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03 April 2014

What exactly is “cat-ification” you ask? Cat-ification is a necessary component to any cat owne'rs home. Cats like to explore, climb, jump, scratch and rest in just the right spot. It is instinctual for all cats to do these thing,s and an indoor environment doesn’t always allow that luxury. Cats are also very territorial and if they don’t feel safe in their territory, it can cause your cat to get stressed out. Whether your cat is spraying, fighting with other cats, or biting and clawing at her humans, sometimes just “cat-ifying” the environment can reduce these problems and lead to a much happier house.

A couple of months ago a story popped up on my Facebook feed about a couple who has spent tens of thousands of dollars “cat-ifing” their home. It was a cat's paradise! Multiple walkways, places to lay and enjoy the sun in all levels of the home, holes in the wall so cats who likes being high up could travel from room to room, and lots of appropriate places to sleep, scratch, climb, jump and explore. While this may have been Kitty’s Dream House, not many of us are able or willing to put holes in out walls for our cats, and that is okay. There are many things you can do to “cat-ify” your home that are lower cost and, when done properly and added to other behavior medication techniques, will allow for peace to return to your home.

  1. Think Vertical: Cats love to jump, climb and be in high places so take advantage of the vertical space in your home. Put shelves on the walls, invest in a multi level cat tree and/or put perches on your windows for the cats to look outside.
  2. Provide Alternates: If your cat is scratching the furniture, provide an alternative acceptable scratching option right next to the coveted furniture. Reward the cat for making the right choice on where to scratch.
  3. Play the “Hot Lava” Game: When you were little, did you (or do your kids now) play the “hot lava” game? You had to get from one end of the room to the other without touching the floor directly as it had become “hot lava” and you would get burned! Think of your floor as “hot lava” for your cat. Is there a way they can get from one side of the room to the other without touching the floor? If not, create one! This is especially important in multi cat, cat/dog or cat/kid homes. It allows more than one way for a cat to move across the room in case one way is blocked. Dog lying on the floor? Jump across the couch. Kids playing in the entry way? Take the wall shelves across the room. This way a cat can interact when they want to and escape when they need to.

These three tips are the start of “cat-ifying” your home. It increases cat friendly space in your home and allows each member of the family, pet included, to feel like they have ownership of territory in the home. If cats are confident of where they belong, they are less likely to have territory fights, spray due to insecurity or lash out aggressively at inappropriate times.

If you would like more tips or are having problems with your cat, or you want professional advise on the best way to help your pets get along, call the Kentucky Humane Society’s Free Pet Helpline at (502) 509-4738.

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