(These are my kids Coheed and Taz)
My little fur balls of terror have given me quite the education on this subject. After years of struggling I finally found a balance that works for them and me.
Sharing a space with felines can be a challenge, specially while trying to preserve a level of style. Following these simple steps can help guide you towards a human/cat space balance that everyone can be happy with.
THERE ARE NEVER TOO MANY TOYS
Some cats have toy preferences, and these can change with age. Many kittens will be content with string but as they age they will need something slightly more stimulating. This was true for my cats, both were content with string as babies and now they each have their own preference. Taz is fetch driven with her toy choices and Coheed is sound driven. Taz has grown to love straws, hair ties, and stuffed mice- all of which derived from her love of fetch. Coheed also chases after the stuffed mice and hair ties but his toy of choice are balls with bells.
REWARD GOOD BEHAVIOR
Cat’s can be much harder to train than dogs. Dogs have a natural instinct to people please that we have literally selectively bread into them, cats however have a much more independent sensibility. Cats are much more likely to respond to positive re-enforcement because of this.
If your cat has a habit of clawing your couch even with their scratching post nearby try giving them rewards when they choose the correct item to kneed on. Finding a variety of rewards for them can also be a great tool. For some cats a food treat will be the best reward where others would prefer a good rub down or a toy. Providing a variety can help you determine which one means more to your cat and can help direct you to changing their behavior positively.
Cat’s are extremely clean animals. They are born with the desire to use a litter box, they understand that a box with loose gravel is a desirable place to relieve themselves. They prefer to drink moving water because it is reminiscent of a stream, where as still water in the wild is often stagnate and unsafe to drink. Because of this it is very important to keep their environment clean. Litter boxes should be cleaned daily along with water dishes to keep them appealing. If you have an automatic watering system make sure food or dirt does not end up in there as this will deter their desire to drink from it. Filtered water is also a good idea for cats, some chemicals used to filter tap water can actually build up in their systems and cause medical problems.
Cat proofing your house is oddly very similar to child proofing your home. Tucking away cords and installing baby locks on cabinets are good beginnings for any cat owned human. This will not only save them from any medical issues but also damaging your expensive household items. This is another area where cat toys/furniture come in handy, by giving them things they can entertain themselves with they are less likely to look for their own ‘toys’.
REMEMBER WHY YOU HAVE THEM
I think the hardest part is understanding that having a cat comes with a responsibility to give them a happy life. Cats cannot be happy if they are not permitted to act like cats! If your biggest concern is about not having cat furniture because it does not agree with your aesthetic you have some soul searching to do. Cats need their own space to claw, scratch, and play on so unless you have no problem with them ripping your couch up you must provide them with cat furniture. Even if you cant afford the giant cat condos, a scratching post next to your couch can be just as effective so do your research and find one you can live with.
A cat’s natural instinct is to scratch and claw anything to keep their nails sharp and ready for a hunt. Scratching is also a frustration reliever for cats which is why they will tend to scratch more when their humans direct negative energy at them for doing so! By providing them with a space where that is permitted they will loose their desire to scratch the things that are for human use.
Ultimately there are sacrifices you will have to make for your new family additions but those sacrifices will well be worth it! My cats bring me so much joy and knowing that I am providing them with a balanced home is as important to me as a balanced home for me and my husband!