Have you ever wondered how many stars your cat would give your home if they were to leave a review? Do they see your house as a feline fantasyland — or a boring, human-centric place in which they are only a squatter?
The key to boosting this theoretical score and keeping your cat happy and satisfied in your home is to catify!
So what is catifying? Expert feline behaviorist Jackson Galaxy is credited with coining the term. In his words:
“Catification is the art of creating an enriched home environment that is acceptable to both you and your cat. Catification teaches us that every square inch of the home can be shared in a positive way. Allowing our cats to own spaces through scent distribution and finding confidence in the vertical world can be accomplished — all while respecting and adhering to our own personal aesthetics.”
Why Catify Your Home?
Physical and mental wellness
Keeping your cat active and exercising is crucial to ensuring they stay at a healthy weight. This is especially crucial with pet obesity on the rise, and an estimated over 60% of cats in the US overweight or obese.
Giving your cat trees to climb up and platforms to jump over every day keeps them more active and builds strong muscles. This is especially true if you use playtime to coax your kitty to chase their toy or wand all the way up, over and under your catified spaces!
Encouraging your cat to engage in their natural behaviors like scratching, climbing, pouncing and jumping is good for their mental enrichment, too. As fun as it is to have a long catnap, Whiskers still needs something to do all day — and catifying opens up new options for daily exploration!
Reduces behavioral issues
A bored cat is a frustrated cat! Our cats were born with natural instincts to hunt and defend a territory. They want the space they live in to feel like their own, and they want to be able to freely explore and patrol it.
Bored or insecure cats may have behavioral issues such as play-biting and attacking, inappropriate scratching and destruction, or spraying (particularly male cats). All of these behaviors represent your kitty attempting to feel more secure in their claim over the territory.
Catifying your space reduces these behavioral issues by giving your cat more territory and high-value spaces to claim as his or her own. Once your cat feels secure in his undisputed ownership of the cat ledges, climbing trees and other feline-friendly areas, he’ll feel less need to overcompensate by bullying the humans in the house!
Reduces interpet conflict
Multi pet households can sometimes feel like the Wild West to your cat: “This house ain’t big enough for the both of us!”
Catifying increases the available space for pets to claim, and also allows overstimulated or bullied pets to separate from each other. (For example, once Whiskers knows she can escape to the safety of her cat shelves when Fido is being annoying, she’s much less likely to swipe your pup on the nose.)
Ultimately, catification leads to a more harmonious home!
How to Catify Your House
Increase the vertical space
When it comes to catifying, the first step is to think like a cat…and understand that the floor is not the only walking surface your feline sees.
Mounting ledges on the walls or setting up climbing trees, towers and other vertical structures will empower your kitty to take her rightful place: high above you, surveying her domain!
Cats are natural climbers, so if you don’t give your kitty someplace that’s acceptable for her to climb, you’re going to start finding her in unacceptable or even dangerous places instead. So if you really don’t want Whiskers up on the fridge or kitchen cabinets, offer her another high spot instead where she can still observe the family activity without getting in your way (or getting stuck).
Of course, cats are creatures of habit, so you may have to use creative methods to subtly discourage your cat away from the places you don’t want them — while making their new area very appealing to them.
Remember: the key to coexisting with a cat is to tempt them into making a choice that happens to align with your preferences!
Connect your kitty highway
Once you’ve catified up, the next step is to catify around.
As Galaxy advises:
“Map out a space that will get your cat up off the floor, and create a continuous path that takes them all the way around the room without ever touching the floor (the cat superhighway). Now they have space they can claim as their own.”
To construct a cat superhighway, connect the tops of furniture with staggered shelves on the walls that your cat can use as jumping off points. Get creative — almost any surface can become part of the path!
Plan out the “flow” of your path to have clear direction. A cat tree is a good item to act as an “on ramp” up to the series of shelves on the wall, which should ultimately end with a table, desk or other structure to be an “off ramp” that allows your kitty safely back to the floor.
