Home Sweet Home

For many cats, their home is their whole world. All cats need to feel safe and secure and to have the opportunity to display normal cat behaviors, like playing and scratching. You can set up your home to help your cat feel confident and relaxed and to encourage appropriate behavior. By taking a little time to set up your home, you are also helping prevent unwanted behavior.

First Things First

Cats need certain things in their environment to fulfill basic needs. If there are multiple cats in a home, make sure you have enough of these resources for all the cats to prevent competition. This is especially important if you are adding a new cat to your home or if there is any conflict between the cats.

Examples of Basic Resources:

  • Litter boxes
  • Scratching posts
  • Food/water stations
  • Comfortable hiding and sleeping spaces
  • High resting/perching spots
  • Toys and interesting things to explore
  • Interaction and interactive play with human family members

Vertical Space

Cats love the 3D trend! Unlike (most) people and dogs, cats use their space vertically as well as horizontally. It is very important they have options for perching or resting up off the ground so they can feel safe and secure. Again, this becomes even more important if there are multiple cats in the home or stress/change in a cat’s life. Creating vertical space in your home is like adding an extra room in your cat’s eyes!

Examples of vertical space:

  • Bookcase
  • Shelf
  • Cat tree
  • Milk crate
  • Dresser
  • Desk
  • Chair
  • Table
  • Counter
  • Cushion on floor
  • Sturdy cardboard box

Litter Box Setup

The type, placement, and cleanliness of a cat’s litter box can have a big impact of their willingness to use it. Look at the information below when setting up your cat’s litter box, particularly if your cat has ever had an outside-the-box accident. While some cats are more tolerant than others or have individual preferences that are different from what is listed, these guidelines are generally applicable and a good starting place. If you need to make changes, do so slowly so the cat can adjust. Litter boxes that suddenly move across the house may be difficult for the cat to find and abrupt changes can cause a cat to start avoiding the box, even if those changes were made in order to make the box more appealing. In a multi-cat house it is recommended to have one more litter box than the number of cats.
  • Uncovered to prevent the cat from feeling trapped or cornered
  • Large enough for the cat to turn around completely
  • Sides low enough for the cat to easily climb in and out
  • Dispersed through the house, on all floors that your cat has access to
  • An area where your cat can see all around and have multiple escape options
  • Away from strong scents or loud noises such as appliances
  • Away from high traffic areas where your cat may be surprised or startled
  • Not near food or water bowls
  • Unscented
  • Fine-grained or sand-like
  • Scoop 1-2 times a day
  • Dump all litter and refill every 1-2 weeks
  • Completely wash box at least once a month

Enrichment

“Environmental enrichment” for your cat gives her physical and mental stimulation during the day. This releases energy and relieves stress; both important for wellness and decreasing unwanted behaviors. Throughout the day, cats generally alternate being active for short periods with sleeping. So enrichment provides cats with an outlet even when you are unavailable to entertain them. Even senior, shy, or “mellow” cats benefit from enrichment.

Examples of Environmental Enrichment:

  • Scratching posts
  • Tunnels, paper bags and boxes to explore
  • Window perches to view the outdoors
  • Solo toys that the cat bats around or tries to catch
  • Food foraging options like treat balls or treats hidden in boxes
  • Videos for cats, often of birds or small animals
  • "Catios" that allow cats to experience the outdoors safely

Next Steps

Need help setting up your home to reduce your cat’s behavior problems?

Want to learn more about cats and how to set you and your cat up for a happy life together?

Next Steps

Need help setting up your home to reduce your cat’s behavior problems?

Want to learn more about cats and how to set you and your cat up for a happy life together?