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How To Organize a Safe Room for Your Cat

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A tower can substitute for scratching post and bed

Armarkat Tower

Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy
One of the most important tasks to attend to before bringing home a new cat is to organize a "safe room" for her to stay for the first few days. It should include all the necessities a cat needs for comfort and security. Follow these step-by-step instructions for the best results.

Although it is most desirable if there are other cats in the house, a safe room does not always need to be a separate room. If this is the only pet in the home, the safe room may be an area set aside in a large room in the home.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 30 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Minimal Supplies for the New Cat:
    • Food & Water Bowls
    • Scratching Post
    • Litter Box
    • Cat Bed or Cat Tower
    • Toys
  2. If a separate room is not used for the safe room, place one or two tall screens to create a private section in an unused corner of a room.
  3. Place the litter box in one corner of the room, well away from the food and water bowls. It doesn't need to be fancy. The important factor is that it be sized correctly for your cat. If you want to conceal it, many nice litter box covers are available that resemble furniture or other décor. You'll also need a scoop, and a container to dispose of the scoopings. I use the Litter Locker Plus, which comes with its own scoop and a roll of replacement bags.
  4. Place the scratching post next to the litter box. Be sure it is a nice tall one, and sisal covering is preferred to carpet by most cats. If you have enough space and the funds, you might consider a cat tower as an alternative. Most of these have scratching substrate such as sisal, around many of the supports. With a nice platform at the top, many cats prefer a tower to a bed, because of their innate attraction to high places.
  5. Absent a tower, a comfortable, private place to sleep is a necessity for cats, since they sleep a large portion of the day. Of course, if the safe room is in a bedroom, your new cat may soon ignore the nice little bed you bought in favor of your bed. If the safe room is a screened off area, the cat bed could be in a corner opposite the litter box.
  6. Food and water bowls should be placed well away from the litter box. They may be made of glass, stainless steel, or ceramic. If the latter, make sure they have been glazed with a lead-free glaze. It's best to completely avoid plastic bowls for cats' food and water, as plastic is a potential cause of irritation and rash in the chin area (commonly called "kitty acne").
  7. A few toys complete your new cat's safe room. You'll want at least one interactive cat toy to use as a bonding tool, and one or two play-alone toys, for the times you are not in the room.

Tips:

  1. Be sure to cat-proof the whole area before bringing your cat home.
  2. You'll need something under the litter box to keep stray litter from landing on good carpeting or floor. Litter mats are made for that purpose, but even a layer of newspaper will suffice in a pinch.
  3. Rolled up newspaper wads also make good toys for interactive games of "fetch."
  4. An old soft pillow can substitute nicely for a cat bed.
  5. If you have the space, a comfortable chair for yourself would make your visits more relaxing for both of you.

What You Need

  • litter box and scoop
  • Paper bag lined with plastic bag for the scoopings.
  • scratching post
  • cat bed or tower
  • stainless steel or glass food and water bowls
  • plenty of cat toys
  • A screen or two if you have to "make do" with a corner of a room
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