CATIFICATION!! What is it? This term was introduced by Jackson Galaxy. He is a feline behavior consultant, musician, author (BOOKS page) and host of the TV program, My Cat From Hell. Catification is the creation of a cat friendly and enriched environment.
Jackson Galaxy coined the term "catification", but he wasn't the first to implement it. Bob Walker's book, The Cat House (Books page)was the first to ignite the fire in us regarding vertical spaces, cat walks, etc.. Review this book if you can find it. Mr. Walker is incredibly creative, uses bright, fun colors and has truly given us much to consider regarding catification!
Jackson has years of experience in cat behavior counseling and is called upon time and time again to help people on the brink of making serious decisions regarding their cats. Whether it be due to aggression toward people, other cats, destruction in the home, anxiety, etc., he often calls for Catification within the home. People love cats, but cats don't come with an instruction booklet, so not everyone is aware of their needs. Cats can suffer innumerable stresses of which we are never aware. As stresses build for kitty, kitty can eventually shut down and problems occur. Catification often relieves much of the stress they are suffering.
What does catification involve? Creating an environment in which kitty has all the resources, interactive play outlets and mental and physical energy expenders necessary to keep kitty happy, fit and healthy. Knowing what cats' needs are and looking at the environment from the point of view of the cat are essential. Cats need not only food and water, but appropriate litter boxes, scratchers, vertical space, nature views if possible and mental and physical enrichment.
Because cats are natural predators that hunt, and hunting behaviors are instinctive, it is a good idea to provide puzzle feeders or kibble hunts for kitty. Leaving dry food in a bowl is BORING!! Liven things up by making kitty hunt/work for all or part of their food. Cats should have multiple sources of fresh water and the water containers should be cleaned daily. Many cats like moving water; therefore, having a water fountain, as well as a regular water bowl, create good options for kitty. As predators, cats prefer that their water sources are separated from their food sources. Consider this when determining placement of food and water.
There should be at least one litter box per cat in the home, plus one. The litter boxes should be of ample size to accommodate 1 and 1/2 the length of kitty. This provides ample room for the rituals cats perform before, during and after elimination. Boxes should be placed in low-traffic, yet non isolated areas. Kitty needs some privacy, but areas that no one utilizes can be scary. Litter boxes should never be placed near appliances and kitty should have a clear view of its surroundings while in the box (to be sure all is safe while eliminating). Covered litter boxes are highly discouraged.
Solid, somewhat heavy scratchers are essential for cat health, and to keep kitty from scratching furniture, wood trim and carpet. Having a cat tower with scratching surfaces is even better. Cat towers/trees offer much needed vertical space for cats. Being a prey animal as well as predator, cats feel safe when situated on higher surfaces. Creating a cat highway connected to a cat tower or from the floor, but that is vertically positioned, offers kitty a wonderful way to explore, relax and get away from the commotion at ground level. It allows kitty the opportunity to engage in natural behaviors that otherwise would be impossible. If towers or cat shelves aren't possible, book shelves, tables, chairs, etc., can all be utilized. Placing these or other resting areas near windows will allow kitty to view nature outside. This will further add to kitty's enrichment!
Mental and physical enrichment encompass scratchers, vertical spaces, interactive and singular play and food puzzles/hunts. Catification is the offering of all of the above in a cat friendly way. Jackson's books have beautiful pictures of catified homes and even have directions on how to build these items. Because these items are for cats, it doesn't mean they must be bulky or ugly. Many of the examples in his books have elegant lines and are esthetically pleasing to humans. Catification options range from simple to elaborate and can even include catios (safe, outdoor enclosures with shelving and other enrichment)..
Keep an open mind, remember to think like a cat and let your imagination run free. Living with a fully enriched cat (which will include catification) will provide harmony and happiness to all within the home.