Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Catifying Your Home

When I was growing up, everyone I knew who had cats, allowed them to roam outside. Some people would allow the cats to come indoors, but rarely did anyone I know her cats stay inside 24/7. 

The Human Society of the United States (2019) says that "Cats are the most popular companion animal in the U.S., with more than 86 million of them living in nearly 39 million American households." With this many cats living inside, it's important to make sure your home is set up to meet the physical, emotional, and health needs of your cats. 

I grew up with dogs the first 20 years of my life and have been owned by cats the last 40+ years. I insisted my first cat lived indoors to avoid the perils of outdoor living in the United States. Those 19 years we had her, the only thing I basically had in the house was a litter box. We tried to get her to use a scratching post, but she preferred our furniture. Life with my second cat wasn't much different. I didn't think Persians climbed or jumped, so I never had a cat tree or other furniture in my home for her. All of this changed when I became a pet influencer/cat blogger and read about taking care of indoor cats from experts and fellow bloggers. I realized that I needed to meet the needs of my cats' natural instincts to improve their quality of life. I brought in special blankets, silk plants, numerous types of scratchers, a cat tree, numerous litter boxes, and a variety of toys. I discovered a few years ago that making cat comfortable in the home is known as "catification."
Truffle and Brulee resting on their Catit® Vesper Cubo Lounge Hideout and Tower



Catification

Jackson Galaxy, the star of Animal Planet's "My Cat from Hell", states that Catification is the "art of making changes and adjustments to your home that meet the needs of both you and your cat (aesthetically and spatially). Jackson says cats instincts propel them to jump, perch, climb, play, sleep, eat, hunt, and claim their own territory and if these needs aren't met, your cat my show signs of aggression or behavioral issues. In October 2014, Jackson Galaxy, along with Kate Benjamin (founder of Hauspanther), wrote a book, Catification: Designing a Happy and Stylish Home for Your Cat (and You!) which provides a step-by-step process of designing an attractive home that is also an optimal environment for cats.

To get a better idea of what Catification means, we interviewed Kate Benjamin.

An Interview with Kate Benjamin

Kate Benjamin
Photo credit - John Burcham Photography

What is Catification and Why Is It Important?


Catification is about designing a home to accommodate the needs of both cats and humans at the same time. The idea is to create an enriched environment that caters to a cat's natural instincts in order to improve their quality of life, and to do it in a way that is aesthetically pleasing. I'm here to tell you that you can have cats and your home doesn't have to look like a crazy cat lady lives there! A well-Catified home can help cats feel more at ease, ideally reducing behavior problems and improving a cat's health and well-being.

What Are 3 Things Someone Must Have In the Home If She is Living with a Cat?

So often, people don’t give a lot of consideration to their cat’s needs when designing a home environment. It’s critical to provide cats with the things they need to not just survive, but to thrive. All cats need to have an environment that gives them a sense of territorial ownership, a feeling of safety, and both mental and physical stimulation. This is achieved though scratching, climbing, hunting or playing, resting, leaving their scent and having sufficient resources, like food, water and litter.

That said, this doesn’t mean that cat owners have to decorate their homes to look like a cat shelter. We have to live there, too! The concept of Catification, as Jackson Galaxy and I define it in our two books, Catification and Catify to Satisfy, takes the needs of both the cats and the cat guardian’s into consideration. A well-Catified home satisfies everyone, both functionally and aesthetically.



Brulee likes to rest in the top of her cat tree

When designing a home for living with cats, consider creating places where cats can climb up high so they can survey their territory. This is especially important in any house with dogs or small children, since it will give the cats a place to get away, where they can feel comfortable. It’s important to add non-slip material like a scrap of carpet or a piece of yoga mat, to the top of any climbing surface. This will make it easier for cats to jump on and off, especially if it is a hard, slippery surface.


Truffle prefers a tall vertical scratching post with rope

Sufficient and suitable scratching surfaces are an important thing to include in any cat household. In addition to grooming their claws, cats scratch to leave both visual and scent marks, claiming their territory. If you don’t give your cat an agreeable place to scratch, she will find her own spot and you may not like it. Every cat has unique scratching preferences so you may need to test different materials, like cardboard, carpet, sisal or wood, and different orientations—horizontal, vertical or incline.

