Help me build the cat room of my kitties' dreams!
July 7, 2014 8:43 AM   Subscribe

We just bought our first house. Yay! One of the bedrooms has been designated as a haven for our 3 kitties - a place for them to play and lounge, with litter boxes and food/water available as well so we can close the door if we need them to be contained inside for a period of time. I am looking for suggestions what we can do to make this room awesome for the cats (and for us, the people who have to clean up after our furkids and keep them entertained).

My primary interest is figuring out what flooring material is best for the room. Our 3 buddies are litter-trained but do tend to flick a lot of litter (and occasionally a turd) onto the floor. They also puke up a bunch of hairballs and make a mess with their wet food. So, we really want the floor to be made of/covered in something that is visually attractive but stain/odor resistant and easy to clean. Right now I'm thinking Flor tiles since they can be replaced as needed, but I am open to other ideas.

We'd also like to think about wall-mounted cat perches and such to make the room a climbing adventure. Do you know of any blogs that feature cool ideas for what we can do to vertically extend our cats' exploration of the room?

Finally, the bedroom is on the ground level so there is a window somewhat high on one wall and a glass door leading to a patio on another wall. Any suggestions for things we can put outside the window and door to bring entertainment closer? Maybe bird feeders? Any specific plants that I can easily grow in Seattle that will attract butterflies or hummingbirds or whatever other creatures that cats like to watch?
posted by joan_holloway to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Flor tiles are pretty good because they have a decent rubber backing to keep things from soaking through. It's not completely non-porous, but enough to buy you a little time.

If you look for "cat shelves" and "vertical cat" you'll find a bunch of ideas. I love the idea of cat shelves and catwalks. Don't forget plain old tables, too - anything sturdy. Hit garage sales and flea markets. A bunk bed or loft bed frame (throw the mattress out and use washable pads, mats, cat beds) in front of one of the windows might be hugely popular.

When I had cats and a cat room, I had a window all the way to the floor and they really liked a single row of storage cubbies that I laid down in front of it. They could get in the cubbies or sit on top, and each of them had a different preference. They spent a lot of time down there (even when higher spots were available), I think pretending to be lions.

We had raccoons that would come up to the window at night to look in. Raccoons are evil so you shouldn't deliberately attract them but it sure made for some exciting times.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:01 AM on July 7, 2014

Best answer: For flooring, my life got WAY easier when we put in laminate. You can get inexpensive overstock on laminate flooring from the major DIY stores or a place like Lumber Liquidators (if you're in the US) for as little as .99 a square foot. It's not that hard to install, it's durable and easy to clean.

The wall-mount perches are great. Our cats are elderly and don't climb much, but my mother has them and her youthful Abyssinians love them.

Glad you're doing this.
posted by Thistledown at 9:03 AM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Assuming that there's a suitable window, you'll want a bird feeder outside the window, and some good places to watch it from. It's basically cat TV.
posted by wotsac at 9:20 AM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Your cats probably like to spend time with you, so you might want to make some kind of nook (a chair, foot rest, table, or floor cushions) where _you_ would also enjoy hanging out in the cat room.

You may know about this already (this guy has a book coming out on this very subject in October), but here's a rich-looking resource that I haven't really read yet myself: Catification.
posted by amtho at 9:29 AM on July 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Oh -- one thing you can grow (be careful about placement, there's an invasive root system with this) is willow. Young willow boughs make awesome snakey cat toys. You can also potentially make baskets out of them, but the bough cat toys are truly a thing of wonder.
posted by amtho at 9:32 AM on July 7, 2014

Best answer: If you have poured cement, I'd just take up all flooring and stain and polish it.

Bird feeders, bird baths and butterfly plants should provide amusement for the kitties.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:35 AM on July 7, 2014

Best answer: Laminate is terrible with water. Even quality laminate swells and warps if it gets wet too often, unless you seal it with glue when you install it. I'd put in tile or vinyl myself. Easy to vacuum and mop. You can use cheap rugs or even flor tiles on top for softness.
posted by lollusc at 9:43 AM on July 7, 2014

Best answer: Cat hammocks!
posted by bbq_ribs at 9:47 AM on July 7, 2014

Best answer: Pee soaks into grout and is very difficult to get out, so I'd advise against tile.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:11 AM on July 7, 2014

Best answer: Cat pee will also get into the cracks in wood floors...(sigh).

Check the Ikea hacks website for cat projects! They have this shelving that comes with big spring mounted floor to ceiling poles that's perfect for cats. Wind the pole with heavy weight cotton marine rope from the hardware store... Ours is holding up really well and not shedding like traditional rope or carpet.

