Welcome to 2022, where cats rule and humans are drooling over this year’s biggest pet trend: cat rooms. Our feline roommates have always comfortably laid claim to certain spots around the house. The only difference is, now we’re embracing their behavior as a design challenge. Cat rooms are exactly what they sound like— rooms dedicated entirely (or almost entirely) to our cats. Anyone who walks into one should know immediately a cat lives there—and the cat loves it. Still curious? Here’s everything you need to know about cat rooms and how to make one.

Why are cat rooms so popular?

Cats are sensitive creatures. Their noses are roughly 14 times better than ours at smelling, and their eyes capture way more in the dark than we can. Plus, they aren’t domesticated the way dogs are. House cats are still very much wild animals and rely on us to provide them with the tools necessary to fulfill their big cat instincts. Cat rooms have become so popular because they give pet cats a territory all their own. This is a safe space they can use for climbing, playing, scratching or hiding if they feel threatened or scared.

Cat rooms may also be more popular with families planning to introduce new pets to each other. Having a room your cat feels ownership over can make introducing a second cat or a dog easier in the beginning.

And honestly? Cat rooms are just fun!

What a cat room isn’t

Cat rooms are not alternatives to making your entire home cat friendly. You live with your cat! It’s your responsibility to ensure your cat feels at home. Please don’t shove everything for your cat into one space. For instance, litter boxes, scratching posts and approved nap spots should be plentiful. Can your cats easily access water whenever they get thirsty? Where can they go to take a break from visitors or loud noises? Opportunities to be a healthy cat should exist all over your house, not just in the cat room.

How to make a cat room

We love this design journey for you! Making a cat room requires lots of creative use of space, multi-functional pieces and plenty of tall perches. We recommend building out your cat room over time. Begin with a few pieces you know your cat likes and introduce new accoutrements slowly, adjusting based on what your cat loves (or hates).

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1. Pick a room

Ideally, the cat room is a spare bedroom with enough space to build horizontally and vertically. If you don’t have a spare room, consider incorporating cat room elements into an office or second bedroom. Try to pick a space with a window that offers sunshine during part of the day (and perhaps a view of a tree full of birds and squirrels). Large closets are also excellent opportunities to get really creative with vertical space.

If pressed for space, it’s totally possible to incorporate a cat room into an existing room. Try side tables or end tables outfitted with cat beds. Turn the top of a bookshelf into a comfy perch (add wall-mounted steps to make it accessible).

When in doubt, brainstorm a list of the spaces and items your cat is already drawn to and start from there. Remember, cats are obsessed with cardboard boxes. Cat rooms don’t have to be fancy—they simply have to bring your cat joy.

cat rooms walls
Chewy

2. Focus on height

Cats love climbing high because it gives them a sense of security. Not only are they distancing themselves from predators, but they are also able to keep an eye on everything going on below them. Any space that prevents them from being ambushed is a safe space. Offering your cat a few options and a variety of levels is best. We highly recommend a combination of wall-mounted perches and cat towers.

Wall-mounted perches

Wall steps and mounted perches allow cats to move from one side of the room to the other without ever touching the ground. The Fukumaru cat wall set is a great bundle that combines jute-covered steps, a hammock and a floating perch. Add uniquely shaped hidey holes and perches with fake plants to give your cat the real jungle experience. If you choose to use decorative shelves, make sure they are equipped to handle the full body weight of your cat and then some. Gluing jute, sisal or padding to the shelves will help your cat grip as they climb.

Cat towers

No cat room is complete without a cat tower. There are hordes of options available to meet any decor style. The Moonlight Cat Climbing Frame from Happy and Polly is whimsical and colorful. Frisco makes modern towers for a minimalist look. If you’ve got more than one cat, it might be worth going full cat condo with as many levels as possible. Even if you don’t have a ton of space, a simple tower with a few perches works wonders.

cat rooms scratcher
Happy and Polly

3. Give them activities

Scratching posts

Scratching is a cat’s way of marking territory and blowing off steam. Don’t put anything in the cat room you’re not willing to let your cat scratch. Do provide several scratching spaces throughout the room. Again, this is a design challenge, so get creative! There are cactus-, sunflower- and bathtub-shaped posts. There are wall-mounted sisal planks and scratchers that double as hiding spots.

Exercise wheels

Cat got the zoomies? Investing in a feline exercise wheel could be the solution to a restless cat who constantly runs down the hall and back. Training your cat to use this wheel is also a fun bonding activity and it will keep them trim, preventing health issues later in life.

Interactive toys

Cats are playful animals and do require mental stimulation. Interactive toys encourage them to explore, experiment and entertain themselves when you’re not around to dangle a fancy wand for them. Some toys require no effort on your part, while others only ask that you push a button. Treat mazes also activate your cat’s hunt and kill instincts.

Tuft and Paw

4. And somewhere to nap

Window seats

Ever notice how your cat’s naps follow the sunshine? Provide your kitty with a front row seat to sunny days (and birds outside) with a window seat. Many window perches attach directly to the glass with suction cups, while others sit right on the sill. You can also place a tower right up against the window.

Cushy, comfy beds

Cats nap. Like…a lot. A super cozy, cushy, comfy bed is essential for a cat room. If your cat is more timid, a bed that lets them truly escape into darkness, like Tuft and Paw’s Stellar Cat Bed, is great. Find something snug enough to make them feel secure, but spacious enough so they can curl up into tiny balls.

cat rooms litter box
Litter-Box

5. Provide a place to relieve themselves

Of course, you’ll want to place a litter box in the cat room! This is your cat’s territory and marking it with their scent is a huge part of establishing their sense of security in the room. It might be tempting to hide the litter box strategically, so you don’t have to see it, but cats aren’t fans of fully covered boxes. Try a box with tall sides and an open top if your kitty kicks litter everywhere. Litter trapping mats also work wonders. Keep in mind, it’s not a great idea to keep the litter box directly next to food and water bowls.

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