Probably the most important scratching consideration is location. Cats like to scratch where your scent is the strongest, so consider putting scratchers near your favorite chair, the sofa, your desk or your bed. And make sure whatever you give them to scratch on is sturdy and won’t tip over. Kitty needs to be able to really sink her claws in and get a good stretch while she scratches.



Truffle and Brulee like large and enclosed boxes.

Litter box design and placement is also very important for making a cat feel at home. The box needs to be large enough and located in a place that allows for some privacy but that isn’t so far out of the way that it’s hard to get to. This is for both you and your cat. She doesn’t want to venture too far away to find her litter box and if it’s out of sight, it could be out of mind for you, which might mean it doesn’t get scooped as often as it should.


Truffle likes to rest in her Sleepypod® Mobile Pet Bed

Comfortable beds not only give cats places to rest, cats also leave their scent on them, contributing to a sense of territorial ownership. Not to mention that cat beds and mats can save you a lot of hassle cleaning the furniture. Simply toss them in the washing machine periodically instead of removing all that fur from the sofa.


Truffle and Brulee like playing with toys that encourage hunting and eating

Other important environmental enrichment elements are toys and other forms of entertainment. Cats are hardwired to hunt and kill their prey, but indoors we provide them with their food, while toys can stand in as prey. Also, creating a perch in front of a window where your cat can watch wildlife and other activity outside will keep her mentally active, just make sure she has plenty of toys inside to actually attack.


What Are the 3 Mistakes Someone Tends to Make When Preparing Her Home for Life With a Cat?

Stability, durability and cleanability are the three things I usually think about when designing any DIY project for my cats. Climbing surfaces, scratchers, ramps, etc. must be stable for cats to use them. It’s important to attach things securely to the wall, using the appropriate hardware for that particular wall. Non-slip surfaces are non-negotiable, so think about using materials that are easily replaced when they become soiled or worn. I like using old yoga mats since they are easy to cut to any shape or size and they can be cleaned with a household cleaner, plus they are inexpensive to replace.


I also always use non-toxic materials and finishes. For paint, choose low- or no-VOC, like something that would be used in a nursery. The same goes for any other materials like fabrics or carpet. If it’s safe for a nursery it’s safe for cats.


When it comes to climbing and jumping, just because a cat can jump very high, doesn’t mean it’s safe to make him do that. Place cat shelves and walkways at a reasonable distance that’s easy to jump or climb, and always keep things at a safe height where you can easily reach your cat in an emergency.


Truffle is more of a "land dweller" and prefers shorter trees or cabins


How Would One Prepare Her Home for a "Land Dweller" vs a "Tree Dweller"?

Land dwelling cats prefer to stay on the ground versus climbing up high. True land dwellers are less common than tree dwellers, but if you have one, you’ll want to look for creative spots down low where your cat will enjoy hanging out. Maybe consider hanging some cat shelves just 12 to 18 inches off the floor. This will encourage even the most earth-bound cats to do a little climbing, plus it reduces some of the clutter on the floor

For the tree dwellers, you’ll definitely need a cat superhighway, complete with rest stops and destinations along the way. If you have multiple cats that like to climb, make sure to add extra traffic lanes and several on and off ramps.

Is There Anything Else You'd Like to Share About Catifying Your Home?


Nothing upsets me more than when I hear someone say, "Oh, it's just a cat, they don't need anything." This couldn't be further from the truth. Yes, a cat can survive without any Catification, but with it, they will thrive.


Our Home

Truffle and Brulee enjoying some of the items in our home

Truffle and Brulee are allowed in every room in my home. I'm lucky they don't jump on top of the kitchen cabinets, but they do like to be higher. I have 4 different sizes of cat trees in the living room, which allows the cats to jump from level-to-level to get on the highest perch and get down. I have several types of "houses" where the girls can find some alone time away from everything. I have numerous types of scratching posts throughout the house. Whenever one of the girls begins to scratch an inappropriate surface, such as a chair, I place a scratching post in that area. I have three different litter boxes in different locations in the house. The only room where I don't have cat furniture or supplies is my guest bedroom. My cats also like to sleep on the bed with me, so I have some special blankets on the end of the bed where they like to sleep. I am in the process of purging my home office from the years I was a college professor and state government employee and turning it into the "cat office" where I hope to truly catify a room for the cats so they can be comfortable while I'm working. I do have two identical small cat trees that are placed right beside my office chair which provides a place where both girls can be close to me and up off of the ground. I also consider using the appropriate "furniture" when traveling with my cats and the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed serves as a carrier and bed. Whenever I've had to leave one of my cats at the vet overnight, I leave the Sleepypod and the vet techs place the bottom in the cage with the girls and they sleep in there where all of the smells remind them of home.

