Quite often the interior design of your homes is not really cat-friendly. As a consequence cats feel uncomfortable and may even develop behavioural problems. The idea of Catification focuses on the natural needs of cats and includes them in the creation of the interior design of a home. It is like considering kitty as a co-customer of the interior designer.
The concept of Catification has been developed by the American author and cat behavioural trainer Jackson Galaxy for creating cat-friendly homes.
Natural needs of cats in their territory:
Every cat has its own territory. This is the apartment or – in case that the cat can leave the house -, it extends to the surrounding areas. The cat controls the territory regularly and marks it by scratching, rubbing it’s head (or even urinating in the case of unneutered male cats).
The centre of the territory (the base camp) is located in the area of the apartment where the cat feels most secure and where it retires to be alone or sleep quietly. From the base camp new cats will start to conquer the new home as well.
The cat marks its territory by using signposts and scent soakers. Signpost are objects that signify territory ownership because they are marked by the cat, e.g. scratch-posts, cat-beds, litter boxes. Scent soakers are made of material that absorbs the cat´s scent which it leaves by rubbing or scratching. These can be blankets, pads, smooth toys etc. Signposts and scent soakers show a cat´s ownership of the area. This is kittie´s territory! (according to Jackson Galaxy)
In places with more than 2 cats the cats divide and share the territory. Nevertheless, each cat has its own signpost and scent soakers, although they might share them with others (e.g. scratch-post or cat-bed).
A Cat´s gotta do what a cat´s gotta do: Organizing Kittie´s working day
A content and happy cat is self-confident, it feels secure in its territory. It has its cat-jobs to do, which means it does cat things: Hunt, chase, kill the prey, eat, groom and sleep a lot (Jackson Galaxy calls it Catmojo). As the territory designer the human should offer them possibilities to follow up on these activities to have meaning in their life.
In the wild cats are both hunters and prey as well. This sandwiched position in the food chain explains their behaviour. They love high posts from where they can survey their prey but be safe at the same time. They hunt alone and therefore depend on their personal integrity. Before they risk being severely injured in a fight, they try to escape (flight or fight). Apart from fights for females in heat – this is another topic. Designing a cat-friendly home we utterly need to think about secure places to hide.
How to create a cat-friendly home?
To make our cats happy we have to respect their needs for a territory with safe sleeping places, possibilities to play and hunt, scratch-furniture, to mark and communicate in the territory. The base-camp, centre of the territory, should be close to the family life (the laundry area is not really a good solution). The cat should be comfortable close and together with the human and there is a scent of humans in the base camp as well.
A typical issue is scratching on the sofa. Cats and Hoomans enjoy time together on the sofa. By scratching at the corner the cat is telling us how happy it is on the sofa and that it loves to be there with its Hooman …. This is quite normal behaviour. It is our challenge to offer a scratching alternative to draw the scratching attention to a scratch post beside the sofa.
Cats have to feel secure in the base camp, here they retire (cocooning). This means retiring but not hiding. In the worst case scenario the human must be able to access the cat (for example, to take them to the vet). A hiding cat (caving) under the sofa, bed, closet feels insecure and stressed. Nice places for cocooning in the base camp are baskets or cat-caves which are located close to family life.
Higher cat-shelfs, high cat-trees and access to the top of the library or closet are considered secure places for the cat so that they can follow their natural behaviour. They are places to retire, a good panorama spot and even part of the daily fitness program. By designing a cat-friendly place the third dimension opens up a lot of alternatives and little modifications are often already sufficient, such as small boards to climb up the wall or steps.
Playtime with cat and their toys are important for living together of cat and Hooman. Cats are quite self-sufficient when they have some toys and even in places with more than one cat the tigers can enjoy each other. Nevertheless, cats are happy to spend time with and do activities with their Hooman. There are multiple games and toys in the market. They should encourage the Kitties natural hunting instincts.
Pure domestic cats love the street -view with all the activities outside. If your window has windowsills you have already the perfect spot for the cat, even more so when there is heating underneath, with a pillow or cat-bed this is their TV area. There are even boards on the market which can be fixed onto the window.
Catify to Satisfy: Jackson Galaxy, Kate Benjamin, New York 2015 ISBN 978-0-399-17699-9