Whether you've recently moved into a new home or you're reorganizing an existing one, you might be thinking about how to give your cats a room where they can feel comfortable and enjoy themselves. Besides taking care of their food, water and litter box needs, you can also set up structures for them to explore, jump and climb. In a well-organized room, these can be set up while still making the "cats' room" enjoyable for humans as well.
Access to Food and Water
Whether your cat comes into your home or stays indoors all the time, you will want to make sure the cat's basic needs are met. Specifically, you'll want to provide the cat with food and water, as well as a litter box where the cat can effectively use the bathroom.
Some people allow cats to free feed throughout the day, leaving a steady supply of dry cat food available, while others keep their cats on a regular mealtime schedule. Figure out what's best for your cats based on their eating habits and talk to your veterinarian if you're not sure. Don't leave wet food sitting out, as it can go bad quickly.
When it comes to hydration, you'll want to make sure your cat has access to fresh water throughout the day. You can provide a bowl that you refill or even a cat water fountain. Keep food and water in an area where the cat feels safe, usually with a good vantage point on the room rather than isolated in the corner.
Choosing a Litter Box Location
You'll also want to provide a litter box for cats to use the bathroom. Change the litter regularly, and consider placing the box in a larger container or on a mat to easily catch spilled litter. Keep the litter box away from food and water for sanitary reasons and the cats' comfort, and keep in mind your comfort when you're deciding where to put it in your home.
Entertaining Cats' Room Features
Most pet owners would prefer that their cats be happy and entertained, not simply provided with a place to eat and use the bathroom. You can buy or build a variety of features to keep your cat entertained, even when you're not home. Setting up stairs, a tower structure or shelves for cats to climb and jump gives them an opportunity to satisfy their instinct for exploration and to climb to a high vantage point where they can look at what's going on within the room as if hunting. You can also provide spaces for cats to curl up and sleep, such as enclosed areas on shelves.
Additionally, consider getting a scratching post for your cats. This will allow them to maintain their claws and entertain themselves. It also makes it less likely they'll scratch furniture that you don't want to have claw marks. Toys such as rattles and balls will let cats play with and without you. Some electronic toys such as robot mice even give cats something to chase, and you can find versions that you can remotely control to play with your cat.
Not every feature in your cats' room has to be permanent. You can give cats cardboard boxes and paper bags to play with, often to their delight.
Cat-Proofing Your Space
You may also want to take steps to keep cats coexisting with humans to everyone's comfort and safety. Be careful with objects like glasses and vases that cats can accidentally knock off a table or shelf. Don't leave out human food or other items that can be dangerous to cats. Also remember to keep cat food and litter away from human children for their safety.
Steven Melendez is an independent journalist with a background in technology and business. He has written for a variety of business publications including Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, Innovation Leader and Ad Age. He was awarded the Knight Foundation scholarship to Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.