...because home doesn't happen overnight.

So we got a cat. And there’s a burning question that keeps coming up: WHERE DO YOU KEEP THE LITTER BOX?

cat paraphernalia - litter box

Next to the dryer, naturally. I chose the spot on a whim when we brought Cheetah home but it’s actually kinda perfect. It’s out of the way and the tile hides stray litter and allows for easy cleanup. For the first few days, I kept the curtain open so Cheetah could maneuver in and out easily. Recently, I started closing it almost all the way. Cheetah can get to the litter box but we don’t have to see it 24/7. It’s pretty inconspicuous.

We have this litter box. It’s nothing fancy. (Don’t tell my nine-year-old there are automatic litter boxes. Next thing you know, one will be on his Christmas list and then how will he ever learn the discipline of scooping cat poop? #lifeskills) But it fits the small space and, more importantly, it works. The litter mat is here. It helps to catch stray litter.

You may recall a rolling cart used to live next to the dryer. I moved it to a linen closet to make room for the litter box. NBD. (I also stash the catnip, lint rollers, Frontline and cat brush in the linen closet.) I’m able to keep a drying rack and our small ironing board next to the dryer. Cheetah doesn’t seem to mind. She is a domestic cat after all. I hope she takes up ironing soon.

cat paraphernalia - food  water

The food and water bowl is under the bench on the other side of the mudroom. Again, the tile is super easy to wipe down. The bowl has non-slip feet so it doesn’t slide around on the tile.

cat paraphernalia - storage

I store cat food and litter in the wardrobe next to the bench. I was advised to purchase this cat food and this litter. Apparently, cats can have issues with grains? Since I have no experience with cats whatsoever, I can’t really attest to how good these are. And after I bought the walnut-based litter I realized that anyone with a serious tree nut allergy can’t enter our home. (Luckily, we don’t know anyone with a tree nut allergy but who’s to say we never will?) But Cheetah is alive and we haven’t had any issues with odors so I’m not complaining. One of my biggest qualms with potentially owning a cat was the smell. So far, we haven’t had any odor issues. Fingers crossed we can keep it that way.

cat paraphernalia - stand

For the first two days, Cheetah mostly slept. I think she was traumatized. Or she was pretending to be a in bad dream where a toddler follows her every move. Then on day 3 she suddenly perked up and started scratching the sisal rug in the entry and climbing the screens on the french doors in the kitchen. (!) This sparked an intense “why is my cat scratching / climbing?” google search. (I told you I was oblivious.) Apparently, Cheetah needs to scratch / climb and I need to provide appropriate items for her to scratch / climb or she will find some herself. In desperation, I snatched up the least offensive cat stand I could find at my local pet store. I AM THAT LADY. I know I could make one just as good (if not better) but, again, the desperation. Quick! Before all the window screens are torn to shreds!

The bones are there. I figure I can tweak it when it starts looking even more hideous. Whatever. Cheetah loves it. When I catch her scratching / climbing something I don’t necessarily want her to scratch / climb, I pick her up and place her on the stand. Sometimes I spray it with a little catnip solution. Watch out! Psychedelic cat! Luckily, she hasn’t damaged anything but I don’t trust her 100%. We’re a work in progress over here.

(Also, this picture has me itching to paint those french doors a glossy black like the ones in the kitchen.)

cat paraphernalia - lounger

To redeem myself of the Carpet Tree purchase, I found this cardboard lounger. I actually love it and so does Cheetah. She scratches it and also sleeps on it. I like that it slips under the living room shelves and doesn’t take up a ton of space. The world needs more pet paraphernalia like this.

cat paraphernalia - fiddle leaf fig

There seems to be some controversy about cats and fiddle leaf figs. I’ve heard and read that FLF’s are and are not toxic to cats. Cheetah hasn’t paid much attention to the tree so far but I did rig it with some frightening cooling racks to discourage her. I AM THAT LADY, TOO. If I have to choose, I’ll find a new home for the tree – not the cat. (Which should tell you something about my feelings toward this kitten because I heart that tree so hard.)

cat paraphernalia - leather sofa

I can count on three fingers the number of times Cheetah has slept on the leather sofa. Just today, I caught her pawing at it (no damage was done) and I quickly sprayed some water her way. The spray didn’t touch her but it was enough to grab her attention. I set the spray bottle on the speaker box next to the sofa for the rest of the day and its presence was enough to keep her at bay. I’ll have to update you on the sofa’s condition in a few months. To be continued…

In general, I’m either freaking out about the cat or completely ignorant. I think it’s a good balance ;) I don’t expect perfection. I made no d├ęcor choices based on cat behavior so I can’t fret if something gets scratched. As much as I love creating a stylish home, I want it to be livable for our family – which now includes a cat. If we can’t live in it, what’s the point? That being said, I’m making every effort to teach Cheetah which items are (not) okay to scratch / climb. Fortunately, she seems to be catching on.

