Creating a Cat-Friendly Home: Design Tips for a Happy Kitty


Ru Chen

- Updated April 9, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Use vertical space through cat trees, shelves, and perches
  • Provide numerous scratching outlets and toys
  • Design secure hiding and resting spots
  • Lock away/avoid things toxic to cats like tulips, cleaning products, and coffee
  • Observe your cat’s reactions and preferences
Creating a Cat-Friendly Home: Design Tips for a Happy Kitty

Purrfecting your home design and decor for your cat is an exciting process – but also a tricky one. Cats thrive with different types of furniture and accommodations, such as cat trees and cozy hideaways. Knowing what makes a happy and safe kitty will let you create a better home layout for you and your cat.

Let’s dive right into cat-friendly design tips, how furniture can impact your cat’s quality of life, and other essentials for ensuring your cat feels right at home.


Understanding Cat Behavior and Preferences

Vertical space

Thousands of years ago, the wild ancestors of cats would perch atop high rocks and cliffs to spot prey and predators. This instinct has passed on to our beloved present-day cats, who naturally enjoy climbing up high. Give your cat a shelf or other structure to climb and they will happily climb to the top.


Safety is a priority for cats. There are plenty of substances that are toxic to cats that people often consume or use in everyday life. For example, flowers and caffeine are extremely dangerous to cats. Before bringing a cat into your home, take note of what would hurt your cat if they come into contact with it.

If your cat feels unsafe at home, they may display aggressive behavior or litter box issues. Hiding spots, vantage points, and private resting areas for your cat can help them feel more secure.

Cats also appreciate having a variety of options to fall back on when feeling stressed or threatened. You can place several cat blankets and resting areas throughout your home to give your cat more options.


Comfortable areas are important to the contentment of cats, especially because cats love to sleep. A majority of cats sleep between 12 to 18 hours a day. A cozy resting area for your cat can make a big difference in their happiness levels.

Generally, cats like soft materials such as cotton and wool. You might have seen your cat kneading, which is a common cat behavior meant for scent-marking, relaxation, and settling into their beds. Cats love to knead their favorite blankets, bedding, and even people.

Individual preferences

Observe your cat’s behavior and reactions to your home’s design and new furniture. Note down where your cat prefers to perch, scratch, and relax so you can make any adjustments as needed. Cat body language cues that convey happiness and playfulness include:

  • Slow blinking
  • Rolling
  • Kneading
  • Relaxed body posture
  • Neutral ear position
  • Almond-shaped eyes

Designing a Safe and Stimulating Environment

It’s important to balance safety with stimulation when designing an environment for your cat. An interesting space with plenty of enrichment activities and possibilities is essential – otherwise, your cat may become bored and downcast. This is especially the case for an indoor cat who may not receive as much mental and physical stimulation.

However, the area should also be cat-friendly. Dangerous surroundings can lead to injuries and toxic ingestion. Here are some strategies to keep in mind when designing a living area for your cat.

1. Avoid materials and items toxic to cats

Curious cats can be hurt by toxic objects. Make sure that anything toxic to cats remains out of the cat’s reach, such as safely locked behind a cabinet. Common hazards include:

  • Plants toxic to cats (e.g. aloe vera, cheese plants, and tulips)
  • Cleaning products
  • Open electrical outlets
  • Sharp objects
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeinated drinks

2. Secure windows and balconies

Even though cats are well-known for their impressive agility and balance, falling and getting trapped outdoors pose serious risks to cats. To prevent potential accidents, install sturdy screens across your windows. Screens can also still let in fresh air and natural light, which will help your living space feel lively and comfortable.

If you live in an apartment or house with a balcony, it’s important to install special balcony netting and cat-proof railings to prevent accidents. If you want to let your cat out on the balcony, it’s best to supervise this playtime. Leaving your cat unattended can result in perilous accidents.

3. Declutter your home

Clutter can be dangerous and annoying to cats. Identify dangling cords, small objects, and other hazardous items scattered around your home. A clean environment can make it safer and more comfortable for your cat.

Accidents should be dealt with promptly. For example, if a glass cup gets knocked over and shatters, make sure to clean it up as soon as possible. Cats can get injured if a mess piques their curiosity.

4. Add sources of enrichment

Toys and other cat-friendly structures can provide mental and physical stimulation to cats. If your cat lacks enriching activities to engage in or toys to play with, they can become aggressive, bored, overweight, and destructive.

Here are good enrichment activities and options to consider adding to your home.

  • Puzzle feeders
  • Cat tree
  • Window perches and cat shelves
  • Climbing structures
  • Scratching posts
  • Interactive cat toys

5. Visit the veterinarian

Consulting with a vet is one of the best ways to ensure an environment is safe and suitable for your cat. Veterinarians can give you advice regarding how to design a safe place for your cat, especially if your cat struggles with health conditions or impairments such as arthritis and cataracts.

If you’re worried about the financial burden of taking your cat to the vet, consider obtaining pet insurance. Pet insurance can greatly reduce the overall cost of vet services, such as diagnostic exams, treatment, medications, and other cat healthcare. Here are some of the top pet insurance providers.

  • Pumpkin: Great comprehensive coverage with multi-pet discounts.
  • ASPCA: Affordable plans with good preventive care options.
  • Lemonade: Coverage starts at $10/month.
  • Embrace Get up to 90% back on bills using any vet.

