Part 1: Protecting your possessions
The first thing a cat owner should know about home décor is to keep it simple. Cats are completely convinced that they are in charge, that the house and its possessions belong to them, and that they have every right to break rip or shred anything they like. Even a well trained cat (a possible oxymoron) will occasionally get overzealous, and with an inadvertent sweep of their tail will knock your favorite decoration from its place to a pile on the floor.
This disregard for your possessions, overt or otherwise, requires that you use some strategy when deciding on the placement of various decorative pieces. This is going to amount basically to common sense. Any surface that a cat can reach, they will walk on. Therefore low shelves or dressers should not contain any objects that are fragile. Items should be moved towards the middle of a surface, or back against the wall, to prevent them being knocked onto the floor. Items that have a broad or sturdy base should replace other more top heavy objects. Decorative accents that can shatter, such as ceramics or stone statues, may have to be replaced by steal or wood.
One way to display fragile items is to move them up. High shelves that are isolated from cat “stepping stones” will be out of dangers way. The same may be true of tall dressers, although unfortunately some cats will take a tall isolated dresser as a personal challenge, which they simply have to climb. Your décor will have to be matched to the personality of your cat.
Mirrors can also provide a problem, as some cats tend to attack their own reflection. If your cat has a problem with this, buying velvet or satin cloth and draping it over the mirror can be a decorative way to solve this.
Plants can be one of the biggest décor problems a cat owner will face. Your pet can chew on leaves, dig in the soil, or urinate in them. Luckily, there are ways both to decorate around these problems as well as to train your cat out of them. For biting and chewing of leaves, a natural spray repellent applied to the plant will cause most cats to avoid it. To stop a cat from rooting in or excreting in your plant you have to realize that the dirt in the pot is reminiscent of the cats litter box. In order to change this, use stones or gravel to fill over the top of the dirt. This will remove the cat’s fascination with the soil, and can be a lovely decorative accent to your plant
Cat grass is a special kind of plant you can grow in your home that is specifically formulated to be safe for felines, and to provide them with certain vitamins they may be lacking. Purchasing this can give your cat an acceptable alternative to messing with your plants. When you see your cat eating the cat grass, reward them lavishly. When you see them going near other plants, pick them up and place them in front of the cat grass. If they eat the offered vegetation, then reward them. In this way you can use positive reinforcement to turn one behavior into anotherCats will scratch anything which is made of cloth, including couches, drapes, and pillows. Because of this, you may want to start by spraying natural cat repellent on your more attractive pieces. A plastic couch cover may have to be used for a short time while the cat learns to behave itself. Buying your pet a scratching post and praising it for scratching that instead of your couch is a good way to positively reinforce the negative behavior out of the cat. You will have to carefully monitor their progress, and only remove protective coverings from your furniture when you are sure they are safe.
While cats are a hazard to most décor, planning ahead can minimize these problems. Cats are so difficult to train that it is often easier to simply decorate around them. Using common sense, and paying attention, should allow you to develop a setting that compliments your pet owning experience.
Part 2: Protecting your pet
If you own a cat, then designing the décor of your home will require taking several precautions in order to protect your pet from harm. Glass items should be avoided both because they are easy to shatter, and because fragments of glass can then become embedded in your cat’s skin. Other items to avoid are those that have sharp edges, spikes, or that have small pieces which can break off and be swallowed. You should also consider whether any object you bring into your home would be unhealthy if eaten by the feline. These items may include plants, flowers, and scented candles. Cats are fairly self-sufficient, as well as intelligent, however they are also curious, and you do not want to give them any easy method for hurting themselves.
Cats are fascinated by string, as part of their inherent instinct to kill snakes. This fascination may carry over to electrical wires. If you catch your cat attacking or playing with electric cords you should stop them immediately. This is a very dangerous problem that can not only result in the cat electrocuting themselves, but also in causing a fire. If your pet persists in this problem, one way to protect your wires is to wrap them in duct tape. This will make them harder to break through and less appetizing for a cat to chew on. There are also many natural sprays which have specially formulated smells that will cause a cat to avoid an area in which it is sprayed.
Curtain cords hold much the same fascination that electrical wires do, and they can also be a danger from strangulation. If you have rope that dangles too far from your curtain, the cat may attack it, causing it to tangle. If the cat becomes caught in the tangle itself, it can be very dangerous. Long hanging cords should be tied up out of the cats reach, or cut so that they do not dangle where a feline can reach them. The level of caution you should use is based upon your individual cat. Monitor your pet and your home, and change your setting as necessary. Always use caution when bringing a new object into an area, and be certain you don’t introduce anything which can be harmful to the cat. Mostly, just use common sense and try to remove any obvious hazards to where they can’t be reached.
Part 3: The Beauty of Cat Decor
For the most part cat décor is less about being beautiful and more about keeping your pet safe and comfortable. However there are so many manufacturers of cat products that you can fine almost any of the items mentioned above in several different colors. Try purchasing items such as litter boxes and scratching posts in matching or complimentary colors. If you match the hue to the rest of your setting you may be able to blend them seamlessly into the area.
Alternatively, you may want to set aside a space just for the cat’s things, in order to separate them from the look of the rest of the room. While this won’t completely eliminate the intrusion of cat toys onto your setting, it can allow you to create interplay between the cat’s possessions and yours. If your home is predominated by a single color such as green or blue, purchasing matching black cat possessions can actually compliment this look. If your colors are more mottled, then patterned cat toys, or subdued sandy colored ones, may be a better way to create equality in the room’s hue.
The litter box is one of the most troublesome cat possessions to decorate around. It stinks, it’s dirty, and it’s generally surrounded by stray litter tramped out of the box by your oblivious cat. One way to deal with this item is to hide it, either in a bathroom, or somewhere out of the way such as a closet. If you don’t have anywhere to hide it, then you should consider getting a covered cat box. They are much more attractive then leaving the litter bare, and will also reduce the smell. Unfortunately these are rarely attractive, and become dirty easy. To create your own custom covering, get a giant cardboard box and place it over the litter. Cut a hole in the front where the door is. Cover the box in decorative paper, such as wrapping paper, and then coat this in plastic to protect it from moisture. This method should only be used in conjunction with an existing plastic cat cover; otherwise moisture will seep into the cardboard and turn it to mush.
Cats can make wonderful loving pets. They are fairly self sufficient, and don’t require much attention. However, they are still animals, and will be oblivious to the beauty of your home. In order to maintain the look of your setting, while maintaining the safety of your pet, you will have to plan the décor that you develop in your home. Every cat is different, so let your home evolve with the pet, until you reach a stasis in which safety and beauty are at their best.
Joey Lewitin is an author, designer, and artist. Decorating ideas from him and others can be seen at http://pebblez.com/information/home-decorating-idea.html