I titled this post “Phase 1” because I fully anticipate different or more cat paraphernalia entering our home. Things just got verrrrrry interesting over here, didn’t they? I shared the items we already have not as recommendations per se (although I really do love that cardboard lounger and the food bowl) but so you could see what we’re starting with and offer up any tips or advice. After reading all the wonderful comments on the previous post, I watched a video on how to clip cats’ claws at home and bought some trimmers. I AM ALSO THAT LADY. I can’t say I’m excited to cut Cheetah’s claws but we’ll figure it out.

If you made it this far and you’re a cat person, I hope you find my antics humorous and have wise words to share. Like, where does your cat sleep at night? Cheetah picks a different spot every night. Is this normal? If you’re not a cat person (like I was two weeks ago), I’m sorry and I hope you don’t think I’m too crazy. Also, I hope a snuggly kitten weasels its way into your life.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

130 Comments

19.September.2014

I’ve had great success with both of my kitties using double sided tape on furniture that they’ve taken a liking to scratch. For a while they loved the side of my sofa so I spread some double sided tape all along the side and they stopped! I took the tape off a while ago and no further issues!

Love all of the paraphernalia you got! My kitties also adore the cardboard lounge. If you want to really spoil her get one of those circulating filter water bowls. It provides fresh water that isn’t stagnant – both if my cats love it!

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19.September.2014

What a cutie cheetah is! That cat food is really good! It also works out cheaper in the long run with buying more expensive food. There shouldn’t be a problem with odor if the litter box is scooped regularly. I have 2 cats & live in an apartment so I do it daily! Adding some baking soda to the litter helps a lot too! Arm & Hammer have a litter box deoderiser which is pretty good & cheap. As for scratching you can buy double sided tape at pet stores, it doesn’t damage fabrics! You stick it where they scratch and they don’t like the sticky feeling on their paws. Tin foil/aluminium foil creeps them out too so that can be used to stop them getting up on places where they shouldn’t :) good luck & enjoy the kitty!

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19.September.2014

That’s all so great! Cheetah will settle into more of a routine sleeping space wise, she’s just trying out every single spot before she decides. As far as protecting your belongings, I’ve learned to leave some carefully planned empty space on all surfaces (like your gorgeous living room shelves). She’ll eventually want to explore all the way to the top, if you create the pathway you can prevent a mess later. Also, QUAKE museum putty, so awesome for keeping breakables in one place and one piece..

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19.September.2014

Well done! I totally agree about the lac of stylish cat paraphernalia… I have two domestic cats and one big dog. And one scratched sofa… With our last cat we actually bought a small, round sisal mat just for the cat, and she totally loved it. This was instead of a scratch tree (is that the name?) and so much more stylish! We are actually looking for a new one for our present cats because that sofa badly needs to be changed…

Anyhow, you are doing a great jobt! Cats might be the easiest pets to attend to, the only thing that they can be a bit fussy about is the food. We always give them a combination of wet and dry food. The dry food are out all day, but the wet food are being served to them at the same time as the dog gets his grub. With a dry food only diet you need to make sure that Cheetah drinks a good amount of water. If she is fussy about the water bowl, try the tap. Yes, we have one of those cats at home ;)

Hugs from Sweden!

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replied on September 19th, 2014

I was going to bring up the same thing about the water! My cat will only drink from a cup of fresh water by the sink. Strange, I know. A little electronic water fountain is a good option, too – I just don’t have an outlet that close to any of the floors in my house!

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replied on September 19th, 2014

I have to check out that electronic option! Our cats are actually using the tap for the sink in the laundry room, so yes they are allowed up on that bench :)

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19.September.2014

This is why you have an awesome home design blog and I do not. I thought those cardboard loungers looked hideous all packaged up in the store – but you’ve got the eye! It looks great!

If you decide to try any other litters, check out pine pellets. After years of various litters, inhaling clay dust, and annoying automatic litter boxes, I landed on the pellets. It smells fantastic and there is zero tracking since it’s too big to stick to paws. The pellets gradually break apart as they absorb liquid. You just scoop out the poop and give the box a good stir. Twice a week I sift out the sawdust, keep the remaining whole pellets, and add in some new ones.

But the real secret about the pellets cat litter is that they are actually the same as horse bedding pine pellets sold at farm supply stores for about $6 for 40lbs.. The horse bedding pellets are slightly larger in diameter than a few of the cat pellet brands, which also makes it easier to sift.

Love the booby trapped plant! I’m sure you will see how effectively she can spring straight- up, two feet in the air when she knocks that rack over.:)

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replied on September 19th, 2014

LL you might have just saved me. I have tried everything over the years and have never found a cat litter I like. I have an extremely sensitive nose and cannot stand fragrances added to standard clumping litter but the other litters like yesterday’s news, which I really liked but ended up being impossible to scoop so I had to throw it all out every week and the smell was not so great either. I’m totally trying the pine pellets! I hadn’t seen those!

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replied on September 19th, 2014

I really like the pine pellets too. They don’t do much for poop smells but I always just scoop that right away. But there’s no urine smell, ever. And it’s dirt cheap.

