by Crisia Tabacaru
As a loving cat parent, no doubt you’re already providing food, water and a warm home for your feline friend, but, just like you need more than the necessities to keep you at your best, your kitties will be happier and healthier if you understand their instincts, behaviours, and what will make them feel safe and content.
Let’s look at it from a biological perspective: Cats come from wild species that are both predators and prey, and many of their instinctive behaviours stem from this history. For instance, you’ve likely noticed that your kitties like to be high up, which helps them to both observe and feel safe. Providing such spaces in your home means that you’ll have a happier, less aggressive kitty, with fewer behavioural issues in general. For multiple cat households, increased vertical space will also help with stress related to territorial issues.
Many cat parents meet these needs with store-bought cat trees, hammocks or cat walks. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a cat tree, but a home-made one can be a very fulfilling project for both you and your kitty, not to mention a money-saver. In fact, one of our Zoe’s adopters built one for their kitty Neelix (Zoe’s alum, formerly Tator) and he loves his new cat tree!
This is one of my favourites. The instructions are very clear and it won’t cramp your style either. Seriously, check out those gorgeous branches!
You can also take the scratching post approach and provide a climbing workout like this easy-to-follow project. Another way to give your cat observation powers is to provide cat shelves like this crafty cat owner did. The only limit is your imagination! (And maybe your handiness with tools…)
The next need to consider is mental stimulation and engagement. Boredom from a lack of environmental enrichment is often accompanied by stress and “bad” behaviours like urine marking and aggression. Increasing complexity in their environment is a way to engage cats and provide much needed mental stimulation. One way to do this is to create physical structures with attached toys and other complexities for them to play with, sleep on, scratch, and explore. This one uses readily available Ikea furniture and is attractive to boot.
Get inspired by these DIYs and let your imagination run wild!
- Cat trees using cardboard tubes, like this one
- Cat trees using PVC pipes, like this one
- Sleeping tents, like this one
- Cat condos, like this one
- Climbing walls, like this one
- Cardboard playhouses, like this one
- Window perches, like this one
- Puzzles, like this one
- Self-petting stations, like this one
- Toys, like this one
Bonus: Geeky DIY cat projects
These projects are just so deliciously geeky, that I couldn’t resist!