Things Cats Need
Cats have several needs that require humans to provide various items so the cats can fulfill their needs. Aside from needing food and water, cats also need litter boxes; scratching items; toys, high places; safe, snuggly sleeping spots; and a carrier. There are some particular considerations regarding all of those, some that will vary with the individual cat, or depending upon how many cats are in the home.
Certain items can help solve some behavior problems of cats. In truth, some of what humans call "behavior problems" are due to the cats not having the correct things they need, such as scratching posts, or large enough litter boxes. The cats will still need to do certain behaviors, so without acceptable items provided for them, they will have to make due with items in your home, such as scratching on your furniture.
Do read through this section to find out some things cats need, some things they like, and some ideas on how to make living with cats better for them and you!
While cats do like to sleep on human furniture such as beds, sofas and stuffed chairs, they like it better when a cat-sized mat, blanket or even an item of your clothing is on those furniture items. Cat beds, mats and blankets add extra comfort, and warmth, depending upon what material the mat or blanket is made from, and how warm or cold it is in the house.
It is not only for comfort reasons that cats love to lie on a cat-sized fabric item on top an already comfy piece of furniture. It seems that small cat-sized blankets or mats are a special defined territory which makes cats feel more secure, especially in a multi-cat home. Cats who won't both nap on the bed or the couch at the same time sometimes will if there are separate little mats or blankets, apparently feeling that as long as the other stays on his or her own mat, the area is divided satisfactorially.
Cats usually prefer to sleep up off the floor, so place mats and pet beds up on something, perhaps on a table, the foot of your bed or the end of the couch (unless you bought an elevated pet bed.) Placement matters a lot to cats, and a particular cat will have his own ideas of where the right place is. So if a cat won't use a pet bed or blanket, try it in different areas. Or wait until the seasons change to see if it is used more when it is cold.
Also, when something brand new is brought into home, it smells "alien" to the cats. They usually take a few days to start sleeping on a new cat bed. It is good to wash a new cat bed, mat or blanket, so it smells like the usual "clean laundry" smell the cats are used to from the clothing you wear, not to mention simply getting it fresh and clean after who knows where it had been previously and what got on it.
A cuddle cup acts like a blanket around a cat, to help keep in body heat. Many cats love cuddle cups to nap in, particularly in the winter during the night when humans tend to turn down the heat. Cats might not use them in the warm seasons at all, as they get too hot. These are excellent for cats who usually tend to sleep curled up. Cats who tend to sleep stretched out won't care much for a cuddle cup.
If a cat won't use a cuddle cup or sided bed even in the winter, move it to another location, such as on top of a table, dresser, on a bed, or a different room. Cats tend to prefer to sleep up off the floor, especially in the winter, since hot air rises and floors can have cold drafts.
Note that in a multi-cat home, where there are some tensions between cats, a timid cat won't prefer a high sided cuddle cup, since they can't see what is coming near them without rising up. Or a cat might not see that a rival cat is burrowed down in the high sided cup until they jumped in on top on the rival, leading to a possible fight! But, in such a home situation, the regular lower sided cuddle cups work out well.
Jolie likes to rest her chin on the edge of a low cuddle cup. It's comfortable, and allows her to see what's going on in the room if she hears a noise while snoozing.
A unique cuddle cup is the Beds 4 Pets Sunflower Cat Bed. It has a peep hole built into the side, which will avoid the problem that can occur with the higher sided cuddle cups in a multi-cat home. Cats wanting to go in the bed can see that another cat is in it, before they jump in on top of the snoozing cat inside! A timid cat will be more likely to use this bed since the peep hole allows a view of what is going on in the area. This bed comes in three colors and two sizes.
A version of the cuddle cup has low sides, along with one side even lower. Small, very young kittens are able to simply walk into it. This type of sided bed is a also good choice for cats with poor mobility, perhaps due to arthritis or an injury.
A low cost or free alternative is to use a low sided, cat sized cardboard box, filled with a small soft cushion. Then roll towels or a small blanket you already have into a "tube" to make cushioned sides for the cat to lean on. It won't be beautiful, but it will be comfy for the cat.
Vayna is happy with this perfectly sized box, complete with that wonderful brown paper that is good to lie on, and then play with later on! (Photograph courtesy of Alisha)
Besides pleasing cats, mats or blankets often help cut down on housekeeping by limiting where the cat's lie and wind up leaving behind shed fur. Even if the bed or couch is already covered with a blanket, cats do prefer a separate little mat or small blanket, and will tend to continue lying on it rather than at random places on the bed or couch. Most mats and blankets can be machine washed, but if not, it is easier to brush off a limited area than all the stuffed furniture.