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19.September.2014

Dana you need a new category for the blog – Pet stuff or something similar…I was laughing when I saw how you categorized the kitten post in ‘Budget Decor’ :)

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19.September.2014

Hi Dana, I love your blog, house and cute family. It all just got better with the addition of Cheetah, she is so beautiful! I am a huge cat lover and have 3 fur babies myself.
My cats have several places they sleep,it changes on an almost daily basis which sometimes makes it tricky to find them, I like knowing where they are before I go to bed.They need a goodnight kiss. (Okay I need to give them a good night kiss).

All the best to the whole family.

Ana

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19.September.2014

She is absolutely divine. I have 2 cats and I trim their nails and I totally recommend it as they don’t scratch anywhere near as much when I do. I think your family has basically just expanded which is a real joy, but the shedding does my head in so much that my next pet will be a poodle something that does not shed :) I also have a leather sofa and neither of them have ever looked at it as a scratching post(too busy sleeping on it). I have a theory that it has something to do with the sofas low legs. They can’t get under it, so they just haven’t thought about it – they can get under the arm chairs and give them grief.

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19.September.2014

Don’t worry, you can just give the fig tree to me :)

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19.September.2014

She’s adorable! Cats are such easy and fun pets to have! I’ve had cats my whole life and would reccomend a litter box with a cover that basically creates a box with a hole in front for her to go in and out. As she gets older, she might bury things more “enthusiastically” and the lid will keep most of that in the box instead of on your walls, dryer, and floors! We also use blue buffalo food for my dog and love it! Good luck!!

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replied on September 20th, 2014

Except that I feel like a covered litter box is like humans having to use a porta potty. :( No thanks.

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19.September.2014

Get Soft Paws for her. Pretty much any vet can put them on her, or you can. They’re like fake nails for cats and will keep her from doing damage when she scratches at things.

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19.September.2014

This actually convinced me not to get a cat! I forgot about all the details, like litter boxes, and scratching posts. My husband thanks you!

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19.September.2014

Cheetah is so photogenic! My cat (Norman) always refuses to look at the camera when I whip it out. Therefore all of his pictures are from when he is sleeping;) I’m sure Cheetah will eventually figure out where she wants to sleep at night. Mine sleeps in bed with me – he usually starts out cuddled into my chest and around my arm (his pillow), but then he eventually moves down to my feet. I bought a new couch recently and that is the first time he’s ever tried to scratch anything I own – I assume the newness made it appealing – but I used the water bottle trick and that seems to work great! I wish he liked scratching posts and such, but I’ve wasted money over the years on cardboard that he’s never touched. However, open a box from a new outdoor patio set and he will live in it (in the garage) like a fort! He also loves to knead…there is one throw blanket on the couch that I refer to as his blanket. I pull that out and he is all over it! Cat’s can be quirky, but oh so loveable;)

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19.September.2014

I’m going to second the recommendation to get a cover for the litter box or one that she can jump in from the top. Our cats started kicking more litter out as they got older.

We have leather chairs, and keeping the names trimmed, especially those back nails, is so important for preventing damage. I’d recommend trimming every week, especially at the beginning. She might not like it at first, but she’ll learn to sit still for the trimming sessions. We currently have three permanent resident cats (which is about two too many) and three rescued foster kittens, so I’m trimming lots of cat nails every week!

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19.September.2014

Our kitty was a stray and even though I grew up with cats, I didn’t want one at the time. She turned out to be the perfect cat for us. You can train a cat. We trained her to not jump up on counters. She know which chairs she can sleep on and which ones to stay off of (like the leather ones). I really liked (and so did she) the card board scratchers. However, I got tired of cleaning up 5 billion pieces of paper everyday when she was tearing it to shreds. It didn’t happen overnight, but it will. So I bought a sisal rug covered scratcher (Pet Smart) and its been great. One of the best cat toys ever, is just a plastic grocery bag tied into a tighted knotted ball. It’s light enough to bat around and they love the crinkle sound! Give it a try!

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19.September.2014

If you are against declawing you should look into soft paw nail covers they work pretty good and are also cute. We just got a new kitten not long ago as well, and we just got him declawed, and it has been wonderful. No more scratching and climbing my furniture, and no more scratching my baby! I no that decline can be controversial, but it was the right choice for our family.

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replied on September 19th, 2014

I’m so glad someone finally mentioned declawing – That is the best option (especially if done while she’s relatively young) to save all furniture & human skin from potiental kitty-claw-incidents; declaw the front & clip the back – that way if were to ever slip outside by accident, she’ll still have traction in case of “emergencies” to get away from danger. That was always the best solution for us… but they will still mimic the clawing action… which, to me, is cute.
Getting kitties declawed also spares you pants & skirts from claw picks when they’re doing their contented “paw-kneeding” action; no more pain = all pleasure! (so yeah, I’m a cat person…)

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replied on September 19th, 2014

Declawing a cat is like removing the first knuckle on human fingers – it’s amputation. It’s traumatizing and totally unnecessary, and often results in a total change in the cat’s personality. Regular trimming and training your cat when young is simple and humane.

