Small homes are becoming popular all over the country. Living in a small home has many advantages, including a smaller environmental footprint and less financial debt, not to mention how liberating it can be to declutter.
As someone who recently moved into a home that’s less than 600 square feet, I can say that it comes with some challenges too. While I’ve always been good at paring down my own possessions to the essentials, it was harder to make sure my cats had everything they needed without taking up valuable space. I’ve learned a lot over the past few months about how to keep everyone happy and purring. Here are some tips.
#1 – Choose space-efficient perches. Perching is instinctual for your cat and plays a big role in keeping her mentally and physically active and healthy. Cat trees are the most popular and obvious ways to provide perches, but most of them have a rather large footprint that can make a small home feel cramped. Instead, choose perches that attach to your walls, windows, or doors. A few of my favorites:
#2 – Choose space-efficient scratching pads. Finding space-efficient scratching pads that your cat will actually use may be tricky. Many cats have a strong preference for a specific type of scratcher and can be very invested in the material it’s made out of or whether the surface is horizontal or vertical. Choose one that’s close to the one you’ve already had success with. For instance, if your cat has loved a bulky tower-style post that’s covered in sisal, consider a sisal scratcher that’ll hang from a doorknob. It’ll take up minimal space, but will be a texture and angle that has been pre-approved by your cat.
#3 – Hide the litter box. I have found that one of the most challenging parts of living in a small space is finding a good place for the litter box. Litter boxes are big, unattractive, and can quickly get stinky. Just because you have a small space doesn’t necessarily mean the litter box has to be in your face. Here are some ideas:
- Invest in a piece of litter box furniture. Many companies these days are making cabinets that will hide the litter box from view even if it must be placed in a common area of your home. Many of them can double as coffee tables or nightstands and are very attractive and functional. If you’re cleaning the litter box on a regular basis (please do), your guests may never know it’s there.
- Take advantage of extra closet space or an unused cabinet. This is a great option if you don’t need the extra storage that you’d get from a closet or the cabinet under your sink.
- If you have no other option, you can keep the litter box in your bathtub or shower stall. It can be inconvenient to have to move it when you bathe, but cleaning up the scatter and mess from the box will be easy!
#4 – Try, then discard. Since cats are so picky about what they’ll use, it can be easy to accumulate a lot of unnecessary toys and products. Clutter can get out of hand very quickly in a small home. Get into the habit of putting a time limit on new additions and discard anything that doesn’t regularly get used or played with. Ditching unused products doesn’t have to be a total loss– shelters are often more than happy to take stuff that’s in good shape.
#5 – Stay organized. A small home will feel more spacious if you embrace the old saying of “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Because clutter can get out of hand quickly, don’t keep anything around that doesn’t have a convenient and unobtrusive home.
#6 – Choose multi-use items
In small homes, it’s always best to choose items that have more than one use. A cat bed that’s also a scratching pad is great! Here are some of my favorite multi-use products.
- The Ripple Rug is a toy, a hideout, and a scratcher all in one. It’s also easy to fold up and hide away if you need more room and it changes configurations to keep your cat interested and active.
- The Turbo Scratcher is a scratching pad and a toy. There are also all sorts of accessories you can add onto it to keep it interesting and fun.
- The Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge is a bed and a cardboard scratcher.
- The Cat Climber is a perch and a scratcher that attaches to any door in your home.
#7 – Take advantage of vertical space. People who live in small homes don’t always take advantage of the space above their heads. That’s a particularly unfortunate fact for people who have cats, since cats appreciate vertical space so much. Here are some ideas for taking advantage of all the elevated empty space in your home:
- The Staggered Cat Tree Tower runs floor to ceiling and provides lots of perching space but has a very small ground footprint.
- Clearing off the tops of bookcases and cabinets can provide good perching options as long as they’re easily and safely accessible with wall-mounted steps.
- If you’re crafty (or know someone who is), consider building a catwalk or tunnel system near your ceiling. YouTube has a lot of tutorials including this one.
#8 – Use outdoor space. If your home is small but you have some land to work with, consider utilizing your outdoor space. There are a lot of ways to let your cat roam outside in a safe way, including catios, other enclosures, and leashes.