Strengthening the cat territory: how to build an at-home highway for your kitties?

FabCatstic interiors? To build up your kitty’s self confidence and care for their well being, it’s worth taking a look around, checking how we organise the space around the house and assessing how much territory is available to our domestic tigers. It’s no news that from the cat’s perspective, vertical space is just as important as the floor plan of the house. A happy cat is able to use not only the ground, but also all the window sills, shelves, chairs, bookcases, cardboard houses, vertical and horizontal scratchers, all serving as observation points from which cats can monitor the action without getting involved. Why is a cat highway so important and how to build it without ruining your interior design? 

How do cats use the space of your house?

Cats, contrary to humans or dogs, don’t limit how they view the space only to the ground level. The size of our flats and houses is more than just a floor covered with furniture. With a natural instinct to climb and observe the world from above, cats can utilise almost any surface of the house if we only let them do so. They feel the most comfortable having access to both horizontal and vertical space. Beside the floor, which they have to share with humans, kids and other animals, they happily use high shelves, scratchers and cardboard towers with a perfect view of the house and the world outside. 

As the catification master, Jackson Galaxy, and many other cat behaviourists say, cats should have the option to move freely around the house without getting in the way of everyone else. It’s especially important if there’s always something going on in the house and the cat will feel more easily by observing the action from above rather than getting engaged. Among cats, there are the ground dwellers who feel much better being close to the floor, as well as tree dwellers who’d prefer to stay high up above the ground at all times. Providing all cats with access to all surfaces will give them the ability to choose where they feel the most comfortable. 

What is a cat highway?

The idea of a cat highway was coined by Jackson Galaxy and has been mentioned in all his books and TV shows. As he describes it in the cat Cared bible “Cat Mojo”, the cat superhighway allows for a smooth flow of traffic and grants cats full access to the vertical world, allowing them to move around the room without having to touch the floor. A well constructed cat highway should have at least a couple entry and exit points, allow to move around most of the room/house and don’t have any dead ends, especially if there’s more than one cat in the house. How to do it in real life? 

No worries, you don’t need to get your fabCatstic woodworker hat on and build an actual, wooden shelf that goes around your entire house. We know that not everyone can afford that (or be able to mount it on the walls) and not everyone will love the aesthetics of it all either. A cat highway can be built up without complicated projects and mounting challenges: high scratchers, chairs, shelves, horizontal scratchers set up by the sofa, the armchair or lower cabinets, as well as the back of the sofa or a bookshelf can all become a part of the highway. By setting them up wisely you can provide your cat with a way to escape the floor level, but also give them a place to play and stretch. Jumping from one shelf to another, to a sofa, a scratcher or a cardboard house can be a great part of their daily training and a way to encourage some activity among the lazy individuals. 

Cat siblings and furry singletons: the cat highway for whom? 

Most cat Carers will consider getting a cat highway when they introduce another cat, a dog, other animals or a hooman baby to the house. The highway is there to allow the cat an escape from the floor level and let them observe the territory from above. However, the idea of a cat highway can be beneficial to cat singletons as well – as we mentioned before, it’s a great way to introduce some activity and fun into your kitties daily life. 

Number of cats in your house has a lot of impact on how you design your cat highway: if there’s more than one or two, the vertical space is more than likely to be used as an escape route and a playground. For the safety of our pets, the shelves should be wide and sturdy enough and there should be enough observation points for the fluffs not to argue about the best seat in the house. Also, there’s still the matter of entry points – a cat highway should allow the kitties to get on and off the “road” at at least a few key points of the house and, if they were to escape from the others, don’t let them get stuck on a one-way street. 

Why should we think about a cat-friendly interior design? 

It’s true: a cat doesn’t need a ton of space and can, with no issue, adjust to living in a small flat. The lack of a vast territory can be, however, balanced out with a smart use of the space available: try different scratchers, hides (like a cardboard house) and cat beds, find a great space for the litter box, set a quiet breakfast nook and use not only the floors, but the walls as well. Cats are born to climb – they love observing the world from above! 

Making the cat highway, you’re allowing your kitties to:

  • feel comfortable when they share the space with other housemates, 
  • don’t risk meetings at clash zones that make it hard to access the key spots of the house without squeezing through or fighting for a spot,
  • don’t feel the need to hide from any threats – by using the vertical space they can safely watch the action, staying away from anyone’s reach. 

Of course, whenever you’re designing a cat highway, it’s good to remember about some safety rules. Never mount the shelves so high up and unreachable that you won’t be able to get to your cat in a rush situation. Just as it is with cat hideouts, we’re aiming for both cat comfort and well being. A Carer should always have access to the cat in case of an emergency vet visit or a need to evacuate the building. 

Now you, dear fabCats: do you have a cat highway in your homes? Are your furry, fluffy friends using any opportunity to climb high up, or are they more of a ground dwellers, staying mostly in their cosy MIA cat houses or horizontal VIGO, LUI and TOBI scratchers? Be sure to share with us your best projects and ideas on how to organise the space in a pawsome house. It’s springtime, the time of general clean-outs, so any interior inspirations are more than welcome! 

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