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replied on September 19th, 2014

I totally agree with Jessica. Declawing is inhumane. Train and trim or Soft Paw it. We Soft Pawed it through the kitten phase until good scratching habits were established and now my cat is well mannered and ALL furniture is damage free!

replied on September 19th, 2014

Hearing about all the successful training / trimming / Soft Paw stories is so encouraging! I would like to keep Cheetah and my furniture ;) Trying out Soft Paws while teaching good habits sounds like a good idea. Thank you.

replied on September 22nd, 2014

I agree with Jessica and Stephanie — respectfully, please do not declaw. I know some people do this with the very best of intentions, but it really is a cruel procedure that can leave the cat in chronic pain for many years (or in some cases, from what I’ve heard, a lifetime). My aunt is a huge “cat person” and made the decision to get one of her kitties declawed, and said she later regretted it deeply. The kitty was never the same after and walked differently due to the chronic pain.

To be honest, leather couches can be tough with cats (my parents have leather furniture and have always had cats) but it’s possible. My husband and I now just avoid leather furniture just in case (only because it’d be easy to get a cat snag even accidentally), which is worth it for us. But, to protect the great-looking couch that you have, trimming the nails will help a ton as will training with a spray bottle as needed.

It sounds like you’re doing a wonderful job with Cheetah! She’s a lucky kitty. And you’re a lucky family to have found her. :-)

replied on September 19th, 2014

We de-clawed our cat Lily’s front paws and left the back claws it did not change her personality however it saved our sanity and likely hers. We worked with a great vet who walked us through the process and we discussed pros and cons. We love our cat but we also love our home and I saw the damage cats can do to furniture and I didn’t want to be stressed about the damage. We both work outside of the home during the day so couldn’t work with her daily to create good habits, you need to do what is right for your family.

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replied on September 20th, 2014

It is now illegal to declaw in California and a lot of vets won’t do it. Also, cats that are declawed tend to have more little box issues. The best littler box for us was a large tote from target that we cut a larger rectangular hole in to. It has higher sides to prevent little issues but still low enough for the 10 year old to clean. That is a great chore item for kids. :)

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replied on September 19th, 2014

Please, anyone and everyone, reconsider declawing….it’s definitely a last resort, desperate option….and, if, God forbid, you go that way, please get the best vet possible to do this major surgery.

Re litter and boxes – if Cheetah is happy with that box….yay!!! If there are any accidents, you might want to read up on cat behavior for box location suggestions and litter thoughts. Many cats hate having a box next to a washer/dryer/furnace. Nothing like peeing and having some machine roar to life next to you.

Most cat behaviorists will recommend one open box per cat, plus one (with the boxes in separate areas). Also, to scoop twice daily, ideally. At least daily, though. It’s also a great way to monitor health – if things change, you can describe those changes to the vet. One thing….if she ever seems to go to the box frequently and be unable to pee, call the vet (or e-vet) IMMEDIATELY. While more common in males, blockages can occur and it’s no time for waiting around. Get thee to the vet right away. Seriously – any good vet will make room for an immediate appointment in case of blockage. Make sure your vet tells you who the emergency vet contact is. Also, might want to look into pet insurance while she’s young.

I have great luck with the Dr. Elsey line of litter (the Cat Attract can be a godsend with some box issues). Of course, the first action if a cat has accidents is a vet visit to make sure there are no physical reasons.

And, I’m sure you’ve established a relationship with a local vet already. For some reason, people take dogs in for physicals far more than cats, but it’s really good to have at least an annual check up for younger cats, going to twice a year when they hit their senior years.

Cat fountains are great….I have a Drinkwell stainless 360 still going strong for two cats for over three years. And you can get an ‘after-market’ charcoal filter on Amazon that is very economical.

And, there are lots of books on cat behavior and health – your library probably has quite a few, as well as carrying the Cat Fancy magazine, and of course, Amazon has everything.

Also, please please please do not ever leave strings, rubber bands, yarn, etc. out and unattended. Cats can often swallow such items and it can lead to major health issues, surgery, or death.

Good luck, she’s beautiful and a great addition to your family.

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19.September.2014

I agree with the comment about Soft Paws. They saved our furniture/rugs. Start using them now while your cat is young though. Our young cat did just fine with them but our older cat was much more grumpy about having them put on and wearing them, I think because he had lived half his life without wearing them. They are fairly easy to put on the cat and come in fun colors. My kids like to coordinate the claw covers with each holiday. Also buy some Nature’s Miracle just to have on hand. It is the best thing I have found for neutralizing urine odors. Even if you are lucky and don’t have to deal with behavioral pee-outside-the-box issues, cats will often pee outside their box if they are sick or hurt as a way of letting you know there is a problem. I like to keep some Nature’s Miracle on hand just in case. Incidentally it also works well for cleaning up after potty training toddlers.

