how inquisitive cats are and also how they like to hide!
- Did you know that chocolate can be toxic for cats, as well as dogs? Although cats are less likely to eat anything in sight, if they do nibble chocolate it can be harmful, so play safe and if you can't quite manage to eat it all yourself - make sure it is out of kitty's way!
- When you are doing household chores, make sure your kitty is in another room when you are using the vacuum cleaner. Cat's don't like noise and will be easily spooked if they are disturbed by a loud vacuum cleaner coming towards them.
- Similarly, take every precaution around events such as firework celebrations and keep your cat indoors.
3. Keep to a routine
Cats like routine, from the time they wake up in the morning, until they curl up at night. They like to know what's happening next!
If you are planning any changes to your routine such as having guests to stay - or are planning to work from home less - humans and cats alike had to make lots of adjustments to their routine during the pandemic - try and make any changes gradually.
4. Build in some playtime
Make sure you build some playtime into your kitty routine. Cats love playing with toys that encourage their natural instincts, like chasing their prey. A moving fluffy toy on the end of a string, or chasing and patting a ping-pong ball across the floor will keep them active and alert.
You can also keep them mentally agile by hiding some treats or kibble around the room for them to search and find. Rotate their favourite toys to avoid boredom, but they will also have just as much fun playing with a cardboard box or the inner tube of a toilet roll!
5. Check access to resources
Remember if you have more than one cat, you need to provide resources for each of them - cats don't like sharing so make sure you have all the happy cat essentials!
- Food: It's good practice to monitor how much your cat is eating, but to make it more interesting and fun for your kitty, try taking a little of their kibble from their daily allowance and hide it in food puzzles/activity feeders; it's a fun game for them and will support their hunting instincts too.
- Food bowls: Cats like to eat in quiet places, so find somewhere that's away from other pets and loud noises. You may find that keeping their food bowls somewhere up high helps to keep them away from others, so your kitty feels safe and alone whilst they eat.
- Water bowls: All cats have their own preferences when it comes to how they drink - some cats like running water, while others will prefer a bowl to drink from. Often, cats like to drink from wide bowls (and for households that also have a dog, you may even spot your kitty drinking from the dog's water bowl for this reason!). Alternatively, you can use a very small glass or bowl (smaller than their heads) so they can dip their tongue or paws in for a drink without their whiskers touching the sides.
- Litter trays: For multicat households, there should be enough litter trays in the house for each cat (plus 1). Cats definitely do not like sharing their toilet with other cats and they are also particular about where it is situated; out of view, and away from loud noises (like a washing machine) but easy to access is ideal. Regular cleaning of the litter trays is essential and some cats even have a preference to the substrate that is used. Be sure to find out which your cat likes! Many cats prefer to use a clumping, unscented litter with a fine consistency, like sand; you may find that cats start toileting out of their litter tray, if it is not to their liking!
- Scratching Posts: Scratching is part of a cat's daily routine and helps to maintain their claws and stretch their body. If your cat goes outside regularly, they will probably have their own favourite spot for scratching, like a tree trunk or a fence post. But it's always important to provide them with their own scratching post indoors too, or other objects like a cardboard pad, to prevent them from scratching furniture or walls.
6. Resting places
Cats like to have a choice of where they take their cat naps, so make sure there are lots of options around!
- Some cat towers will provide a cosy spot for your cat to relax, and these are often combined with a scratching post so that when they've had a nap, they can stretch their claws on the post afterwards.
- A quiet safe place that they can retreat to without being disturbed is essential for a cat, particularly if there is something unusual happening in your home, like visitors. This could be on a high shelf, or under a bed with easy access.
- Some cats like to sit on a windowsill so that they can see what is going on outside - but others may find looking out of a window frustrating, particularly if they spot another cat in their territory.
Keep an eye out for where they nap regularly, then make it nice and snug for them with some cosy bedding - they'll love you for it!
7. Encourage a sociable home!
Make sure you allocate some 'kitty' time to your day; social contact is an important part of the bond between you and your cat, but let them dictate the level of interaction; some cats enjoy being groomed, some like interactive playtimes, and some just prefer to cosy up on the sofa in the evening beside you.
FELIWAY Optimum is a great solution to help cats feel safe and secure in your home. Simply plug the diffuser into the room where your cat spends most of their time. It can also help reassure your cat when you know things are not going to be quite normal for them, e.g. you're having visitors or a celebration, you're redecorating, or welcoming a new pet or person or even the ultimate change of moving home!