The cat may be seen as a rather low maintenance pet compared to the dog, which of course needs regular walking and a lot of input and interaction with their owners as part of their daily lives. It would be a mistake, however, to think that the cat is a “feed and forget” type of pet, and in their own way, cats need just as much consideration and thought to go into their practical care as dogs, albeit in rather different ways!
Many cat owners make the mistake of thinking that their cat will be happiest and their care will be easiest if all of the things that they need are grouped together and kept in one place; and it is true that cats do keep distinctive territories, even within their own homes. However, locating your cat’s litter tray, bed, food and water bowls near to each other is not the optimum way to take care of your cat, and can even lead to stress and unhappiness in your cat if all of their things are not arranged in the way that they would like!
Read on to learn more about considerations to bear in mind when situating your cat’s equipment, and how to pick the perfect spot for all of their things.
Cats are incredibly clean animals, and if you use a litter tray within the home rather than teaching your cat to do their business outside, you will need to make a long-term commitment to keeping their litter tray scrupulously clean! Even if your cat’s litter tray is free from urine or faeces and to you, appears to be in pristine condition, it may still have a detectable odour to the sensitive nose of your cat. It is important not only to clean out the litter tray frequently, but to disinfect it regularly as well to remove odours. If you have multiple cats, each cat should have their own litter tray, and these should not be situated close to each other. If possible, keep your cats’ litter trays in separate rooms, and also, keep you litter tray(s) as far as possible from their beds, food and water bowls, again, in a different room if at all possible.
Cats will often have multiple beds or comfortable sleeping spots, and the path of least resistance for the cat owner is to allow your cat to find the location that they enjoy being in on their own, and situate some bedding that they will like there. This will avoid the infuriating cat problem of buying a really nice and sometimes expensive cat bed, only to watch your cat completely ignore it in favour of something that appears far less comfortable!
While every cat has different tastes and preferences in terms of what they look for in their resting spots, most cats will either have a preference for sleeping on something that is high up, or in a small cosy space; or both! Cat climbing frames that have a sleeping perch at the top are often favourites among cats, as are igloo beds or other small hidey-holes that are enclosed bar for the entrance and exit.
Cats are unlikely to select beds that are near to their litter trays and sometimes, near to their food and water too, so if your cat is rejecting a particular bed, try placing it elsewhere! While soft pet bedding will need to be washed on occasion to remove shed fur and dirt, try not to wash your cat’s bedding too regularly, particularly with strongly scented detergents that your cat may find objectionable. Cats like their things to smell the same as they do!
The vast majority of us place our cat’s food and water bowls alongside of each other, and indeed this seems eminently sensible when you consider the cat’s requirement for water alongside of dry food in particular. However, recent wisdom indicates that this might not be the most natural or appropriate way to cater for our cat’s food and water requirements, and is not the arrangement that our cats would select out of choice. While you will of course make sure that your cat’s water bowl is far enough from their food bowl that it cannot become contaminated with dropped food, this may not be enough.
In the wild, cats eat their prey and scavenged food some distance from their sources of water, to avoid contaminating their water supply with decaying remains. So too, do out modern cats prefer to have a reasonable distance between their food and water bowls; such as on opposite sides of the room, or with several feet between them.
Don’t move your cat’s water bowl suddenly so that they cannot find it; try setting up an alternative water bowl on its own as well as their current bowl, and see which your cat prefers. This is a particularly helpful hint if your cat seems to enjoy drinking water from the shower tray or bottom of the bath, or worse, the toilet!
Always remember that your cat must have access to clean, fresh water at all times, and their water bowls should be cleaned and replaced with fresh water at least once a day.
Finally, remember to keep food and water as far from litter trays as possible; in another room, if you are able to do this.