Cat Hacks: Using Cat Senses and Needs to Your Advantage
I absolutely love my cats, but they sure can drive me bananas. I want to give them a great life so I’ve made some changes in how I do things. From the day that a new cat arrives in my house I work to set him up for success and will adjust what I’m doing so I can make it easier for us to live harmoniously.
Sharing a Bed with Cats
Our new king-sized bed seemed gigantic until the cats moved in there with us. One of the most common problems my husband and I encountered was that the cats were in our way or even in each other’s ways, and when two cats get in each other’s way, territorial disputes can happen. I have addressed this problem by adding a moveable bedside cat tree.
The cat tree I chose is this one:
The Kitty Cot cat tree made by Molly and Friends offers a solid scratching post, a non-tip base, and a generous sleeping cradle.
We already had it and the cats like that it is tall, very stable, and the curved sleeping profile accommodates Retro’s large body. I like it next to the bed for these reasons:
- It’s a good height compared to the bed and easy for cats to get off/on
- The base of the tree is carpeted so it is easy to push on the bedroom’s wood floor. I can reposition the cat tree and shove a cat further away from me.
- The carpeted base makes it easy to push the tree out of the bedroom
- The tree gives the cat an escape route way from the other cat or restless human sleepers
If I were redesigning this bedroom, I would also consider adding cat shelves on the bedroom wall, especially any shelves that were designed to be sleeping spaces, but I would keep this moveable bedside cat tree. For more ideas on how to catify your home, try our Pinterest board on the topic, or search words like catify, catification, and cat furniture. The Hauspanther blog is also a fantastic resource for cat design ideas.
Use Sound to your Advantage
I’m going to tell you something now that can be difficult to understand and remember- cats can hear and smell better than we can. You know how fantastic and detailed your sense of vision is? Well, just try to imagine that you could experience odors and sounds like you experience sights; that’s probably more like the cat experience. They sure can’t see the way we can, but they can smell and hear far beyond our capabilities, and their existence depends on these skills. I suggest that you create associations between giving them treats (which have an odor you may not be able to discern, but they can) and with play time. Here are some ways you can do this.
Always Associate Treats and Play Time with Sounds
When I get a new cat one of the first things I do is learn what treat food they like. If that treat comes in a plastic bag that makes a noise, I crinkle that bag every time I offer the treat and the cat quickly learns to associate the sound with the treat. This association makes it easier to locate lost cats or get the cats to come to you when you need them.
My cats love the Life Essentials dehydrated chicken made by Cat-Man-Doo. The plastic bag makes a distinctive noise when crinkled and I trained my cats to recognize the sound.
I like to use the Temptations cat treats in this 16 oz. tub because it makes a distinctive noise when I shake it. My cats recognize this sound and come running when they hear it.
How to associate a sound with play time
Now I add sound association with their favorite toys, even silent toys.
Tink loves the laser and will rarely play with anything except a laser pointer, but those things are quiet, right? Wrong.
The Sunlite Tactical Flashlight has a button that makes a tiny clicking sound that I never even though of until I realized Tink would come running out of the other room when I pushed the on button. I was confused: how did she know? Was Tink psychic? Nope. She heard the click, and that toy is so important to her that she runs out to use it.
As a bonus, the Sunlite Tactical Flashlight has multiple settings, including laser. The "on" button keeps it on, so I have taped the flashlight to other things to make a new toy, see this video:
Tink playing with the Sunlite tactical flashlight attached to the inside of the Sturdi Products Hanging Pet Pyramid cat bed
More Great Laser Pointers
The Engaser is a laser pointer made for pets. This small and lightweight laser pointer uses a USB port to recharge. The ergonomic design is probably a great option if your hands are weak. I found mine at a Mud Bay store in Bellevue, Washington for around $12-$14. The button makes a soft click when pressed and my cats recognize the sound.
The Engaser is a laser pointer toy for pets that can be recharged with a USB port.
As you can see in this photo, the Engaser is small and fits easily in the hand.
This laser is so easy to recharge! All you need is a USB port.
LASERGRIP 774 Infrared Thermometer
After complaining about always losing the two laser pointers mentioned above, a wise Instagram user recommended this crazy thing:
This thing looks totally ridiculous, but it is a great laser pointer toy for cats
I guess this crazy thing is a thermometer. Whatever. In my opinion, the LASERGRIP 774 infrared thermometer is just a laser toy for the cat. It's harder to misplace, it is easy to use and easy to hold, and it makes just a tiny enough clicking sound that Tink can hear it and she comes out to play. This thing uses a 9v battery (included) and I got it on Amazon for about $14.
Good Old Laser Pointer
I haven't owned one of these things in years, or maybe I just misplaced all of them. You probably remember how annoying it is to change the tiny batteries. The good thing about this toy is:
- Your cat probably likes it
- Easy to find at sores
- The keychain
The chain? Why did I mention "the chain"? Because that little chain makes a noise. If you use a laser pointer like this, give it a good rattle every time you pick it up for play so that your cat learns to associate that sound with enjoyable play time.
Now that you've read how I am using a cat tree to manage the cats sleeping in my bed, and how I use noise to improve playtime and communication with my cats, you may realize you've done similar things. How have you used furniture to improve your life with your cats? How have you used innate feline senses to your advantage? Do you have ideas or great products to share?
Looking for more ideas on clever cat toys? This blog post shares how you can use the HEXBUG nano, a tiny robotic kid's toy, with your cats, and includes clever suggestions on how you can avoid losing the tiny toy,