There are various kinds of flat cat mats and blankets available. You can even buy a small, soft blanket meant for human infants. Cats love flannel, so a flannel pillowcase can work as a small blanket for a cat to lie on.
One kind that cats love are Lance's Kitty Blankies, available at Lonewolf Designs:
Seamus making "happy feet" on a Lonewolf cushioned mat.
|Snoozing on a Lonewolf Kitty Blanky.|
Flexi-Mat Mysterious Purr Padd are polyester mats with an electro-static charge that traps hair, dirt, and dust. Fibers work as an insulator to absorb and hold heat. These would be good to put on a stuffed chair a cat likes to lounge on.
Flat, oval or rectangular mats are good to use on the foot of the bed, on the couch or a chair, as well as in a cat carrier. It is good to have a mat in the carrier that the cat has used elsewhere for happy naps, so the cat may feel more secure when being transported. They come in various colors and fabics.
A mat with a bolster on one end allows a cat head support while curled up, or stretched out fully. It also leaves room for a buddy to snuggle up!
Some cats like hooded or "cave" beds. They provide an extra sense of security, and help keep drafts off a cat who is in one. Cave beds can make a nice cozy "nest" for young kittens since they are protected on three sides and the top from drafts. Minerva usually sleeps in her cave cuddle cup, which is placed on the floor, every night in the winter.
Treat your cat like royalty with one of the fancy tent beds. The sleeping cushions are filled with 100% natural buckwheat hulls, which molds to the pet's body for maximum support and comfort.
Heated cat beds are great for when it is cold, even in the summer if you keep the air conditioner on higher than is comfortable for the cat. Older cats and cats with arthritis will appreciate a heated bed.
If you decide to use a heated bed or heated pad with infant kittens, be SURE there is a non-heated area they can move to if they get too hot! Being overheated is just as bad as being chilled.
A kind of heated bed uses a microwavable insert that you warm in the microwave, then place in a covering or in the bed itself. This type of bed can avoid the worries one may have with cats chewing cords, or with the bed getting too hot. And of course, this kind of heated bed will work where there is no electric outlet. Some will provide warmth for up to 12 hours.
This adorable, heatable pet bed by Kits N Kaboodle has the bolster many cats love, so they can rest their heads, and they can chose whether to sleep stretched out or curled up. It has an herbal insert that you briefly heat in the microwave to create a warm comfy place for your cat.
There are electric heated cuddle cups, heated window perches and mats available. Some electric mats are rated for outdoor use, so you can use them in outdoor shelters or on a porch for feral cats. There are even electric pads made to fit the igloo outdoor pet houses, which can make life for feral cats better in the winter!
K&H Thermo-Kitty Bed
K&H Electric heating pad for Igloo style pet houses. Covers available.
Thermo Kitty Mat
A window hammock is a great, inexpensive item that cats love and use all the time. The window hammocks can be found in many pet stores as well as department stores such as Wal-mart. The hammock, shown on the left, isn't a swinging item. It is a saggy cloth fitted onto a plastic frame.
The hammocks come with directions and supplies to use velcro to hold it to the window sill, but with two or three cats sharing it, that does not hold with much repeated use, as two of our cats found out to their shock and dismay the day the hammock fell when they were in it! So it is best to affix the frame to the windowsill with the screws supplied. Aside from being a comfy snoozing spot, the cats also use them to watch the world out the window. Replacement covers for the frame are available. Cream Cat Napper
You can buy cat beds that look like miniature human beds, fancy chaise lounges, couches, a car, etc. Prices vary.
Get Cat Themed Items
Nao Comfy Kitty Porcelain Figurine
Fine poreclein figurine of a kitten sleeping in a basket. Made in Lladró Studios. Hand-crafted, 3-1/2 inches tall.
All My Patients are Under the Bed
By Dr. Louis J. Camuti
The late Dr. Camuti wrote in an entertaining style about his veterinarian practice in NYC, which concentrated on cats. His clients included cats of the rich and famous, and of "ordinary" people.
This 100% cotton throw blanket will provide comfort and provide decoration for your room. Features a sleeping cat with the words, "Home is Where the Cat is".
Measures approximately 70" x 54".
Very soft security blanket meant for human babies, but cats and kittens will like it too!
What Our Cats Love
Seamus and Jolie snoozing together
Galen resting his chin