Back in January – on Australia Day, to be precise – I picked up a kitten. Well at least I went to pick up a kitten. I came home with two, but you know how these things go. Normally I tend to feel cats are ideally solitary animals. I see so many cats for anxiety and aggression problems that stem directly from having to share a house with another cat – I guess it colours my perceptions. Anyway – I came to collect the big pot-bellied black & white boy I had met a few weeks earlier and discovered his scrawny little sister, hiding under the couch, and she still didn’t have a home to go to.
So I came home with two delightful kittens. They had grown up so far in the best possible situation – a moderately busy suburban house with two teenage boys running around. The only improvement would have been a dog in the house as well.
These two gorgeous little monkeys settled in to my place rapidly. The only stumbling block was their lack of dog socialisation and my old girl Katie’s lack of cat socialisation. However, it really didn’t take too long for those barriers to crumble and, six months later, they are all doing fine. Granted, little Jennie denying Katie access to her bed by perching neatly in the middle of it, or trying to lick Katie’s face, still causes Katie to whine and look at me pleadingly, but overall I’m very happy with how they have come together.
To ensure them the best chance of settling in well I dedicated a room to them. It was a room I had set up for hospital patients to stay over the weekend, so it wasn’t hard to modify it for my tiny felines. Initially it was just a box or 3 and a standard tall commercial cat tree. Of course these cats will be entirely indoor cats – unless taken out on lead. So if I want to set the security alarm or open external doors or have visitors/parties etc I can easily close them in their room – they know they are safe there and so do I. They immediately adopted the top level of the cat tree as their prefered bed.
Since that basic beginning I have made progressive changes to their room and furniture as well as feline furniture in the rest of the house. The main cardboard castle has grown from the initial 2 large connected boxes to a mini labyrinth of interconnected boxes and chambers. Every time I get a new cardboard box I find a way to glue and/or tape it onto the growing cardbopolis. They love it. They don’t use it as a combat platform as much as I thought they might, but they both go through it and over it the whole time and Jennie uses the lower chamber as her panic room if things get a bit frightening (like me triggering the security alarm).
A couple of months ago I installed a set of tiered shelves up one wall. The shelves are basic Bunnings items and are mounted on rails that are firmly bolted to the wall. This means I can rearrange the shelves into dozens of different combinations without needing any tools. Onto these shelves I have another moving feast of boxes, towels, scratching posts and other diversions. I like to rearrange things every few weeks – it always spikes their curiosity!
Most recently I have made them as near a real tree as an indoor cat can have. I found an old paperbark trunk down by the river and dragged it up to my house and spent about 3 weeks, drying, scrubbing, scraping and finishing this lovely gnarly old piece of wood. With the application of a secure and grippy base plus a screw out heavy-duty furniture foot at the very top I have the cat equivalent of a home pole-dancing setup. Wrapping parts of this ancient trunk with sisal rope was key – it provided much needed safe traction for climbing moggies, and it reinforced the trunk in places where splits were likely to grow over the expected years of pressure and punishment. Both Mark and Jennie took to their tree with much delight. Toys and treats were initially used to get them to climb up and try it out and within 24 hours they had incorporated it into their regular play.
Early on I got them harnesses and started allowing them into the yard to explore, every few days or so. They love this VERY much and I wish I had more time to spend taking them out. I also spend as much time as I can (nowhere near enough, by the way – I’m just too busy) doing simple training with them. We are just working on recall training at this point.
I hope this post has given you some ideas to make your cats and/or kittens happier! You are welcome to call and book me to come and check your cats and help you with some economical yet high impact cat furniture solutions. All Australian cats should live indoors – but that creates a opportunity to make the house interesting from a cat’s point of view! Call us today for help.