How To Make Your Home A Cat-Friendly Oasis, According To An Expert

Your home should be tailored to meet your own personal needs as well as the needs of others who share the space with you. This applies to human and non-human family members alike, especially if you have cats living in the house. Your feline companion requires a lot of the same things you do, but they just might not be as obvious as you would think. Just like we do, cats need stimulation, a clean eating space, a dedicated area for making their business, and other amendments to ensure a happy, healthy living environment.

If you have an indoor cat, it's especially important to think about their needs. Otherwise, their natural instincts could trigger them to act out and ruin furniture or home décor or not get the proper exercise they deserve which may lead to unhealthy habits. To get some tips on how to create the ideal home environment for your cat, we went right to the professionals. In an exclusive interview with House Digest, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Cat Behavior Consultant with The Dog People by, Dr. Mikel (Maria) Delgado gave us the inside scoop on making your home more pet-friendly. "A cat oasis should take into consideration behaviors that are considered healthy for cats, such as climbing, scratching, hiding, resting, and playing as well as what your cat, as an individual, enjoys," she tells us, "Most cats will appreciate at least some of the following environmental necessities."

Furniture essentials

If you are the type of pet owner who wants to keep their animals off of their furniture — wishful thinking, but more power to you — then providing your cat with pieces just for them may discourage their need to cozy up on your own furnishings. "A cat tree allows your cat to climb, keep an eye on their domain, and rest high above the ground," Cat Behavior Expert Dr. Mikel Delgado tells us, "I recommend getting a tree that is at least 6 feet tall."

One way to help an indoor cat get the stimulation they need is to find ways to view the outside world without actually stepping outside. "When placed in a sunny window, it allows your cat to soak up the sunbeams while watching birds and squirrels," Dr. Delgado says. She also mentions the importance of exercise for your pet and what you can do to increase their mobility. "Bring in a tall, sturdy scratching post (or a few) so they can stretch their back muscles and condition their claws." Scratching posts are also the perfect deterrent so that your cat doesn't decide to use other pieces of furniture around the home as a place to test their claws. For a little extra pampering for your precious purring feline, she notes, "Cats prefer a much warmer environment than we do, and most cats really appreciate a heated pet bed."

Appeal to their nature and stimulate their senses

Cats are naturally curious and love to resort back to their predatory instincts. This means that you should introduce plenty of toys to keep your cat stimulated and places where they can be tucked away during their downtime. "Hiding at times is normal for cats, [but] hiding all the time is not," Dr. Mikel Delgado says, "Give them cubbies and cave-like beds to hide in. Even a cardboard box tipped on its side with a fuzzy bed inside can be inviting for many cats." Cat tents and beds will also offer just the right cozy environment for your kitty to feel safe.

For their playtime, there can be beneficial and space-beautifying ways to incorporate greenery into your pet-friendly home. "Many cats enjoy catnip or silver vine, or a fresh pot of cat grass," Dr. Delgado mentions. These plants provide a non-addictive olfactory stimulant that can be just the thing for added enjoyment around the home. To keep their minds just as sharp as their claws, she also suggests that "Food puzzles allow your cat to problem solve and exercise their mind while eating." Finally — if time and money allow it — there is a special addition to your home that could give your indoor cat a luxurious space for outside enjoyment. "If you're ready to splurge and give your cat safe outdoor time, you can't beat a catio (an enclosed patio for cats)," she says.