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Ledges and catwalks allow felines to move about the room without touching the floor.

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The Mox Litter Tower keeps cats from tracking litter throughout the house.

By Arden Moore

    When it comes to roommates, cats are often underrated. Unlike some human roommates, cats will never “borrow” your credit card, read your personal email, nag you to wash the dishes or splash Merlot on your white cashmere sweater.

    Unlike their canine counterparts, felines don’t pester you to take them on daily walks, drool on your bedroom pillow or unleash a barking barrage each time a delivery person rings your bell.

    When you come home after a bad date or a demanding work day, you can usually count on your cat to greet you with soft eyes and a steady, soothing purr. Without uttering a human word, your cat has the ability to calm you, reduce your blood pressure and make you feel like a million bucks.

    Their worth in our lives is priceless. That’s why I say it may be time for you to invest in a feline home makeover. 

    Relax. I’m not suggesting you make your home look catty or break your bank. 

    But by adding the right fashionable-yet-functional feline furnishings and amenities, you can enrich your cat’s life — and avoid litter box boycotts or the unwanted confetti look on your sofa arms.

    Sadly, an indoor bored cat has few options: overeat, oversleep and become destructive. They deserve — and need — a home that provides mental and physical enrichments that bring out their hunter persona.

    “Cats have natural needs to kill, scratch, hunt, play and sleep,” says Kate Benjamin, founder of Catio Showcase and Hauspanther, a pair of websites that feature an array of feline furniture and toys.

    Kenneth Simmons, DVM, veterinarian and owner of Simmons Veterinary Hospital in Lake Worth, agrees. In designing the Purrington Inn boarding area at his clinic, Dr. Simmons tapped into feline instincts and interests in creating the designs and amenities.

    “Our three-story condos are designed so cats can climb from top to bottom in a jungle-gym set-up that provides them with outlets to exercise,” says Simmons, the proud owner of two cats named Merlin and Sirius Black. “These condos have visual access to the outside so the cats can see plants moving and birds flying — features healthy cats need.”

    At his home, he makes sure to play regularly with his felines who are fond of pawing bottle caps down the hallway or stalking shadows on walls from a penlight laser. He also provides Merlin and Sirius Black with a sturdy wide ledge and a cat tree for them to perch and survey their surroundings and look down on his three dogs, Bailey, Jesse and Sandy.

    The litter boxes are tucked inside decorative end tables that hide their visibility from houseguests, offer the cats privacy and prevent any access from the three dogs.

    Says Benjamin, “I consider myself a cat style expert with a dual mission: to meet the needs of cats and to make their people happy. Creating aesthetics and feline functionality at the same time can be achieved.”

    With the help of Simmons, Kate Benjamin and other feline experts, I offer these feline fashion ideas for your consideration:

     Treat your cat to a wall highway. The hottest feline décor trend is mounting catwalks or cat ledges on walls to enable cats to travel from say, the living room to the den without ever having to touch the floor. These catwalks should be about two feet wide to ensure the ability for two cats to be able to pass one another. They can be painted in colors to accent your home look. For ideas, check out the Cats House (www.catshouse.com) and Urban Cat Design (www.urbancatdesign.com). 

     Upgrade the simple scratching post. Cats claw to hone their nails as well as to mark their territory. Wobbly posts in inverted T-shape configurations just don’t cut it for 21st century cats. Invest in cat trees that provide multiple levels, hiding holes, dangling toys, ramps and various surfaces to scratch. You can build your own or check out these examples: Solvit’s Kittyscape (www.solvitproducts.com) or the Sebastian Cat Tree at Designer Pet Products (www.designerpetproducts.com).

     Disguise the litter box. There are many eye-appealing furniture ideas now to discreetly tuck litter boxes into end tables, cabinets (referred to as “catinets”) and more. For ideas, check out the Mox Litter Tower at Modern Cat Designs (www.moderncatdesigns.com) and the Merry Products Cat Washroom, available at Petco. Just remember to scoop the litter boxes daily and clean them weekly with mild dishwashing soap to keep your home smelling fresh and to encourage your cat to practice pristine bathroom habits. 

    Tap into your DIY talents. Rather than feel sticker shock by the price of some customized feline furnishings, be inspired by them to create your own. For example, you can tuck a hidden litter box inside an unused trunk or discarded cabinet. You can create safe and inexpensive cat toys out of cardboard boxes, wine corks and felt. For ideas, visit Benjamin’s feline-inspired home décor blog on Hauspanther (www.hauspanther.com).

    Parting advice from Simmons: “When you are decorating your home, you can make it win-win for you and your pets. And, you increase the chances of your cat being contented and less apt to display behavior issues such as house soiling or destroying furniture.”

Arden Moore, founder of FourLeggedLife.com, is an animal behavior consultant, editor, author, professional speaker and master certified pet first aid instructor. Each week, she hosts the Oh Behave! show on PetLifeRadio.com. Learn more by visiting www.fourleggedlife.com.

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