When we adopted our Boys, it was straight from the Kitten Room at Treehouse, a cageless, no-kill animal shelter on Chicago's northside. By way of furniture, the Kitten Room has a couple cat trees and a few chairs for human visitors. Still, it came as a surprise when we brought The Boys home that they didn't seem to know what furniture was. Wobbling on the floor, they'd gaze up at the couch or a table and appear completely baffled, quite as if, well, they'd never seen a couch or table before.
I knew at the time that this was our golden opportunity: how easy it would be to train them not to jump on furniture, since they didn't know what it was and showed no interest in it anyway. The advantages were obvious: No cat fur on the sheets! No knocked-down knick-knacks! No claw marks defacing our still sorta-new furniture! But then I thought of how nice it was to nap with a purring cat on the couch, or to cuddle on a recliner after dinner, and I came to my senses. That first night, we picked the kittens up one by one and lay them down under the sheets to sleep with us. They seemed to marvel at the softness and were very pleased indeed.
Over the past three years, I've had plenty of opportunity to rue the day I showed Lickity how to spin my office chair around by jumping on it from the cat tree, or the fact that we're none too strict when they scratch the furniture. There's a middle ground between oppressive and overly permissive; the key is to replace unsuitable Objects-of-Merriment with inexpensive items or with products specifically designed to cultivate the urge to claw, gnaw, scratch, climb, and play. Here are three things that have worked for us.
The Cat Tree
Okay I admit: I balked at the price (over $200). But this is one sturdy piece of cat furniture, having endured three years of punishing abuse and what's more: it's never tipped over, not even when both cats hurl their weight at top running speed, which amounts to a couple dozen times a day. It gives them something to climb, something to claw, a place to hide (at the base) and a high place to perch and nap. Dollar-for-dollar, this is the best investment in kitty acroutements we've made.
Above: Lickity tends to be a stretch-and-scratch kind of guy. We got this tree at Liz's Pet Shop (note: the website appears to be under construction, but the address and phone number are on the site).
I don't know if it's the texture or what, but cats love this scratcher. Seconds after it's opened, the cats pounce on it and scratch merrily away. Better that than the imported, hand-knotted rug Alpay's mother gave us for our housewarming gift.
The Humble Cardboard Box
Having recently gone though several boxes of old files, I tossed this box aside to throw out. Before I could take it to the trash, it had been annexed by The Boys as a combo hideout/fort/giant teething ring. Lickity in particular likes to jump in it and gnaw away when he gets frustrated, which is often. Sure, it's a little messy what with the cardboard shreds. But it's also a no-cost option--you can't beat that!