We hope you enjoyed our interview with Kate Benjamin and gained some information that will help you "catify" your home.

Giveaway


As a part of our Catmas Wishes Holiday Series, we're excited to announce that one of our readers has the opportunity to win a Sleepypod (choice of carrier type and color, if available).  No purchase necessary. The giveaway is open to residents of the United States 18+ years, except where prohibited by law. The giveaway will run from December 18 - 31, 2019, ending at 11:59 pm ET. The winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter (powered by Random.org) and notified via email. Winner will have 48 hours to claim her prize; failure to do so will result in forfeiture of the prize and a new winner will be randomly chosen. To qualify for the giveaway, a comment must be left on our blog post.  Other entry options are available after a comment is left.  Please check your email and be sure to add sweetpurrfections@sc.rr.com to your address book! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Kate Benjamin is the founder of the popular cat style blog Hauspanther.com. She specializes in helping people live stylishly with cats, bringing them product information and interior design tips to help Catify their homes. Kate has been interviewed as a cat style expert by The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and CBS Sunday Morning. She makes guest appearances on Jackson Galaxy's hit show My Cat From Hell on Animal Planet and the duo has co-authored two New York Times bestselling books: Catification: Desiging a Happy amd Stylish Home for Your Cat (and You!) and Catify to Satisfy: Simple Solutionms for Creating a Cat-friendly Home.


References

  1. Benjamin, Kate. December 10, 2019. Personal Interview.
  2. Galaxy, Jackson and Benjamin, Kate. October 14, 2014. Catification: Designing a Happy and Stylish Home for Your Cat (and You!).
  3. Galaxy, Jackson.  November 9, 2017. What is Catification?  Jackson Galaxy.com. https://www.jacksongalaxy.com/blog/what-is-catification/
  4. Human Society of the United States. 2019. Our Position on Cats: A Collaborative Approach to Giving All Cats the Best Life Possible. Humane Society.org.  https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/our-position-cats

37 comments:

  1. It's pretty amazing how things have changed in not all that much time (in human years) for cats. My human has always been pretty kitty savvy, but her soul cat from the 1980s and 1990s had to endure being taken to the vet in one of those cheap cardboard carriers!

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  2. Mom Peggy has provided many appropriate scratching surfaces, cat beds, ham-micks, toys, a cat tree and kitty tents for my comfyness.

    Awesome post!

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  3. Your Giant human does lots of funs stuff for you both, thats is wonderful!!

    We are always trying to helps out Giant Lady too.

    Luvs,
    Rose the adult kitten

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  4. We have lots of beds for our cat to choose from in places he likes to sleep.

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  5. I have multiple beds and scratch boxes around my house as well as lots of toys. My cats are pretty good about not wrecking any furniture/household items so I don't really need to worry about that.

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  6. That was a fun article and we all sure do enjoy being catified!

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  7. Eastside Cats kinda looks like a cat rescue, but we humans don't care; we want Da Boyz and Angel to be comfy! That's not to say we wouldn't want to make it a bit nicer...thanks for the giveaway!

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  8. Great post. We have a lot of cat trees/poles so they can get up high. And lots of cardboard scratchers even though I hate all those pieces of cardboard getting everywhere.

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  9. I have a cat condo in the catified home.

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  10. Having cat furniture and toys, and just recently started putting up shelves specifically for my 3 cats.

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  11. WOWY! A Sleepypod giveaway?! I totally have been wanting one of these for a few years now! My pal, Bear Cat, has one and he luvs his. It's like his spaceship. Tee hee hee. Purr purr purr.