I too would do an easy to clean floor, and then if you want add a cheapish area rug. Ours are from ikea, and I can attest that the synthetic low-pile ones are easier to clean, and cheap enough that you could just replace them every few years.
posted by jrobin276 at 10:51 AM on July 7, 2014

Best answer: Some sort of monolithic flooring is really the answer, like a poured epoxy or terrazzo.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 11:03 AM on July 7, 2014

Best answer: I used a series of square shelves with carpet tiles glued on top to make a path up to the ceiling. If you have 3 cats it might be nice to have lots of perchable platform options.
the Ikea hacker cats link
posted by tangaroo at 12:15 PM on July 7, 2014

Best answer: What kind of subfloor do you have? What flooring is in there now? Is this in a basement? These limit the kinds of flooring options you have.

Flor tiles can get pretty expensive, and I would want something that could be mopped out and disinfected periodically. If you ever have a kitty pick up a virus, you don't want it to spread to the others. You could do inexpensive rugs or Flor tiles on top of this hard/non-porous flooring, and basically treat them as an annual cost.

If you have hardwood now, I would consider preserving it by protecting it with a waterproof underlayment, building a floating plywood subfloor on top of the underlayment, and then going with something like vinyl plank "lumber". You'll need to pop off the baseboards and quarter rounds, and raise them up. The threshold might need to be raised too, and then the door might need to go up a bit too. If you suspect there will be some peeing-in-the-corner action, you could go with plastic roll baseboards (though it looks a bit weird in a home), to make sure nothing leaks down.

All in all, this preserves the floor, is cheap, is wet-moppable, and can be easily demoed by a future owner or in preparation for resale. It also keeps all subflooring (and any downstairs ceilings) free of possible cat pee.
posted by fontophilic at 1:22 PM on July 7, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas so far! To answer questions above, the room in question is on the ground floor and there is no basement or any other living space below it. The room is currently carpeted with your typical hideous generic beige carpet but I don't know what's under that.
posted by joan_holloway at 1:58 PM on July 7, 2014

Best answer: How thoughtful! Your cats will adore their paradise. While I cannot really recommend any particular solution, I just wanted to suggest you to make sure you protect your home's "bones" from any damage the cats could leave behind: the sub flooring, the joists supporting the floors, as well as the walls in the room.

We are still removing the persistent smell of cat urine from our 90-year old house. Many locations in our beautiful old-growth, solid oak floors, the floor joists, and the lower few feet of plaster walls were soaked through at some point. One neighbor mentioned that the former owners had a couple of aged cats for a long while, and thinks that is when the damage was done. Whatever the cause, even after extensive cleaning & refinishing, the smell still pervades several rooms in our house, especially on humid days. Every expert we have spoken with said that the only wait to get rid of the odor is to replace the flooring, floor joists, and the walls wherever impacted, which is quite a large part of our home. It's going to take us years to save for the repairs.
posted by apennington at 3:10 PM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My cats love this cardboard cat scratcher/lounger that looks a lot classier than the flimsy kind you find in many pet stores. They've also loved various heated kitty beds and pads.

I have bird feeders set up in the backyard; my family room sliding glass door looks out on the bird feeding area, and the cats LOVE to watch the birds and squirrels. If you want to plant native plants to attract hummingbirds and butterflies, a local nursery should be able to help guide you.

And here is a website featuring how to build your own Chase A Mouse custom toy for kitties.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:58 PM on July 7, 2014

Best answer: What we had in our cat room (second floor):
Plastic shelving with towels/blankets on it
A 2X4 that was a couple feet long and mostly covered in rope that acted as a "staircase" for the higher shelves.
A bunch of smaller shelves we made with PVC pipe and wood.
A special shelf made for the triangle window so the cats could sit and enjoy the view.

We also had a screen door put in so they could look around a bit more.

Don't forget to save a couple moving boxes for the cats to play around in.

Oh... I highly recommend covered litterboxes for a room like this.
posted by luckynerd at 6:32 PM on July 7, 2014

Best answer: A Kitty Cot or two in the window! It's a favorite perch amongst my crew.
posted by jamaro at 6:56 PM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One more suggestion - if you can, put the litter box up on a table or platform, with adequate room in front for the cat to enter/exit and easy step/ramp access for the cats. You will be _so_ _much_ happier cleaning the box, since you won't have to bend or kneel on the ground. Maybe a small thing, but a small thing repeated 1000 times is a big thing.
posted by amtho at 4:42 AM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: amtho is totally right about not having the litter box on the floor. If your kitties like it on the ground, you could also get a stool for you to sit on. Also, keep a dedicated broom and small dustpan set next to the litter box, along with a supply of your bags of choice.

What a fun project!
posted by bluesky78987 at 9:05 PM on July 8, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you for the suggestions everyone! I never would have considered vinyl, having not known there were styles designed to look like plank hardwood rather than the tacky tile stuff I grew up around. I'm also interested in this idea of putting the litter boxes on a table and will have to see how to incorporate that into my Grand Plans.

We're a long way off from executing, but this is a good head start.
posted by joan_holloway at 2:01 PM on July 15, 2014

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