Your feline friend might share your home, but she's not as far-removed from her wildcat ancestors as dogs are from wolves. As such, she has a range of specific needs that can make it difficult or stressful to live with a houseful of humans.
All cats are different of course, and some thrive on human companionship, but there are still ways to further enrich their lives. Here's how to make your home more cat-friendly—your kitty will thank you!
Whereas we humans mostly inhabit the floor (and the couch!), cats can make use of all the vertical space in your house. Not only does it give them more room to explore, it can also reduce conflicts in multi-cat households (as there are more prime spots to go around) and encourage your cats to exercise more. The great news for you—your cats will be hanging out off the ground, so you won't have to give up much floor space. But how do you give your cats vertical space? The simplest option is to buy one or two tall cat trees. Cat shelves are also an excellent option or, if you're really dedicated, you could create a network of ramps and shelves running all around your house.
Environmental enrichment is important, especially if your cat lives exclusively indoors or has limited outdoor space. Given the chance to roam freely, cats will hunt, play, and socialize with other felines in the area. It’s your job to provide environmental enrichment around the house. While you can buy some excellent cat toys and interactive puzzles your feline friend will enjoy, you don't need to spend a ton of money. A cardboard box filled with a layer of leaves or a couple cat-friendly plants (especially catnip or cat grass) can provide hours of fun. Scratching posts are another great addition to a cat-friendly home. Place them in areas where your cat likes to scratch to save your furniture!
Some cats like to find the tightest spot available and squeeze in. While it's common for nervous kitties to want to hide, even confident cats sometimes like a space to tuck themselves away. Buying your cat a cocoon bed or other enclosed cat bed or house is an excellent way to provide him with a suitable hiding spot. Place this hidey hole in your living room or wherever you and your family spend most of your time at home. This way, your cat can have his own space while still reaping the social benefits of being with his humans. That said, some cats like to have hiding spots away from everyone as well, so they have a respite when they need it—especially if you have young children.
A cat-friendly home breeds happy and relaxed kitties.
A home rife with items that could be hazardous to your kitty isn't very cat-friendly! One of the biggest hazards is household cleaning products. While your cat isn't about to open and guzzle down a bottle of bleach, it's common for cats to walk through spilled cleaning products, then ingest them while grooming. Keep your cleaning products somewhere secure and be vigilant about cleaning any spills. It's not unheard of for cats to settle in the basket of a washer or dryer—keep your cat out of the laundry room or always shut the doors to your washer and dryer. Beware of letting your cat onto kitchen surfaces as she could wander onto a hot stove. There are also various cut flowers and household plants that are poisonous to cats, the most ubiquitous being lilies, so be careful what you bring into your home.
Although you might not like it, your cat needs litter boxes, and they should be placed in high traffic areas of the home your cat frequents. Although you might prefer to tuck a litter box out of sight in the spare room, your cat won't use it there. You should also place one more litter box than the number of cats in the house (three litter boxes for a two-cat household, for example).
Of course, life is unpredictable and you can't plan everything down to the second, but cats like routine, so you need to find a happy medium. When things are routine for your feline friend, he'll be happier and more relaxed, and will feel like he has control over certain aspects of his life. Some ways to keep your cat's life predictable include keeping resources like food, water, and litter boxes in the same location; feeding him at the same times each day (consider using an automatic feeder if your schedule varies); being consistent in the way you interact with and handle your cat; and avoiding washing the bedding in his favorite spots all at once.