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19.September.2014

Hi Dana,

Such a beautiful cat! It’s so funny to read about other cat “converts.” I was also a “dog person” until my 5 year old asked for only 1 thing from Santa……a cat. She asked Santa because she knew Mom and a Dad would never go for it. Needless to say, we have had a cat for several years and LOVE him. They are so affectionate and soothing, (most of the time). You will grow to love the purring…..:)

The cat tree is a great idea! We moved to a taller version (not exactly pretty though) because our cat loves higher spots. The water sprayer works great as well! No harm and pets need boundaries, too. You might look into “Soft paws.” I heard great things about them and wish I had started them at the kitten stage. Your daughter will get a kick out of them because they look like painted nails. In the long run, you may have trouble with that leather sofa. I have 2 leather recliners that have pin prick holes now. My cat never scratches it but when he jumps up there, his nails dig in. I do clip them but even clipped they aren’t exactly flat. In the end, we don’t care because he’s a family member. We’ll eventually replace them and throw blankets Provide an easy fix.

I have always used a basic litterbox as well. Mine is tucked away and if you keep it scooped every day, you’ll never smell it.

You might want to start thinking about “cat sitters” for your travel times. Cats do much better when they can stay in their own homes. We have someone come in every other day when we travel and our cat does great. He had a nightmare experience at a cat kennel once and stopped eating and drinking…..:(

FYI…..my sister went to College with you (Cara) and I love your blog. She told me about it awhile back and I’ve been hooked!

Take care!

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19.September.2014

Adorable cat! I could just cuddle it all day!
I really recommend Worlds Best Cat Litter. Corn and really safe natural around kids and pets. You can flush it down the toilet!

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19.September.2014

My kitty used to have all her claws. She only tore apart a really ugly chair that I didn’t like, so it was fine by me! When I had to move in with my parents for all of three months (we all thought it would be longer), they forced me to have her de-clawed. I wasn’t happy about it, but it was either that or get rid of her! Years later, Lluvy is doing just fine with only her back claws. She loves to spend her nights outside, but when she comes inside, she’s usually sleeping in a pile of laundry or next to my pillow on the bed.

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19.September.2014

I am a cat-like dog person. ha! So we have two furry shih tzus (Ed and Toby). Ed is a cat in dog’s fur. So we have the best of both worlds.

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replied on September 19th, 2014

It’s funny. Our first pet was a boxer (she passed away a few years ago) and we often talked about her cat-like tendencies. I swear Cheetah is half-dog so it hasn’t been too different than having a dog for us.

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19.September.2014

If you haven’t discovered it yet check out http://www.hauspanther.com/ There is a world of well designed cat furniture. I have a very cool cat tree from http://www.franklincatfurniture.com/ that I love and looks great!

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19.September.2014

This might sound crazy cat lady-ish, but there is a show called My Cat from Hell with Jackson Galaxy. It is basically a cat whisperer who goes into homes that have bad-behavior cats. We have a cat, but he doesn’t really have bad behavior, he just scratched one of our chairs a lot. There were a LOT of tips in that show about cat likes, dislikes, tips, tricks, and suggestions (on everything from litter boxes to toys). After watching and learning certain cats LOVE getting up high (ours does) so we built a 6′ tall cat tree wrapped with rope, has carpeted shelves, stained trim, and is pretty awesome. It takes up a bit of space, but the cat climbs up the tree now instead of the chair and he loves being able to look out the window from the high perch. We put some work into it so it doesn’t look like an eye sore in our home and it is by far our cat’s favorite thing.

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19.September.2014

I’m happy to hear about your kitten. I believe pets add a lot of warmth to a house, adding to the homey feel. Regarding the fig, I have had a fig tree for over 20 years (yes, the same plant and it’s over 8 ft tall!) and have had cats all that time. None of my cats have ever had issues from messing with it. If you find that she’s chewing on it, you can get an edible plant for her from a pet store and she should focus on that instead. The only problem we’ve ever had is digging in the soil of it. I just cover the top of the pot with plastic wrap to keep them out, then I just peel it back to water it.

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19.September.2014

I have pet sat for 10+ years and had a cat in my life all of my life. At the moment I live in an 800 sq foot house with a great dane and a tabby named Tommy. The best litter I have found- least offensive smell before use and during- is the small spaces version of Tidy Cat. It also clumps nicely. It has to be the small spaces version, which of course i can never find in the extremely large plastic tubs. Clipping your kitties nails are great. I do my cat once every 2 weeks or so, generally just the front, but every once in awhile I’ll do the back feet too. Make sure you get your kitty microchipped. Cats have a funny way of sneaking out, even if they are indoor only. If she ever gets out it will lead to a much greater likelihood of her coming back to you. I will say that never let her outside unless you want her always trying to jet out. Good luck. I can never imagine my life with out my pets and it sounds like now you can’t either.

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19.September.2014

Just get her front paws de-clawed, that’s what my parents did with all of our kitties and they were happy, healthy little pets. I know it is verrrryyyy controversial but our vet gave us pain meds and literally three hours after we brought our latest gem home she was playing and completely fine.

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19.September.2014

So, you mentioned thinking your kitten was part Maine Coon. I don’t know how universal these facts are, but:

1. My Maine Coon mix talks. A lot. Loudly. More, as other cats were added to the household, he taught THEM to talk. It’s adorable and sweet and charming…until he wants you to feed him. Plus: I can hold conversations with my cat because half the time if you say something to him he will respond.