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  12. My cats have TAKEN over my home. Everything in my house is for the cats. My entire living room is covered in cat towers, toys, beds, etc. It's bad, lol. And we only have 2 cats!

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  13. Actually, I'm in the process of turning my girls' old play room into my TV/sitting/cat/dog room. I have some shelves I will be putting up (four shelves and five shelves) that I plan on putting just next to the closet. I'm going to put a catwalk shelf over the closet doors so the cats can get up there by the shelves. I have a brand new cat tree (still in the box) that will be going in here and need to get another scratcher for the cats, too. Of course, there will also be dog beds and the dogs can share the new couch (I love IKEA) with me. I'm working on getting 8" x 8" canvas prints of all my furbabies - both past and present - and will be putting the up where the cats won't be able to get to them. I can't wait until it's done!

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  14. I have comfy beds and scratch pads throughout the house!

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  15. Scratching posts, food/water bowls, toys (my cats love a birdie toy that chirps and balls that jingle).

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  16. Great post! I don't have a cat, but if I did I know I'd go way overboard with the catification haha. I totally spoil my pets....like, above and beyond what's normal. I'm always a bit embarrassed when people come over and see how much dog stuff I have in my house. But, my dogs are happy and that makes me really happy, so it's all good. I hope you don't mind I entered the giveaway even though I don't have a cat. I've always wanted to try Sleepypod products for my small dogs.

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  17. I cannot believe how much there is today for cats compared to the days when I had them, over 30 years ago it is amazing. The one lucky thing in those days was I had an open porch, high enough that they could not jump off plus I could keep the door partially open, so it was great for them

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  18. We definitely need to get ourselves a Sleepypod on our next visit to the USA!

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  19. I have 4 cat towers in one room where I can jump between them and one in another room.

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  20. One of the things is putting up a gate my cats can either walk under or jump over, but the dogs can't get around.

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  21. Mom's childhood cat was an inside outside un-nutered male/ He would come home beat up sometimes, but he still let her dress him up in doll cloths!

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  22. Several people that I know who have cats either have nothing special for them except a litter box or maybe one small cat tree. I do not own cats and did not realize that to keep cats happy indoors that they need multiple hide-a-ways and trees. Very informative post.

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  23. We and The Cats Who Came Before ALWAYS stayed inside at night. Well, OK, there were a "couple" times when they got things mixed up). But it was the RULE.

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  24. Great that you show these feeders which encourage foraging type behavior as part of feeding... have you tried a slow feeder/puzzle bowl? Cats will use their paw to grab the food from among the obstacles.

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  25. My sister has done a great job of catification and Clayton loves his cat house. He can't jump up too high, but he does have a few windows with wide ledges to watch the birds and squirrels from. A Sleepypod product is on our both of our wishlists. (I need one for my small dog.)

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  26. OOh, I love the "tower" pods. Awesome.

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  27. It's interesting how a cat's preferences change over the years. Bear used to be a tree dweller. He also goes through phases - I'm fascinated trying to make sense of them.

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  28. Funny when you say you were owned by cats....growing up, my mom always had cats (and dogs). She loved her kitties. One, Snowball, used to always come in my room and curl up in the crook of my legs...now, I am highly, highly allergic to cats, but we always had them and you are so right, they owned us! Even allergic, I always let Snowball sleep with me!

    That fishy game is so cute! I bet a lot of cats would love that under their tree! And a Sleepypod and scratching post...Santa Paws is going t have a very crowded sleigh for some very lucky kitties! Happy Holidays!

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  29. I love that you have furniture for the cats in almost every room. We are not there yet.

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  30. I have made blankets for them. Otherwise, what's mine is their's, mostly!
    -Tarah

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  31. I've made sure Lily has scratching posts, beds and perches throughout the house to feel safe and happy.

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  32. There are things to climb on and scratching posts all over the house.

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  33. We have scratching posts, lots of kitty toys, and 2 cat bed.

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  34. We have two cat trees. We also have a bunch of scratchers, tents, and cat beds.

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  35. I bought my Jingles a Tall Cat Tree She loves it loves to be up high

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  36. We've got some cat towers, cat toys everywhere and a few scratchers

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  37. Our girl Jasmine has a cat tower and she has beds in every room and a sit at patio window for her
    cathy truman

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