Easy DIY ways to make your home cat-friendly (without living in a sea of discarded toy mice).
Anyone who has ever seen “cat daddy” Jackson Galaxy on Animal Planet's My Cat From Hell will know what I mean when I say I want to build a cat superhighway in my house.
Sadly these amazing paths made of shelves, furniture and boxes built to take cats around a room without ever touching the floor may be a little OTT in my one bedroom apartment, but his philosophy that you should cattify your home makes sense. According to Galaxy, catification is “the art of making changes and adjustments to your home that really satisfy your cat’s primal instincts and challenge them the way being outdoors does.” In other words, your cat wants to jump, perch, climb, play, sleep, eat, hunt, and claim their territory, and you need to create spaces for them to do this.
And Bondi Vet Kate Adams (www.drkateadams.com) agrees that pet cats need a lot of stimulation manufactured for them.
“As we become more urbanised, our cats have less opportunity to go outside and do cat stuff,” she says. “They stay indoors, sometimes in small living spaces and they get bored. And when they get bored, they get anxious and frustrated, and that can lead to a whole host of problems and issues, both medical and behavioural, for cat and owner! Your cat needs mental stimulation and physical activity to keep them happy and healthy.”
Here are our top catification tips.
1. Get them up high
You don't have to build a superhighway but, says Dr Kate, “Cats love vertical space because it gives them a whole new world. A cat tree or climber of some sort is a great idea. You can buy an over the door multi-level climber which perfect.”
Here’s a hack - get creative using furniture, or box shelves which you can attach to a wall, staggering them to make steps your cat can climb and adding a comfy cushion for them to perch on at the top. Galaxy says space is important for cats because being able to leave their scent somewhere that is their own fosters a feeling of confidence, security, and comfort.
2. Get them hunting
“‘Cat play’ is really important and is often about keeping their mind and body active by stimulating hunting behaviours. What can be challenging is finding something they love to do,” says Kate.
Set aside time each day for more interactive play with your cat - using simple things like laser pointers, shoelaces or string, to keep them active and their hunting instincts on point.
Here’s a hack: Make your own 24/7 hunting experience using a simple mouse toy on a string attached to a door handle - this means your cat can play with it even when you’re not there. And make them an easy scratching wall using photo frames filled with carpet samples or pieces of doormat.
3. Give them somewhere safe to snooze
Cats love somewhere cosy to sleep - and they’ll sleep for most of the day. It’s not hard to find hacks for great sleeping solutions - simply pop a cushion inside an IKEA Expedit shelf, add one on top as well, and wrap sisal rope around one side for a homemade bed/scratching post combo. Does your cat prefer the ordinary cardboard box? If so, pop a small chair cushion or a throw blanket in it for extra comfort or - and this is genius - even create a brilliant cat tent using a T-shirt and two coat hangers.
4. Give them something to look at
“Giving your cat the ability to see what’s going on in the world, makes a huge difference to their day. Cats are inquisitive by nature so looking out at the world is good for them” says Kate. Galaxy calls it “Cat TV”, and says that just as you might design your living room with the TV as the focal point, you should look around your home for prime windows for creating Cat TV, and add things outside those windows for cats to see Think: a bird in a tree or animals next door. Add a perch or bed that invites your cat to sit and watch to his heart’s content.
Here’s a hack - build a simple shelf over the window sill and cover it with carpet for a quick viewing-platform, or you can buy a bed with suction cups attached, allowing it to be stuck to a window or door. Kitty bliss!