The construction of a cat superhighway is especially important if you have multiple pets, so that your cat can escape from the annoying dogs or kids or even get some separation from other cats.
If you have multiple cats, try to avoid confrontational “traffic jams” on the highway by building multiple on and off ramps.
Create cozy hideaways
Your cat furniture should also include multiple hideaways and beds so your kitty has somewhere comfortable to lounge and snooze.
Remember that what looks like the perfect catnap spot to you may not be what Whiskers prefers. Each cat has their own purrsonality! Some cats want to be tucked out of sight, others choose to hang out above you, while the most sociable insist on always being right in the center of things.
Take note of where your cat normally sleeps or perches. This will give you a hint if your cat likes enclosed spaces (like caves and boxes) or if they prefer open resting spots (like hammocks and uncovered beds).
Provide scratching spots
Have you ever thought to yourself, “There’s a perfectly good scratching post in the corner! So why does Whiskers insist on scratching the couch?”
Well, wonder no more. Your cat scratches the sofa because it’s a socially important place where you and your family often rest in the evenings, and your kitty wants to make it known that she’s part of the family, too!
Scratching is your cat’s way of claiming and marking important places in your home, to say, “Yes, I belong here.” In a way, take it as a compliment — she just wants to be close to you!
However, if you’d rather your kitty show her love by an alternative method than destroying Grandma’s couch, the key is to provide plenty of appealing scratching options nearby. Don’t tuck all scratchers in the corners of the room if your cat wants to be right in the middle of things!
See what material or style your cat likes (a scratching post? Scratching mat? Scratching ball? Sisal vs carpet?) and provide acceptable alternatives that will make you both happy. (In the meanwhile, you may also have to wrap the sofa in double-sided sticky tape to encourage Whiskers to move on.)
Spread out the necessities
Don’t forget the bare necessities as you catify.
Your kitty’s food, water and litter box should be in easily accessible but separate places. Most cats have an instinctive desire to meet these three needs in different locations, reducing the risk of cross-contamination and illness. It’s also important to provide multiple water sources, to reduce the risk of dehydration.
In the cat world, the litter box is an important location. It’s essentially the feline equivalent of a “Welcome to the Jones Home” sign, proudly declaring who lives here. Your cat feels most secure in their territory with that ownership sign right out in the open. Therefore, don’t hide the litter box — keep it as close to the “center of the action” in your home as you can.
If you have multiple cats, make sure you have enough litter boxes for them all. The general rule of thumb is to have one one more litter box than you have cats. So if you have one cat, you should have two litter boxes; two cats, three litter boxes; and so on.
Places you can catify
Catification is as possible in a small apartment as it is in a large house.
Once you look around through your cat’s eyes, you’ll see plenty of places to build climbing structures. Try the stairs, the bookshelves, the spaces around the edge of the room — and more!
Now is the time to let your imagination go wild. As Galaxy says,
“Get creative. You can use cat shelves, your own furniture, odds-and-ends you might find in your garage (a nice trunk, wine crate, etc.). When they have spaces to leave their scent, this reinforces the feeling of “this space is mine,” which fosters a feeling of confidence, security, and comfort.”
Even better, take the catification outdoors by building a “catio” on your balcony, or in your garden or backyard!
Catifying your house, apartment or even your bedroom is a fun way to enhance the environment your kitty lives in and encourage their natural behaviors. Whether you craft a complex series of tunnels connecting every room in your house, or simply add a couple ledges up a few walls, every little bit of catification helps your best furiend thrive.
Remember that catifying doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your personal style. There are many creative and artistic cat wall climbing systems and cat scratchers that are subtle and fit into your aesthetic, and the market for cute and stylish cat furniture is growing by the day.
Of course, if you’re crafty, you can always DIY your own awesome cat furniture!
At the end of the day, the heart of catification is making a home both you and your kitty will love. That means more happy purrs and peaceful catnaps for you both!