I am a crazy cat lady. This is an indisputable fact, as is the knowledge that I get my craziness honest through my cat lady Meemaw.
In my years as a cat lady, I have learned there are 5 things that I must have for my pride. I swear by all of these products. If you have cats, you need them.
Cats love to climb. If you don’t provide them something to climb, they will satisfy that deep-seated need by scaling your bookcases… or your curtains… or you. I have two cat trees that we bought, each standing about 5 feet tall with multiple levels and different styles of platforms for my critters to lay on. One has a cubby to hide in and rounded platforms with edges; the other is boxy in shape, but has a tube on the bottom. Both have sisal wrapped around the posts for scratching.
My cats are big. They’re not fat, but they average about 10-11lbs each and are quite long and solid. Dinky little cat scratchers don’t do it for them; they aren’t tall enough, or they tip and the cats don’t feel safe once they fall over and scare them once. Tall cat trees are essential for scratching, and my cats largely ignore my furniture in favor of their trees.
Unfortunately, big cat trees can be pretty pricey. Both of my store bought trees are from PetSmart, and one was about $150 here in the US, and the other was about $100 in Canada (cat trees are way cheaper there for some reason). Don’t let the price deter you – you can build your own cat tree for a fraction of that cost, using materials from the hardware store.
Cats are smart. The first house I lived in when I was teaching had a shitty foundation, and all of the doors were slightly… off. Q quickly realized that if she wanted in a room that was sealed to her, all she had to do was throw herself bodily at it and sooner or later it would pop open.
She taught that behavior to all my other cats, over time, despite the fact that we never lived in a house like that again. Instead, they’d just slam against the door… repeatedly… THUD THUD THUD.
Imagine waking up like that at 3am.
Cat doors are essential. I’d recommend you have one that provides access to an area with a litter box, and one that provides access to an area with food. They’re fairly inexpensive – about $20 for a basic one at PetSmart – and are easy to install with just a drill and a jigsaw. Canadian Bacon and I went a step further and installed our cat door here through the wall to our bedroom. It looks much nicer, and we figured it’d be easier/cheaper to patch the drywall should we ever decide to remove the cat door. If we put it through a door, we’d have to buy a whole new damn door.
There’s pretty much nothing a cat would rather play with than a laser pointer, and you can find em for $2.50 at Wal-Mart. All five of ours chase it all around, up and down the cat trees, up and down the stairs, back and forth as they skid across the laminate floors… and so on. It’s great exercise.
As a caveat, though, I’ve read that cats can start to feel “dissatisfied” if they only play with a laser pointer – it’s integral that they’re eventually allowed to capture something to feel like capable hunters. That brings me to my next must-have.
Feather on a Stick
There must be something magical about feathers on the end of a long stick, because cats go batshit for them. My cats especially like them when you whip them quickly back and forth in midair. They bounce around like little crackheads trying to catch it. There’s just so many ways you can play with a feather on a stick that it never gets old. I like the long flexible sticks so they’re whippier. I think I pay around $5 for one at PetSmart, and I replace them about once a year when they’re super raggedy.
Cardboard Shit to Destroy
While the cat tree helps redirect scratching, I find that the thing my cats love to scratch the most is a simple cardboard scratcher. They go NUTS with the cardboard, and love it especially when I sprinkle catnip on it. The only bad thing is that the scratcher makes a helluva mess. We’ll sweep and go to bed, and in the morning there’s little brown bits of cardboard everywhere and we have to sweep all over again.
I usually only buy my cats the cheap flat scratchers, but my Mom found this really cool curved one on deep sale at PetSmart. They love it soooo much and fight over who gets to sit on it. Rain usually wins.
And the obvious unsaid
Obviously, I didn’t include stuff on here like a high-quality food, a great litterbox, or catnip… that kind of stuff is a given. My critters also have other toys they love and play with, but the above are the things they absolutely couldn’t live without (or I couldn’t deal without, in the case of the cat door!). If you haven’t tried using some of them with your kitties, I would enthusiastically recommend that you do so!