2. He is fascinated by water. Not being in water; this is not a swimming kitty. Rather, he likes moving water – faucets, fountains, etc. If you find your cat shares this trait, I highly recommend a cat fountain…or you can be a fool like me and turn on the faucet any time you are using the toilet. Now my kitty comes running when I need to use the euphemism.

3. He’s smart, but not clever. My cat can tell time to within 10 minutes of his schedule. He can open cabinets, master “treat dispensing toys” to give the most food with the least effort…and loves fire. Yeah. I had a candle burning. I turned back just as my cat pawed at the flame, then began licking his ouched paw. “Oh man,” I thought. “I’m sorry….but at least he won’t-” And then he did it again. Unattended candles may mean “not looked at candles.”

4. Keep in mind that cats will sometimes want to scratch to their full length. With a Maine Coon, that can be considerable. If you find your cat stops using a post and goes for taller objects/door frames/etc, consider getting a taller post, and make sure their favorite material (for my cat, sisal) goes all the way UP the post. Sisal bottoms and carpet tops do no good at all if your cat only loves sisal and is two feet long. :)

Congrats on the new friend! There aren’t many better acquisitions you can make if you want your house to feel like home.

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19.September.2014

Dana, great cat post! I live in a tiny condo (550 sq ft), which makes having a cat challenging. Cats are pretty low maintenance as long as they have things to entertain themselves (as Cheetah does). Please do not get Cheetah declawed – it’s a barbaric process for them! Just keep her claws trimmed and have available scratching material.

I trim my cats’ claws with a regular nail clipper. Wrap the cat up in a blanket, pull out one paw, and trim the clear part of the nail (only the clear part). Start young and Cheetah will get used to it.

Hope that helps!

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19.September.2014

For trimming nails, my husband holds our cat like a baby and I start trimming. Once he starts to wriggle, we let him down for a minute and give him a treat. Then, it’s back into my husband’s arms for round two. Also, we’ve found that most of the time we only need to trim his front nails. The back nails don’t sharpen nearly as fast. We used to give him about 5 or 6 treats per trimming, but now we’re down to 1 or 2. It’s crazy, but cats actually can be treat trained! We did the same thing when we were brushing him. He didn’t loooove it, so we gave him a treat every time he would lash at us or walk away. Soon after we started with the treats, he came to love being brushed. :) Best of luck with Cheetah and I can’t wait for more updates!

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19.September.2014

Congratulations on the newest addition to the family, she looks like such a sweetheart!

I would suggest adding some more rope binding to the cat tree. I bought my cat Ezra a cat tree bound completely with rope, which was a little more expensive than some of the other options, but he absolutely adores it and nearly three years on he has never once scratched my furniture, carpet or rugs. I also agree with the suggestion of getting an enclosed litter tray. As Ezra has gotten older, his tendency to kick litter in all directions has become a little crazy and an enclosed litter tray really cuts down on the clean up. I would also suggest introducing fresh meat into her diet. Dry food is great, but many wet food brands have a lot of preservatives to ensure they last longer. Minced meat, chicken breasts, etc that we buy for our own meals are such better options – whether raw or cooked – and the cost per meal tends to be on par with wet food brands (well in Australia at least!). However, if you are going to introduce her to raw meat, I would start off with the a very small amount and increase the amount week by week. Kittens have such sensitive stomachs and any drastic change in diet can cause havoc.

Lastly, hold off on buying expensive toys! Despite buying a million different toys, my cats favourite things to play with is an empty paper bag and rolled up balls of paper.

Good luck!

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replied on September 19th, 2014

Thanks for the tips! We’ve already discovered Cheetah’s fondness for bags. We have one “toy” that my cousin sent home with us but she prefers the bags. Thank goodness they’re cheap and easy to come by!

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19.September.2014

I am “not a cat person”, but I still really appreciated this post! My design and decor choices are certainly influenced by our Labrador, who is as much a part of the family as anyone else who shares our home. Even though I’m dying for a navy sofa, I can’t imagine forbidding her from lying up against the couch where we’re lounging (her blonde hair would be a nightmare on a dark color). Thanks for always having a real-life approach to your home! :)

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19.September.2014

Congratulations on the newest member of the family! I grew up with cats in our house (including watching them give birth to kittens!). I also had cats for a few years when my kids were young. I think the key to having pets is not trusting them 100%. They’ll do things they’ve never done before. They’re unpredictable. They’re animals! But they can add an element to home/family life that I don’t think can be duplicated any other way. Enjoy! She’s precious. BTW, isn’t it amazing to see the different expressions they can make with their eyes?!

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19.September.2014

Cheetah is gorgeous!

Just one quick tip, Dana: cats shed a lot and the best way to clean up the fur from pillows, conforters and such is to use a rubber glove. The ones we use to clean the toilet!! It works great with minumum effort!

:)

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replied on September 19th, 2014

Good to know!

