A good number of our clients are cat lovers and have the feline focus front and center when design planning. Here’s what we’ve learned when working with these captivating companions.
While cats can be a potential hazard to most décor, planning ahead can minimize destruction. Cats are so independent and crafty (read: difficult to train) that it is often better to simply decorate around them. Using common sense, and paying attention to their behavior, should help you design a space that looks as good as it feels to your furry friends.
The over-arching design dilemma stems from the feline’s desire to scratch everything made of fabric, including sofas, draperies and pillows- the core elements of a designer’s toolbox. Recommended deterrents include natural cat repellent, ear-piercing furniture alarms, and plastic sofa protectors to set some ground rules about what’s off limits.
Climbing cats can be trained to keep off mantles, bookshelves and special chairs through gentle negative reinforcement. Tape balloons or two-sided tape to delicate or dangerous areas. They’ll quickly learn to avoid the loud noise or annoyingly sticky situation.
But ultimately what works comes down to your particular cat’s behavior and personality. Some of our cat friends hate smooth textures, making upholstery in velvet, leather and ultrasuede safe options. Providing an enticing scratching post and using praise is a good way to positively reinforce good behavior from your pet.
There are other pet owner strategies that help minimize cat (and dog, for that matter) wear and tear. Vets tell us spayed and neutered animals are calmer. Groomed pets shed less. Clipped claws scratch less. Certain foods are more digestible and produce less waste. Cats that are played with and exercised regularly are less likely to scratch, chew and trash things when you’re not home (same goes for my lap dog!). Love and attention conquer a multitude of anxious pet activity- just ask Cesar Milan!
Through Your Cat’s Eyes (from Petplace.com)
Before you start to redecorate, try imagining your home as your cat sees it. Is there a place where exciting scents accumulate? Are there quiet places? Areas of activity? Areas where you can hear birds sing?
Think about how your cat reacts to specific objects. Does your tumbling kitten invariably knock over a floor lamp? Replace it with one with a heavy base. Does your beloved animal shed all over a light-colored sofa? Think about using a washable slipcover or coordinating their fur to your upholstery.
Also, consider the way your cat reacts to events in the home. Your cat may choose to sleep – and shed – on your favorite recliner or pillow simply because it smells like you. While you can train an animal to respect certain objects or areas, you can’t predict everything about an animal’s preferences, and you’ll have to plan accordingly.
We loved this posting on Apartment Therapy by Kate from Moderncats.net:
Biggest Indulgence: I have splurged on some high-end cat products like a Moderncritter bentwood scratcher, a Pod Bed from Hepper Home, a Sweet Lounge cardboard lounge/scratcher from Marmalade Pet Care, and a tall cat condo from Modern Cat Designs. These products are not typical throw-away pet items; they are more like high-quality furniture. All of them fit beautifully into my home, and each one is a conversation piece. There are several other companies like these that are making high-quality, well-designed cat products that will last for years. These products are well worth the investment.
Best Advice: Cat proof all surfaces, because if the cats can go there, they will. Tempered glass is a great way to protect delicate furniture finishes.
Cats like to have small spaces to hide in, but I tried to eliminate hiding spaces where I couldn’t reach the cats in an emergency. I chose a platform sofa and bed for this reason.
If you have older cats, they may have a hard time jumping up onto a regular bed or sofa. Choosing a low-slung design will accommodate your aging kitty.
If you have a paper eater like I do, keep all mail and other papers safely out of reach. Covered toilet paper roll holders can also prevent cats, and especially kittens, from unraveling the whole roll.
Give your cats lots of toys to play with — small stuffed mice and foam balls are popular at my house. You probably don’t want them scattered all over when guest come to visit. A decorative bowl or other container placed on the floor makes an elegant and handy place to stash toys while keeping them accessible and adding a cat-friendly decorative element to your home.
If you have minimal storage space, it can be hard to find room to hide the cat carrier. Consider purchasing an attractive carrier that can be kept out and used as a bed. This has the added benefit of making the carrier a comfortable, familiar spot, making trips to the vet less stressful (on both cats and humans).
Provide some small spaces for kitty to curl-up in. If you don’t have any built-in areas, there are lots of attractive pet beds available that will look great in a modern home.
Be creative! Look for interesting items that could be perfect for cat climbing and perching, such as footstools and side tables. Build some cat climbing shelves with simple materials from the hardware store and cover them with carpet tiles.
Enjoy living with your pets, spend time with them, and love them. If some element of your home is not working for both you and your pets, change it.