{Reader Submission} Cat-Proof Design

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Today is a VERY exciting day because I have a reader submission to share with you!

Emily is a busy lady with two busy kitties. Her cats’ hobbies include:

  • Knocking over lamps
  • Knocking over art
  • Knocking over plants
  • Knocking over everything
  • Eating cords

Here’s her email:

As someone with fur-babies you might – MIGHT – understand my problem. I have two cats, Maurice and Cale (after Maurice Sendak and John Cale), they are sister and brother, and they are bad. They destroy everything. It’s impossible to have flowers anywhere, or books, or fancy decorative plates, or pretty much anything, in a place where it could be reached within cat jumping distance, which is about 35 feet vertically or horizontally or both. Even paintings on the wall are at risk. How can I decorate my apartment in a cat-safe way, so that I don’t feel like I’m living in a prison cell?

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For some reason the cats didn’t move the entire time I was taking these pictures… note that the futon is super dumpy and we have really bad lighting because the cats eat lamp chords and also knock over the lamps so that the light bulbs break…

Thanks for any suggestions. My husband is no help, he’s content to just put all our belongings in various closets and lock all the doors so the cats can’t get into anything, which isn’t doing much for the feng shui or whatever.

Also there’s cat hair everywhere,

First things first: Emily is clearly awesome. And her stories about Maurice and Cale made me think of these bad cats:

Now that we have that out of the way we can move on to the part where we actually help her! I’ve definitely had my fair share of cats in the home so I feel her pain. Here are some ideas for how to make your space more cat friendly without putting everything you own in a closet — or putting your cats in a closet and keeping your belongings in the appropriate rooms.  Have you tried these things?

  • Please hang art on your walls!  Make sure they’re framed behind glass so the kitties don’t destroy the photos/whatever.  If they like knocking them around then get some double-sided tape or sticky putty to put on the bottom corners to keep them held tight against the wall.  That way curious kitties can’t knock them off kilter or off the wall entirely.
  • Get those cords in check! Get a cable zipper or something similar to keep all your cords bundled together.  This will make your cords boring and the cats will stay away.  If you have a lone cord hanging out, like a table lamp cord, use something to tack it down with.  You can use double-sided (or regular) tape to run it along a table leg, for example, then tape it down to the floor all the way to the outlet.
  • If you have furniture you like and don’t want to get new stuff, then keep a pretty bed sheet over your furniture when you’re not home.  Then when you want to sit down you can fold the seat side up onto the back.  You’re sitting down and you aren’t covered in hair — magic!  And then when company comes over you can quickly fold the sheet up entirely and put it away.  “What?  You have cats?  I had no idea because there’s no cat hair anywhere!”
  • If you don’t have furniture you like then buy something ugly with a good frame/shape on Craigslist and have it reupholstered or slipcovered in indoor/outdoor fabric.  There are tons of awesome options that still feel soft, but you can literally just wipe your couch cushions down with a damp rag and the dirt and hair is gone. Magic!
  • Curb the scratching! There are a few things you can do to accomplish this. Clip their nails regularly or have a groomer near you do it. Also, put out a cardboard cat scratching thingy next to your couch/their favorite piece of furniture to destroy. Additionally, you can spray the cat pheromone stuff on things they like to scratch.  That usually keeps them away.
  • Plants are tricky.  If you don’t like your cats I can recommend some poisonous plants that will solve your cat problem in about a week. (Please direct all hate mail through the submissions form.)  If you do like your cats then you can try rubbing nasty things on the leaves.  This will be trial and error, but that Bitter Apple stuff they sell in pet stores usually works well.

As for the actual space plan, I think that once you get things under control with those naughty kitties, put up some art/photos, and get some pieces of furniture that you actually like, everything will fall into place.  I like the location of the couch and bistro table — maybe just move the piano over so it’s directly across from the couch and put chairs on either side. (I didn’t see a TV in the photos so I assume you don’t have one. But if it’s in the closet then that should go across from the couch instead of the piano.) Sometimes pushing things into corners makes rooms look smaller. Weird, but true.

How about the rest of you readers out there? Anyone have more suggestions for Emily? Anyone have questions for me? I hope to get more submissions from readers soon!

2 thoughts on “{Reader Submission} Cat-Proof Design

  1. Martha says:

    Good thing I had that naughty, trouble making cat when I lived with you…I’m glad to see she helped you come up with awesome cat-proof design tips, because she wasn’t good for much else! :) I’ll have to send you photos so you can dog proof design my house (like, the dog likes to get on the couch and put her front feet on the coffee table…”no dogs on the table!” is a common phrase in my house)! Miss you!!

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