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Have Your Cats Ever Forced You to Renovate Your Home?

My problems began when my kitties clawed my wallpaper; we ended up with a kitchen overhaul.

Heather Marcoux  |  May 19th 2015


When I bought my house a year ago, I didn’t envision kitchen renovations, but clearly my kitties, Ghost Cat and Specter, did.

They scratched walls, got too close to hot elements, and knocked clean dishes to the floor, until we realized this space just wasn’t working for our family.

We are now in the middle of a major kitchen renovation, something that I never wanted or intended to have to live through, but in the end it is going to make all our lives easier and it will make things a little safer for my cats.

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My cats were pretty excited when the renovations they prompted began.

My husband and I never would have started this process if the cats (or more accurately, Specter) hadn’t clawed up the 3D Martha Stewart panel-style wallpaper that once decorated the south wall of our kitchen. That was the first straw, really. That wallpaper was really cute, in fact, it helped sell me on the house in the first place. It wasn’t until our building inspector pointed out how soft and squishy the wallpaper was that I realized it might be an issue.

A sample of Specter's handiwork. This wallpaper needed to come down.

A sample of Specter’s handiwork. This wallpaper needed to come down.

When Specter arrived in our household a couple months after we closed on the house, she was a lot quicker to realize she wasn’t looking at real panelling than I was. She took her sharp little kitten claws to the wallpaper as soon as she could and quickly figured out that it was perfect for shredding.

As much as we tried to teach Specter to scratch other things (cat trees, cardboard scratch pads, you name it) she still got her claws in the wallpaper a couple more times and even influenced Ghost Cat to join her in a scratch session that got them both into trouble.

Baby Speck had plenty of toys, but still went after my wallpaper.

Baby Speck had plenty of toys, but still went after my wallpaper.

When my husband and I stepped back and surveyed the damage to the wallpaper, we realized it would need to come down eventually. We lived with the scratched-up wall for a few months before finally taking the plunge and pulling all the damaged paper down (revealing badly damaged drywall that was too pitted to be painted). The cats really enjoyed the night we removed the wallpaper, scampering through the torn sheets of paper we ripped from the wall and tossed to the floor. While Ghost Cat and Specter scratched up the remnants of our once-pretty wall, my husband and I contemplated how we were going to fix up our now-ugly kitchen.

The aftermath of our wallpaper pulling party. Poor Speck had to move paper to get to her water.

The aftermath of our wallpaper pulling party. Poor Speck had to move paper to get to her water.

We stood in the middle of the room, staring at the wall, and realized that there were some other flaws in our kitchen that we needed to address — some of them concerning the kitties. We had been using our kitchen island as a feeding station for our kitties. We keep their automatic kibble dispenser on top of the butcher block where it’s out of reach of the dogs, and we keep cans of wet cat food and kitty treats in the drawer below the butcher block. The drawer is much harder for Ghost Cat to open than our cupboards are, so she’s no longer able to help herself to extra servings of treats, and Ghost Cat and Specter seem to enjoy getting fed high off the ground.

Ghost Cat always liked her feeding station, but I didn't like its location next to the stove.

Ghost Cat always liked her feeding station, but I didn’t like its location next to the stove.

The only problem with using the island as a feeding station was its location — the movable cupboard was semi-permanently placed between our stove and fridge. Most of the time that didn’t bother me, but every once in a while Ghost Cat or Specter would get too close to the hot stove for my comfort. I don’t cook much, but I do heat up some noodles or fry an egg every once in a while, so sometimes those elements can be dangerously red. I kept saying we needed to move the island away from the stove, and for a while we didn’t know what we would put in it’s place to fill the void between our fridge and our stove.

At the same time, my husband was trying to come up with a way to squeeze a dishwasher into our 1950s kitchen. We’d been using a drying rack after washing the dishes in the sink, but the rack was often filled to bursting and the kitties were constantly jumping up on the counter and knocking the precariously piled dishes out of their rack. We wanted a solution that would be both a little more sanitary (who wants to eat off a plate a cat has rubbed up against?) and wouldn’t result in dishes falling to the floor every few days.

We knew a dishwasher would keep our dishes safe from our kitties, but we just couldn’t seem to fit one in our kitchen. We’re still rocking our original (read, ancient) cupboards, which means our countertop isn’t tall enough to fit a dishwasher under — but the hole left vacant by the kitties’ food island turned out to be the perfect size for the modern appliance. I guess I can thank my cats for helping to bring my kitchen into the 21st century.

"I used to find food here. Where have you hidden it?"

“I used to find food here. Where have you hidden it?”

We’re now about halfway through our kitty-inspired renovation, and Ghost Cat and Specter are adjusting well. The dishwasher still doesn’t have a cabinet built around it, but that hasn’t stopped Ghosty and Speck from jumping up to investigate the space that used to house their feeding station (which has been moved to safer location, away from the hot stove.)

As for the wall once destroyed by tiny kitten claws, well, it’s now covered in hard wood paneling, which does not seem to interest Speck in the least (and would be pretty much impossible for her to damage). We still have to add some trim, some paint, and a few more finishing touches, but the whole kitchen is really coming along. The cats are happier (and safer), and so are we humans.

Have your cats ever inspired you to take on a remodeling project? Tell us in the comments!

Read more about cats, furniture, fame, and household goings-on:

About the author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but Specter the kittenGhostBuster the Lab and her newest dog, Marshmallow, make her fur family complete. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google +.