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19.September.2014

Seconding the Soft Paws. We had a cat for 17 years that never did a lick of harm to anything. Then we got a new cat, and he took to his designated scratcher and nothing else. Then we got a kitten to keep him company (some cats need it, he did) and that little thing went to town on my chairs and carpets. Soft paws saves the day.

Also, look into the tidy cat Breeze litter system. You still need to scoop every day but the pellets are larger and don’t track around in their paws. And the tray for the liquid waste is a weekly change. I wish I’d found it sooner. So much easier.

Also, if you find you need the space back in the laundry area, consider installing a cat door to give the cat access to a closet or garage litter area. You have a garage off your room and could likely build a really great enclosed litter area (keeping the cat from having full garage access, but easy to open up and clean) that the cat accesses through an opening in that wall. If I had that I’d do that, for sure. You want litter to be far enough away that you don;t see it or smell it, but close enough that you remember to clean it.

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replied on September 19th, 2014

Soft Paws sounds like a great idea if Cheetah shows interest in scratching up the furniture. I appreciate the mention, guys!

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19.September.2014

My cat sleeps on the couch or ottoman at night, but wishes she could sleep in bed with us. She can’t because my boyfriend is a very tall and long-limbed man. Also, don’t be surprised when she gets the midnight crazies one night and darts full speed to nowhere in particular, meows loudly, and darts back. :)

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19.September.2014

I always make it a point to fiddle with the cats’ paws when we are snuggling, especially when they are half asleep. Push on the pads of their feet to make the claws extend and retract and let them kneed your fingers (a nursing/comfort reaction) so they are used to you touching their paws and fiddling with their claws. That way when you want to trim their claws you just initiate a snuggling session and they barely notice that you are clipping away as you pet them.

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19.September.2014

cheetah will probably start finding some “special” places to sleep. tobi (my cat) will either sleep on the foot of my bed, the hallway, or on some random cushion in the den.
some other random tips i’ve learned along the way: if she ever pees outside of her box it can be one of two things: her being temperamental (have there been any recent changes/stressors) and if it continues to happen it could be a UTI. hmmm…if she starts being vocal it could be for attention, you’ll learn the difference in her cries just like with babies. :) one other suggestion with furniture and her laying on it: leave a blanket/towel out there and move her to it a few times then she will get the hint that it is “her spot” and it makes it easy to thrown in the wash and protect the leather/fabric

hope that helps – and i can’t wait to see more of cheetah!

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19.September.2014

We have two cats we got a couple of years apart, they are very playful and so far have been really great at using the cat tree. At the time I bought it, declared myself a true cat lady. Unfortunately both cats like different cat litters, they both are rescue cats and each home used a different litter, so now I have two different litter boxes in the basement in two different locations, sadly one location is the kids play area, I am at the moment trying to figure out how to hide it. Also this litter box has the wheat based litter and I find it doesn’t stop the smell as much as I would like.

Your cat is really cute, I would not be able to resist.

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19.September.2014

Nine words: Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter
Seriously, check the reviews on Amazon. I’ve had cats my whole life and this was a total life-changer.

Also, start putting Cheetah in your lap now and “pretend” to clip her nails. It will be way easier later if she’s used to it now.

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19.September.2014

My college roomie had a cat and she put these plastic claw covers on the nails that she always referred to as “Soft Claws.” She ordered them online and changed, replaced them every few months and then she never had to worry about our things getting scratched.

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19.September.2014

I do not like Soft Paws, but I must be in the minority here. They fall off and the cats don’t seem to like them. To each their own!
Have fun with kitty!

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19.September.2014

Especially for a non-cat person, you are doing really well! Kudos!! If you ever do watch Jackson Galaxy in “My Cat From Hell” on Animal Planet, you will meet the stupidest pet owners in the world. I hope it’s really all make-believe.

I was glad to see a non-covered litter box (people like them, cats don’t). I’m just a little worried about the food and water being right next to a heating vent. As for filtered water fountains, my cat was too scared of the motor noise to ever drink from one, which defeats the purpose.

And I have to cast a vote for NOT declawing — EVER! One of my previous cats left some puncture marks in the arms of a leather sofa, but only because the leather was slippery underfoot. She preferred to scratch rough fabric. To this day, when I see the marks on the sofa, I think warm and teary thoughts of the best cat ever and wish she was still with me, marking up the whole house.

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19.September.2014

hilarious that you have a cat tree…i just can’t bring myself to do that. thank goodness we have a sunroom that allows for window viewing. i leave out 2 tv trays that allow the cats to sit at the height of the windows and look out into the yard. oh the things we do for our pets!!
b

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replied on September 19th, 2014

I can’t believe I have a cat tree in my house either. WHO AM I?

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19.September.2014

Several people have mentioned a cat fountain… we have this one and LOVE IT. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004L4XR3I?psc=1 It’s also fairly attractive and holds a good amount of water so you do not need to refill it constantly. We had to switch to this over a regular bowl because my cat kept dirtying his water by cleaning his feet in it!