Incorporating Cat-Friendly Features into Home Design

Scratching outlets

Cats naturally feel the urge to scratch. Scratching posts, mats, and toys are great scratching outlets for cats. Give your cat several different options to scratch so they can enjoy the variety. If your cat doesn’t have anywhere accessible and suitable to scratch, they may feel frustrated with uncomfortable nails. This can lead to furniture damage and an unhappy kitty.

For cat owners with cats who have a track record of destroying carpets and couches, consider getting a horizontal scratching post. Horizontal scratcher pads and mats can be good options for cats with a penchant for destruction.

Since cats often move around and scratch after they wake up from a nap, it’s recommended to have scratching outlets near a cat’s resting area. This reduces the chance of your cat scratching the carpet or furniture instead.

Cozy hideaways

While cats can be mercurial when it comes to what beds and hideaways they like, most cats enjoy soft beds made of wool and cotton. The bed should be big enough for the cat to comfortably move around and stretch in, but also small enough to feel cozy and secure. Good hiding spot ideas for cats include:

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Cat caves
  • Elevated shelf draped over by a blanket
  • Covered beds

You can absolutely create DIY cat hiding spots that are inexpensive and comfortable. Choose cat-friendly materials that are safe for your feline companion to touch and use.

Interactive toys

Environmental stimulation and toys help ensure your cat is entertained and their mind stays sharp. Here are some example toys that can improve your cat’s opinion of their living area:

  • Puzzle feeders
  • Catnip toys
  • Rolling balls
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Cat feather toys

To keep your cat entertained, implement a toy rotation so they don’t get bored of the same toy all the time.

Cat perches

Cats love to climb and relax at home. Perches provide cats a vantage point where they can oversee their territory (i.e. your home) while feeling comfortable and secure. There are plenty of different styles of cat perches, making it easier to find one that fits in with the rest of your decor.

Cat tree

A high-quality cat tree can be a great furniture option that improves your cat’s environment. Cat trees are good for playing, exercising, and taking catnaps. They help cats feel safer because they can hide in the tree while also being able to see their territory from high up. Cat trees can be more expensive than simpler cat perches, but they are often a worthwhile investment for cat owners. The ideal cat tree reaches around five to six feet tall, giving your cat ample vertical space.

Durable furniture

Since cats often scratch, climb, and jump around, there is a high chance that regular furniture and household items will get damaged. Because of this, it is a good idea to purchase furniture and objects that are relatively durable so that they don’t crumble beneath the paws of cats.

Environmental modifications and accommodations

If you have an elderly cat or a cat with impairments, it’s important to cater to their special needs. Mobility issues, sensory impairments, degenerative disease, and injuries can hinder a cat’s ability to navigate. In these cases, adapting your home to accommodate your cat’s special needs can be of great help.

Adaptations to make to your home may include:

  • Adding tactile markers to food stations, litter boxes, and other important areas
  • Using scent cues to add comfort to the home

Creating Multi-Functional Spaces for Cats and Humans

It’s a good idea to plan your home out while using strategies for creating a multi-functional space. Here are some best practices for designing your home so it’s suitable for your feline friend.

1. Set up cat essentials in your home

Key elements of a snug cat home include:

  • Soft bed and resting area
  • Accessible food and water stations
  • Clean litter box
  • Interactive play area

2. Go vertical

Cats delight in climbing up structures and jumping down posts. Fortunately, this means you can maximize space efficiency by adding safe, climbable areas. Even if you don’t have plenty of floor area, cats can take full advantage of vertical space.

Effective ways to give your cats vertical freedom include:

  • Buying a cat perch
  • Getting a cat tree
  • Installing a wall-mounted cat shelf
  • Considering cat towers and cities

3. Give your cat a view

As you design your home to suit your cat’s needs and tastes, don’t forget to give them a view. A cat tree, perch, or secured window are all good options to consider. It’s good for cats to be able to see the world outside, even if they are indoor cats who don’t have frequent access to the outdoors. From the comfort of their window seat, cats can safely observe birds, squirrels, and other critters without the risk of ingesting them.

4. Incorporate cat-friendly elements into existing furniture and decor

What you buy or create for your cat doesn’t need to stand out if you don’t want it to. These days, it’s easy to find cat furniture options in pet stores or online that are functional, safe, and aesthetic.

Consider litter box enclosures, removable covers, and furniture with cat-friendly fabrics. These allow you to design to your heart’s content in a way that will work for your furry friend and yourself.



When designing a cat-friendly home, keep the following in mind:

  • Take advantage of vertical space
  • Give your cat comfortable resting and hiding spots
  • Choose cat-friendly materials
  • Keep the space clean and tidy

Every cat has their own individual preferences. Just because one cat enjoys sleeping in a soft woolen bed doesn’t mean yours might not prefer sleeping in your clothes or a cardboard box. Some lower-energy cats may not be as inclined to climb up cat trees. Observe your cat and make adjustments as needed.

About The Author

Ru Chen

Ru Chen

Content Writer

Ru Chen is a content writer with several years of experience in creating engaging and well-researched articles. She mostly writes about insurance, business, digital marketing, and law. In her free time, she can be found watching horror movies and playing board games with her partner in Brooklyn.

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