It is curious to know how living with a cat can provide you with a handbook of 'do's' and 'don'ts' when it comes to furnishings, to ensure that your friend four legs can live with us in the best possible way.
They are practices of good coexistence, which vary from cat to cat based - currently - on its personal and behavioral identikit and which allow it to establish a harmonious dialogue and a healthy relationship with the human family.
Arranging furniture and accessories in a certain way, therefore, can influence the state of domestic well-being (also) when it comes to animals, and "leaving early has its advantages" says the expert.
But how to prepare a house for the arrival of a cat?
We talked about it with Luca Cantini, veterinary behaviorist who recently published his first book entitled: L'arredogatto (Pontecorboli Editore, 2023), a manual, in fact, which suggests to architects and interior designers, private individuals, cat enthusiasts but also owners of companies that produce furnishing accessories, how to design the interior of a cat-friendly environment.
What does it mean to furnish a cat-friendly house?
Luca Cantini, veterinary behaviorist: "First of all, understand how our cats conceive the living spaces that are made available to them, understand their behavioral and relational needs and be able to satisfy them.
Then go more specifically and analyze the particular needs of the cats in the house and of the family group in general. In this way we will be able to create a tailored project: the idea is therefore not to create a home for just any cat, but a home conceived for all members of the family group, cats, people and any other animals present.
What does the behavioral analysis of a cat consist of and how can it be useful for designing a space?
For us veterinarian behaviorists it consists of a series of assessments that ultimately allow us to understand whether behavioral pathologies exist. A professional in the furniture sector will thus be able to know the character of each cat and discover the type of relationship she has with the owners.
Luca Cantini: "Our cats are unique, all cat lovers know this. There are shy and reserved cats, others that are sociable and playful, some that need to move constantly and others that for various reasons are much less active.
Each of them then has a unique way of relating to the various members of the family.
Once this little identikit has been carried out for each cat, it will be easy to understand what its needs are and therefore structure the ideal environment for it".
5 tips in a nutshell for furnishing a cat-friendly home
- "First of all look up: our cats experience space in all three dimensions while most of us keep our gaze firmly planted on the ground .
- Give the cat the opportunity to use all the rooms of the house as and when he wants. Therefore, always open doors or better yet the use of small openings in the wall or more simply cat flaps that allow the cat to go around the house without having to ask anyone for permission, our cats are very proud (you know!)
- Think about scratching posts right away, understand the type of material that our cat likes to scratch and immediately make scratching posts available to him made of the same material. In this way we will have some more hope of saving our poor sofas.
- Exaggerate: enrich the environment as much as possible with everything our cats have at their disposal. So not a measly bowl for water and one for food, not a simple litter box perhaps placed in the closet, not a single kennel placed on the floor near the washing machine, believe me he will never use it.
- Give our cat the chance to interact with us when he wants to, then provide him with resting places in every room so that he can stay close to us without necessarily having to stay in close contact with us. At the same time giving him the opportunity to move away to go and rest in complete tranquility, privacy is important for our cats.
What to avoid when you have a cat (or more than one) when it comes to furnishings?
Luca Cantini: "Avoid creating aseptic environments and devoid of stimuli. Sometimes I find myself visiting homes that may even be very beautiful but which do not offer the opportunity for the cats present in the family to find even a suitable place to go to rest.
Often there is only a kennel placed on the floor next to the sofa: guess where our cat will sleep all day?
On the other hand, it will be advisable to avoid filling shelves, shelves and bookcases with everything. All this will prevent our cats from using the spaces above and this, as I said before, can represent a problem. I also remember that our cats are skilled predators so be careful of hanging plants, curtains that move at the first breath of wind and ornaments of all kinds, with a cat present in house will not have a long life.
How to prepare a house for the arrival of a cat?
Luca Cantini: "At the beginning it will be enough to make everything a cat needs available to it. We don't know it well yet so we can't do anything other than enrich the environment as we will for any other Only later, when my cat and I get to know each other better, will I be able to offer him everything he needs.
So, to give an example, if it is a shy cat I will make sure that it can go and hide in its favorite hideout every time guests arrive or if on the contrary it is a very sociable cat, I will ensure that he can orbit around us for the entire duration of the visit."
Can the layout of the house influence the cat's health?
Luca Cantini: "Certainly yes, it is one of the reasons why I wrote this guide: to avoid creating living spaces that facilitate the onset of behavioral pathologies. In fact, there are behavioral pathologies that arise in cats that live in environments devoid of stimulation or where they are denied access to certain rooms at certain times of the day.
Not to mention the pathologies linked to overcrowding problems. Through the design of suitable environments it is possible to achieve prevention, this is a topic that is very close to my heart."
What are the essential elements, in terms of furniture, that a cat needs at home?
Luca Cantini: "Our cats need to move and jump, therefore little space and many paths above that they can use. You can use modules already on the market or give space to the imagination, but the important thing is to get these poor cats moving. Staying on the subject of movement, it will also be important to give them the opportunity to play.
Let's create spaces where our cats can play freely, preferably in our company. Another fundamental need is relational. Our cats love us and we love them but if we don't give them the opportunity to follow us in all the daily activities we carry out inside our homes they won't find anything better to do than go and rest in some remote place of the house".
How can architects and interior designers make use of his role as a veterinary behaviourist?
Luca Cantini: "If we want to design environments suited to the needs of the whole family, including animals, it will be important to collaborate by each providing their own skills. The veterinary doctor expert in animal behavior will have a very clear vision of how everyone the cats in the family conceive the spaces made available to them while the architect will have the skills to furnish them in the best way > in order to make them suitable for the needs of the entire family group".