The difference between a house and a home is how much you love living there. LaunchPad explores the innovative technologies that help you care for your space more effectively.
Like other cat owners who are in denial, I tell people that my cat has the personality of a dog. She greets me at the door, seeks attention from human beings, and is seemingly affectionate… at times. “I wonder if Ziggy understand the concept of love,” I’ve said aloud to one too many people in my life. “Does she love me? Does she know I love her? If I die, would she eat me?” (According to one medical examiner, yes.) When I ask Ziggy these questions, she sometimes responds by licking herself.
I think that’s a good sign. But in the absence of a mutually understood language, the best I can do to express my love (besides delivering lots of pets) is to equip her with all the tools she needs to cat. Here are the things that will help your cat get even closer to achieving bloodless feline perfection.
Before I bought an automatic feeder, my cat’s favorite pastime was waking me up at the crack of dawn for breakfast. Her M.O. — a common one — was to step on my face very deliberately. Eventually, she got crafty, knocking objects from my nightstand onto my head. Several near-concussions later, I ordered a five-meal auto-feeder and programmed it to spin at 5 am sharp — right before any face-stepping and nightstand-knocking would normally occur. It was a game-changer for mornings, for short vacations, and for my overall sanity. Paired with a handy water fountain, my cat is more self-reliant than ever. (Nevermind the fact that I still have to refill these things.) It’s almost as good as having two maids on cat duty, a la Karl Lagerfeld.
Self-cleaning litter boxes are incredible in concept, but between maintenance and cleaning (poop jams are a thing!), most of them require more legwork than a manual litter box. Instead, go for a roomy, high-sided litter box paired with a good quality scooper (that means metal, not plastic) and a cushy litter mat. That trifecta will result in contained messes and easier clean-up. If you want to go the extra mile, conceal the litter box in a cat-accessible cabinet — or invest in a hidden litter box that blends in with your furniture.
Most cats sadly don’t share the aesthetic tastes of their humans: They’ll turn up their noses at all the cute, catnip-filled mice, and colorful feather teasers you buy for them, only to play with the random detritus they find on the floor instead. Electronic cat toys are becoming increasingly sophisticated, though — from monitors that let you play with your cat remotely via lasers and treats, to toys that mimic the sounds and erratic movements of small animals. They’ll keep your cat on their toes — at least for a while. Mine is partial to a robotic, battery-powered mouse that zooms around the apartment, wiggling its ears and tail.
According to an acclaimed cat whisperer, cats need “vertical spaces” to achieve maximum confidence and comfort. Invest in a cat condo or cat tree that’ll give your cat a good vantage point to survey their kingdom. Ones that double as furniture (e.g. shelving and storage units) are often better in terms of both appearance and functionality, compared to the unwieldy carpeted monstrosities found in your average pet store. (Full disclosure: I own a carpeted monstrosity, and it serves my cat perfectly well.)
If you’re short on space, freestanding wall shelves or window perches make for excellent alternatives — bonus points if you add a plush blanket or pet bed, and a pot of cat grass within reach.
Angela Wang is a freelance writer and artist based in Brooklyn. She tweets infrequently.