Katz Tales: Making an indoor cat happy with cat trees

Cats walk on the ground but, in the wild, they tend to spend a lot of times climbing trees and rocks.

Our living room has been transformed. We have two new floor-to-ceiling cat scratch poles and the window is covered in black screening. The changes are in honour of our newest family member, Tic Tac.

It's not unusual for us to make changes in order to accommodate our furry lodgers. The massive pillow in our bed was mandated by Target who likes to stretch out, and the small purple rug in Tom's office and the cardboard box under the bench are there because Swooner has a fondness for them.

But this is the first time that we've bought actual cat furniture designed for pets. Between you and me, it surprises me a little.

They refuse to acknowledge the cat hammock we were gifted with and the water fountain had to be rehomed as well. The only toys that our cats approve of are feather dusters, ping pong balls and cardboard boxes.

Still, a few weeks ago we were visiting a friend who has the most magnificent cat condo. It was so scratched and bashed that it was clearly a much-loved possession. And that got us thinking.

Tic Tac has a new climbing pole. Photo: Ellen WhyteTic Tac has a new climbing pole. Photo: Ellen WhyteOur cats have always been in-and-out cats, meaning that they go for walks but have their own spot on the sofa and in our bed. But Tic Tac is an indoor kitty.

Tic Tac has white fur, huge blue eyes and massive ears. It's as if Disney designed her. She so pretty that people are captivated by her instantly. In fact, when Tic Tac plays on the roof, passers by on the street will stop and gawk at her.

When they call up and admire her, our girl preens and meows. The way she smiles and waves her tail, I'm pretty sure she's channelling Bastet, the Egyptian cat goddess, and bestowing blessings on her admirers.

Anyway, although we have lovely neighbours, we're aware that not everyone is kind. Our concern is that someone will steal pretty little Tic Tac, either thinking they can breed from her or to sell her. So, we're keeping her indoors where she's safe.

But as cats are really wild animals who have chosen to live with us, Tic Tac has needs that need to be accommodated. Two of the most important are clawing and climbing.

Cats walk on the ground but, in the wild, they tend to spend a lot of times climbing trees and rocks. They sometimes jump their prey rather than run it down. Also, they like to be above enemies like dogs. As for clawing, that's is a super instinctive habit that is just part of being a cat.

We have bookshelves she can climb and there are toys for her to scratch but they're for kittens and not really ideal for growing cats. So we looked at the cat condo and wondered if she'd like one.

Shopping around, we saw all kinds of shapes and sizes. There are cat condos made of wood and carpet, and with bits of rope and small boxes they can sit inside.

But the more we looked, the more troubled we were. It was our opinion that many appeared to be designed to be interesting to the human eye, rather than made for a cat's pleasure. Therefore, we made a list of what we thought Tic Tac would like.

We wanted a tall pole that was like a tree. The taller the better. It needed to be scratchable as well. Also, it needed "branches" or mini shelves where she could sit and look down on us. If possible, there should be several shelves so that she could invite her brothers to play battle games with her.

The pet shops in our area didn't have much but we went online and found exactly what we were looking for: a 3m pole that was covered in sisal, a type of rope that kitties love to claw. It also came with three shelves.

We bought two instantly.

Putting up the first one was a snap. However, the second pole wasn't in good shape and had some bits missing. Also, while the poles were designed to slot firmly between floor and ceiling, we found they were prone to falling. Luckily, we have an excellent local handyman.

With Kelvin's help, we repaired the problem pole. Then we fixed them both solidly to the walls. One is set by the window so that Tic Tac can climb up high and overlook the tree outside. The other is on the far wall. She can climb straight up it, shortcutting her way to the top of the stairs.

When she saw the cat trees, she squealed with delight. A second later, she took a running leap and began clawing her way up like a furry little lumberjack.

Thankfully, Swooner and Target are fans, too. Swooner likes to sit on the shelves and play battle cat with his little sister while Target races up the stairs, trying to beat her whipping up the pole. Both boys are also scratching the sisal, which gives me renewed hope that the sofa may finally catch a break.

Then, as a final hurrah, we covered the window with closed mesh. So now we can open it again and get a fresh breeze without Tic Tac running outside.

We don’t often do home projects but this one has proven to be an unqualified success, earning thumbs up from the bipeds and paws up from the fuzzies. In a word, pawsome!

Adopt Me

Zemu is about two months old. This adorable and playful girl is ideally suited as a home companion. She's sociable and gets along very well with other cats and humans. If you can give her a loving home, please WhatsApp Serene (012-7142514) in Johor Baru.

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