I’m also going to chime in that declawing IS NOT the end of the world if you have to do it. I have two completely declawed cats and both of them are perfectly healthy and had absolutely no long term issues. In fact, both of them still love to stretch and sharpen their “claws” on anything and everything around the house. They seem to be unaware their claws are gone. My boy is very active and runs and jumps like normal. (And yes, I tried all the training methods before resorting to declawing. I have extremely stubborn cats.) Don’t let all the hype sway you. Do what’s best for your family.

And, for giggles, be sure to YouTube “Simon’s Cat”. Hilarious cartoon shorts that will soon become very applicable to your life as a cat owner. :)

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19.September.2014

OH! And I forgot one thing. Cats seem to adore fleece blankets. If you want her to lay in a certain spot or need to protect a chair, just put a fleece there. We cover a dark brown chair we have with a fleece blanket – saves me from vacuuming the upholstery all the time and kitties love it!

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19.September.2014

I haven’t read all of the comments, but I came to say that I think Sccccat! is a product you might like. It’s basically canned air with a motion detector on top and you can set it in places that the cat likes to get and deters them with a loud blast of air. I got one to use around the Christmas tree. Only downside is that it can scare the pee out of people in the house too.

And as for the litter box, I recently got an old base kitchen cabinet, cut a hole in the side, and got a piece of nice board to put on top as a litter box holder. I’m not done yet but I’ll send you the link when I blog about it. I’m quite pleased with it so far, and the cat is too! Enjoy your new gato!

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replied on September 19th, 2014

Does the Sccccat! work with kids, too? Haha.

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She is SO CUTE! I want to give her kitty kisses!
I have a LOT of houseplants and two cats in my home. I will say that I do not allow anything that’s HIGHLY toxic in my house (no lilies! even just stepping in the pollen and licking their paws can kill a cat!), but beyond that, it’s only a problem if the cat is going near them. My cats have no interest in my fiddle leaf figs, but love to chew one of my yuccas, so the yucca had to go outside. Just try to keep an eye on her and you’ll get a better idea of whether she’s a chewer. If she isn’t, don’t worry too much!

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Oh, and please, please, please do not declaw her. I don’t want to get into an internet fight here, so I won’t say too much about it, but if you research it (which I’m sure you would if you were considering it), you’ll find some pretty horrifying things.

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19.September.2014

I just love your blog and it makes me so happy to see that you’ve added a kitty to your clan! It’s a shame that there’s such a stigma around cats when in reality, if raised with love, they actually have many of the same personality traits as dogs – to a degree :) Our two cats come running to the door when we get home, sleep at the foot of our bed every night, come when called by name and even beg for food occasionally (okay, maybe more than occasionally). My husband was definitely not a cat person when I first suggested we get one and now he’s done a complete 180 and has no interest in ever getting a dog!

In terms of scratching, I see that a few others have suggested de-clawing. Please don’t consider this. I normally don’t get very preachy but it really is a very inhumane practice. It’s the equivalent of cutting off the first knuckle in a human, not just the fingernail, and can often cause big personality shifts in cats. Their claws are their first line of defense and without them, cats tend to become more on-guard/defensive/wary instead of cuddly and loveable. Some good resources: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/tips/declawing.html and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRMip0Nngp8. I never knew so much about declawing until a friend clued me in to the process! If you begin cutting your cat’s nails when they’re young and do it regularly, you should have no issues. I recommend tackling it as a team – usually my husband will hold the cat, firmly so they don’t wriggle too much, and I’ll do the nail trimming. If you do it once a week or every other week, you’ll only need to cut the tips. Be sure you don’t cut too far back and accidentally hit the quick or they’ll bleed a little and it will hurt. Other than that, a spray bottle as worked just fine for us in training our cats where they shouldn’t be scratching.

As for litter, I recommend Swheat Scoop. It’s a wheat-based litter that our cats love and it doesn’t give off that typical “litter” smell like clay litter does. Clay litter is also really bad for the environment and your and your cat’s respiratory systems so I’d stay away from it altogether. There are so many better natural options that don’t smell as stinky!

Have fun with Cheetah, cats really are such wonderful family members :) You’ll love discovering her unique little personality and there’s really nothing better that kitty-cat snuggles at the end of long day!

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19.September.2014

“I hope she takes up ironing soon.” – I laughed so hard.

I will caveat my comments with the note that I haven’t read all of the other comments, so I’m sorry if I’m repeating things. First, I wanted to say that it seems like you’re doing a great job so far! I’m so glad you’re using a non-clay litter; clay litter (and the strip-mining that produces it) is so horrible for the environment. We use the corn-based one (World’s Best) because it seems like our kitty likes it best, but any non-clay is great.

Second, I’m so glad you haven’t declawed Cheetah. Declawing cats is equivalent to ripping out nails up to the first knuckle, and is traumatizing to the cat.

I have some tips for cutting your cat’s nails. Use two people! I always hold our cat firmly with one hand, and push down on her toes (to get the nails to come out) with the other. My husband cuts the nails. KEY STEP: After each nail, give your cat a treat. Our cat actually starts purring when she sees the nail-cutters come out now. It’s crazy. Obviously, this will only work if Cheetah is treat-motivated.

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