During our recent move, I’ve been really aware of my cats’ perception of space. We went through a period of almost two months where there was very little if any furniture in the house. The cats seemed discombobulated. They seemed to be looking for something to nap on, or sit on, or give them a point of reference to their former household. When they didn’t find it, they roamed about restlessly.
Of course, they did use the wonderful windowsills (especially when it got warm enough to start opening the windows), but it seemed as if they were looking for something more. If I was going to be anthropomorphic, I’d say that it seemed they were looking for completion. Or perhaps I was looking for completion.
I slept on the floor with a bunch of sheets and blankets, with a sleeping bag providing some cushioning. I thought the cats would take to this bed roll, but they showed little interest. I had a theory that perhaps its boundaries were not defined enough, or it didn’t provide enough height.
When the bed showed up, the cats seemed instantly relieved. The moment I set the bed up and made it, they were on it, sleeping. I wonder if the bed provided some sort of safe space or home base for the cats.
As stuff slowly began to come into the new place and get set up, the cats seemed even more secure. It really made me aware of the need to give them some sort of security and familiarity with what I had. Here are four ways to make cats feel safe:
Ever noticed how cats love boundaries? In the last place we lived, we had a small rug in front of the wood stove. The cats would fight for a place on that rug. If I removed the rug, the cats weren’t as apt to nap in front of the wood stove. They’d take their places on the futon, instead.
Height means security for a cat. It’s also a way for them to case out their surroundings from a safe spot. Since our place lacked furniture for the first few months, the cats gravitated toward the tops of cabinets. Of course, they also loved their new cat balance beams!
This is easy and can be done in a number of ways. If you have empty boxes, use them. If your cats are energetic like mine and love boxes, chances are the box will slide all over the place and get tipped in all directions. An almost too-small box is a delight for a lot of cats.
Open cat carriers are also a great way to provide a safe space for a cat.
Cats naturally find hiding places, so just be sure they are safe and not a somewhere a cat could get trapped, stuck, or hurt. Certain toys work well, too, such as a cheap nylon cat tent or even the cool little cat condo I picked up at a fundraiser for $3.
If you have more than one cat or a cat who needs her share of alone time, a safe space can include a place to escape. One Catster commenter pointed out that it was best if there were plenty of escape routes for cats in a living space. That has proved true in our new place, especially with six cats, including the newly integrated, former feral Zorro!
So, how do you provide a safe space for your cats? Let us know in the comments!
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About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr (cat fantasy novel out June 1), the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.