How to Build the Perfect Cathouse

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Entertain Your Cat
cat houseSet up some Kitty entertainment! People need to get out of the house and make a night of it at the local comedy club or take an exotic trip to Club Med. Well, Kitty can’t go wind surfing, but owners can certainly make her life more interesting. The first step is easy yet it’s the one most often overlooked. How many playthings does your cat have? Right now, look up from where you’re sitting. Scan the room. Better yet, get on your hands and knees and crawl around so you can see it from Kitty’s perspective. I bet that, at most, there are a few old toys around. Their novelty probably wore off months ago. Boring!

No cheating, now. Don’t even think about telling me there’s plenty of stuff around but it all happens to be under the chair or the sofa. The bottom line is that is they’re not in the room now they don’t count. If you can’t see the playthings, then you’re part of the problem. Be part of the solution instead.

Be sure Kitty has a bundle of toys. That goes for all the owners who say, “But my cat doesn’t like any toys. She won’t even play with anything.” To this is say, “pooh-pooh.” I’ve yet to find a cat that won’t play with something. For all the doubting Thomases, there are cats who turn up a disinterested nose at a lot of different playthings, but keep at it. Try everything that is commercially available or anything you can create. I guarantee, in almost every single case, you will come across something the furball enjoys. No matter how aloof or detached you think your cat may be, more than likely there are toys and activities she’ll enjoy. However, sometimes you need to be clever in how you present them.

Rotate Those Toys
Whatever Kitty’s choice of playthings just be sure you have plenty of them. And remember to rotate them, which means there should be at least two large batches of toys on hand at all times. Leave the first batch on the floor for two days while the second batch is stored in a closet. After two days, rotate them. Take the ones from the closet and place them on the floor, then take the ones from the floor and put them in the closet. Repeat this procedure every two days and you’ll create a fresh and interesting environment for Kitty. Clever cat kitties, just like human kiddies, become bored with the same old toys. Without toy rotation it would be like playing Scrabble every day for the year. It might be fun at first but it gets to the point where enough is enough. If you take away those toys and then return them a few days later, they’ll seem like brand-new play things all over again. I kind of hate to admit it, but I guess you could say we’re faking out our feline friends.

What a Sport! You Gave Kitty One Scratching Post
Most cat owners supply their cats with one scratching post. Big deal. As I’ve explained before, I believe cats are very intelligent animals, more intelligent than many experts and some owners think they are. This intelligent creature is bored to death with only one scratching post. If those telltale pieces of furniture stuffing are still stuck to Kitty’s paws or the carpet fringe is missing, then your cat is in the inquisitive, curious “I’m-too-bright-to-be-content-with-one-scratching-post” category. These cats need more, more, more.

Make Your Own Scratching Posts
If you’re independently wealthy, then by all means save yourself some trouble and go out and buy a bunch of scratching posts, poles, pads, and all the variations currently on the market. Rotate and change them frequently as I suggested you do with the toys. But if the thought of spending hundred of dollars on scratching posts, poles and the like is not appealing to you, or if you’ve decided you simply won’t get a second job to support Kitty’s habit, take advantage of the freebies at the supermarket. Try using cardboard boxes and brown paper bags (never use plastic bags or any bag with handles-they’re dangerous and could suffocate the cat). I thing everyone on the planet knows that is you put a paper bag or box on the floor, Kitty will be sniffing and smelling and wandering in and out of it within minutes, because the items are brand-new to her environment and are full of interesting and exciting odors. Cats have a grand old time exploring what supermarkets give away at no charge. She’ll think it’s kitty heaven.

Kitty Condos
Don’t be timid. Take the use of those cardboard boxes one step further-build a kitty condo or duplex apartment. Place together several strong cardboard boxes, cutting out a few holes in each so Kitty can climb in, out, and around her new co-op. Don’t be afraid to be a little creative, particularly if you want to save money. Save your old carpet remnants or get friendly with the local carpet distributor or installer. Grab those odd-sized, leftover, small pieces that get thrown out. Glue them to the sides of the boxes and voila!-a cheap, instant scratching post. What’s best about these do-it-yourself posts is, because they cost you nothing but five minutes of labor, you can change them all the time, keeping Kitty on her toes-literally.

If you’re the reserves type and find it difficult to hustle the local merchants for scrap carpet remnants, it’s still cheaper to buy some inexpensive doormats than it is to buy most scratching posts. Wait for a sale and buy a bunch.

Be Creative
Don’t fall into the old trap of using all the carpet with the nap side facing out. Many owners who swear their cats don’t like scratching posts are amazed to learn their kitty simply prefers to scratch on the rougher surfaces, including the underside of the carpet. Some cat owners know this already. They spend a lifetime smoothing out the ends of the area rugs after kitty has taken it upon herself to flip over the edges and scratch on the carpet’s underside.

I once had a client who was not particularly wealthy and believed that the best investment she could make for her future were Persian and Oriental rugs. She purchased them whenever she could and thought of them as her savings account and retirement fund all rolled into one. She believed they would increase in value more than anything else her money could buy, or any yield from the bank. She kept the carpets properly stored in an unused bedroom in her home and rarely went in to check on them. But one day she did and got the shock of her life. Upon her inspection she found that each and everyone had been clawed and scratched on the underside. Her cat had reached the ends of each rolled carpet and had a ball clawing and kneading away to her hearts content. Fortunately, the damage was on the carpet backing, so while it has made the carpets less than perfect and therefore less valuable, nothing was visible from the carpet top so it wasn’t a total loss. What could have been a terrible disaster has bearable negative results.

Try a Log
Try a what? Yup, a log or a piece of wood about the size used for a large wood-burning stove or fireplace. Some cats just love to do their stretching and scratching on wood so that no matter what you try, nothing else will do. After checking it first for bugs, bring the wood into the house and place it where Kitty likes to do her scratching. If she’s a wood clawer she’ll be delighted at the new addition to her inventory. What’s best is if you can replace the piece every few days with another piece. If you don’t have a wood source of your own, make a deal with someone you know who has a fireplace or wood-burning stove. Gung-ho owners can even bring larger pieces into the house. It’s a thrill when you see Kitty’s eyes light up. Yes, it is a bit of extra work but it may be the easiest step you can take to protect your belongings.