Cats love their routines, and any successful pet parent knows that maintaining those routines is one of the keys to a cat's happiness. But that doesn't mean you have to get stuck in a rut or become a pawn to your cat's habits. Looking for tips for cat owners that will make caring for your kitty more fun and easier to manage? Keep reading for some cat life hacks that just might have you purring alongside your furry companion.
Litter Box Hacks
Probably the least pleasant aspect of having a cat is having to deal with the litter box. So it shouldn't be surprising that a number of cat life hacks revolve around making your kitty's toilet easier to live with. Here are a few ideas to try:
- Hide the litter box. Stash your cat's box under an end table, or in a low cabinet with the door removed, and use tension rods to hang easy no-sew curtains that provide easy access for your kitty to do her business out of sight. Another easy option is to replace your cat's regular litter box with a large storage bin with a lid. Cut a hole in the lid that's large enough for her to fit through comfortably, and use fabric and decoupage paste to spruce it up so that it blends with the décor.
- Improve the smell. Add baking soda to kitty litter to help absorb odors and extend the life of the litter. Another trick is to add dry green tea leaves to the litter to help it smell better.
- Keep it clean. Has your pooper scooper seen better days? Convert a plastic milk jug into an impromptu scooper by cutting away the handle and the side of the jug it's on.
- Keep it contained. Cleanmyspace.com recommends replacing a standard litter box mat with a plastic grooved winter boot mat. It catches stray litter, is easy to clean, and doesn't absorb accidents like rubber mats can.
Another challenging thing about cats is their tendency to scratch everything from furniture to carpets to your toes. Try these hacks to help curb your cat's unwanted scratching:
- Make a DIY scratching surface. If your kitty insists on sharpening her claws on the table leg, wrap it with sisal rope to protect the table and provide the cat a sanctioned place to do her scratching. Take it to the next level by wrapping all of the legs on a set of end tables and stacking them to create a scratching, climbing, and napping paradise for your kitty. Another tip your cat will go gaga over: line the bottom of a small basket or a shoe box with corrugated cardboard and place it near a sunny window for all of her scratching, sunbathing, and bird watching pleasure.
- Practice claw control. Trimming your kitty's claws takes minutes and can go a long way toward saving your upholstery. If your cat is too feisty to submit to the clip, your vet or a pet groomer would be happy to do it for a nominal fee. To make the trim last longer and prevent your cat from sharpening her claws while adding a little fashionable flair to her paws, try covering them with soft rubber claw covers, available at most major pet stores.
Cat Hair Hacks
Controlling cat hair is a never-ending battle. Short of shaving your cat or investing in an industrial-strength vacuum cleaner, what can you do? These tips for cat owners may not conquer the hair problem completely, but they can go a long way toward making it less of a headache:
- Try hands-free grooming. LovePetsDIY.com recommends attaching the stiff bristles from two (preferably new) toilet brushes to a board for a hands-free self-grooming and petting station for your cat. The more your kitty goes to the brushes for back scratches, the more of her hair will get collected in the bristles for easy cleanup.
- Make wiping up cat hair a cinch. Wear a rubber dish glove and simply rub your hand over the upholstery to loosen hair and wipe it away. Using a blown-up balloon can have the same effect. I'm sure you remember the static cling that causes your hair to stand straight up when you rub the balloon against your head.
- Vacuum your electronics. Instead of using compressed air to clean cat hair out of your keyboards and electronic devices — scattering it everywhere else in the process — attach the lid of a reusable squeeze ketchup bottle to the end of your vacuum cleaner's hose to fit between the keys and all of those device nooks and crannies.
Cats need a lot of play time, not only to keep them fit and healthy but also to provide mental stimulation that keeps them from getting bored and into trouble. But finding time to play isn't always easy for busy pet parents. Try these hacks to provide your kitty plenty of opportunities to play and climb to her heart's content:
- Give her a place to climb. Arrange floating shelves on a wall to serve as a stairway, or lay boards on the rungs of an old ladder to make a DIY kitty condo. If you're handy with a power saw, cut squares into the shelves of an old bookcase, making them large enough for your cat to fit through. Line the remaining surface of each shelf with old carpet or felt to make a tower where she can climb and lounge.
- Make a puzzle toy. Remove the top of an old tissue box and fill it with empty toilet paper rolls. Hide treats and toys inside the rolls and let your cat have fun finding and retrieving them. Another project you can craft is cut holes in the lid of a large plastic food container that are large enough for your cat to reach through, but not a size where she might get her head stuck if she gets curious. Fill the container with her favorite toys and some treats and snap the lid on, then sit back and enjoy watching her free her stuff.
- Take advantage of her affinity for boxes. Place boxes of different shapes and sizes around the room. Hide treats inside for your cat to "hunt." She'll be endlessly entertained going from box to box, playing her own version of hide-and-seek.
If there's one thing cats love more than their routines (or boxes), it's sleep. A funny thing about cats is that they never seem to be satisfied with a single spot for taking a snooze. Add some variety to your cat's sleeping options with these easy hacks:
- Convert an old T-shirt into a sleep tent. This hack has two easy methods. The simplest is to remove the lid or flaps from a square, cat-sized box and slip the shirt over the box so that the neck is centered over the box's opening. This is now the tent opening. Tuck in the sleeves along the sides, pull the shirt tight and secure the bottom of the shirt at the back of the box. The other version involves using wire hangers to serve as a tent frame inside the shirt. Find detailed instructions for this version at Instructables.com.
- Make a tiny cat hammock. Use Velcro straps to hang a piece of cloth underneath a chair or small table for your kitty to lounge in. Just make sure to not forget that her hammock is under there if you choose to sit there.
- Invite your cat to sleep on your desk. Place a small box, box lid, or tray on your desk so she'll feel welcome to sleep near you while you surf the web. This can help her feel like you're paying attention to her without her walking over your keyboard.
Hack Your Pet Routines
Don't see a hack on the list that suits your needs? A little creativity and ingenuity is all it takes to come up with your own cat life hacks. Look at items you already have around the house and think about ways your cat might get enjoyment out of them or that they might make cat care a little more convenient.
Start with things your cat is already drawn to. For example, do you have a remote-controlled car that she loves to chase, but you're afraid that either she'll damage the car or hurt herself if you let her play with it? Try placing it inside a hamster ball so she can safely chase it as much as she wants. A little outside-the-box thinking about how to use household items will have you coming up with your own pet hacks in no time.
Having a cat is often a mix of rewards and challenges, but applying some of these clever tips for cat owners will go a long way toward weighing the scales on the reward side and making it easier for you and your cat to enjoy life together.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.