What Does A Cat House Need?

Basic Cat House Needs

Cats require basic elements in a cat house to stay warm, safe, and comfortable. The most essential needs are shelter, warmth, and comfort.

The cat house should provide a sheltered space that protects the cat from wind, rain, snow, and temperature extremes (reference). It should have a roof, walls, and a raised floor to separate the cat from the ground. The doorway should be covered or offset to block wind and precipitation.

Insulation, bedding materials, and heating pads can help the cat house retain heat in winter. The house should be just large enough for the cat to enter, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Smaller spaces stay warmer than cavernous ones. An enclosed cat house with thick walls provides more insulation than an open shelter.

The floor can be covered with straw, towels, blankets, or other soft bedding to provide comfort and warmth. Avoid materials like hay that develop mold. The bedding should be changed regularly to stay clean and dry (reference).

Size and Space

Cats are active animals that need adequate room to move around comfortably. According to experts, the minimum amount of space a cat needs is around 18-20 square feet total (Source 1, Source 2). This should be spread out over multiple rooms, not just confined to one small area.

For a standard one bedroom apartment (around 600 square feet), there should be plenty of space for a single cat. Larger homes can easily accommodate multiple cats, but each cat still needs their own dedicated spaces and resources. It’s not just about total square footage – vertical space, cat trees, shelves, and multi-level perches allow cats to utilize the room they have more efficiently.

Regardless of room size, make sure to provide places for your cat to perch up high, areas to hide and relax, and open areas for running and playing. Cats enjoy having options across different heights and environments within the home.

Enclosed Space

An enclosed space with four walls and a roof is essential for a safe and secure cat house. The walls provide security by preventing cats from wandering off and keeping predators out (The Importance of Cat Enclosures). The enclosure should be fully roofed to protect cats from harsh weather elements. There should be a cat door or flap allowing entry and exit from the house while keeping the cat contained (Catio: The Benefits of Outdoor Enclosures for Cats).

Within the enclosed cat space, include hiding spots like cardboard boxes, tunnels, and covered nooks so cats feel comfortable and can retreat when needed. Providing enclosed hideaways allows cats to relax, sleep, and observe the outdoors safely from a covered vantage point (https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/catios-benefits-outdoor-enclosures-cats).

Elevated Area

Cats love to perch up high and survey their territory. An elevated area like a cat tree allows them to satisfy this natural instinct. According to the Benefits of Having a Cat Tree article, cat trees provide different levels for climbing and perching which cats enjoy (source). The height allows cats to get a bird’s eye view of the room and watch what’s going on around them.

Climbing up to an elevated perch provides mental stimulation and satisfaction for cats. As The Benefits of Having a Cat Tree in Cincinnati article explains, the vertical nature of cat trees allows cats to act on their natural climbing instincts (source). Reaching a high vantage point gives cats a sense of accomplishment.

In summary, an elevated area like a cat tree platform satisfies a cat’s innate desire to perch up high and survey their surroundings. The ability to climb upwards and reach new heights also provides cats with mental enrichment.

Scratching Posts

Cats have a natural instinct to scratch, so providing appropriate scratching surfaces in your cat house is essential. Scratching allows cats to stretch their bodies and release feel-good hormones that reduce stress (Source 1). Scratching also serves as a form of communication, allowing cats to mark their territory by leaving both a visual mark and a scent (Source 2).

Scratching posts come in many shapes, sizes and materials. Look for posts that are sturdy, tall enough for your cat to fully stretch, and covered in a material they find appealing, like sisal rope or corrugated cardboard. Place posts in areas where your cat already tries to scratch furniture. Having multiple posts around your cat house allows them to stretch different muscles and leaves them choice.

Providing appropriate scratching posts satisfies your cat’s natural instincts in a safe, designated area. This prevents damage to your furnishings while supporting your cat’s health and communication needs.

Litter Box

One of the most essential components of a cat house is providing a clean and easily accessible litter box area. Most cats prefer a quiet, private space for their bathroom needs. The litter box should be placed in an out-of-the-way location that is not near the food or water bowls.

The box itself should be large enough for the cat to comfortably turn around and dig in. Many cats prefer an uncovered box that allows them to see their surroundings. The litter should be an absorbent, clumping variety that is scooped at least once per day. Completely changing out the litter every 1-2 weeks helps control odors.

Cats are very fastidious animals and will avoid using a dirty box. Be sure to wash the box with soap and hot water when replacing the litter to remove any buildup of smells. Proper maintenance and cleaning of the litter box area is essential for both the health and happiness of house cats.

Food and Water

Cats need separate bowls for their food and water that should be placed far away from their litter box. Food and water bowls placed too close to the litter box can contaminate the food and water, leading to illness. It’s best to place the food and water bowls in an entirely different room from the litter box, ideally in a quiet area like a hallway or spare room.

Ideally, the food and water bowls should be placed at least 3-5 feet apart from one another. Cats do not like when their food and water sources are too close together. Separating them helps prevent contamination between the food and water bowls.

The food and water bowls should be placed on an elevated stand or mat. This prevents the bowls from sliding around on the floor and keeps them cleaner. Place the bowls in a well-lit area so the cat can easily see their food and water sources.

Be sure to clean the food and water bowls regularly with soap and hot water to prevent bacteria from accumulating. Provide fresh water daily. Having separate raised bowls in a quiet, clean area makes it a stress-free and healthy dining experience for cats.


Cats need comfy spots to curl up in for cat naps throughout the day. The ideal cat bed will be soft, cushioned, and cozy for a cat to sink into. According to The New York Times, some of the best cat beds feature cushioned materials like faux fur, microsuede, and memory foam. These soft beds allow cats to nestle in and feel secure while sleeping.

It’s also important to choose a bed that is machine washable. Cats can track in dirt and dander over time, so having a bed you can toss in the washing machine helps keep things clean. Catster recommends looking for beds with removable, washable covers if the entire bed can’t be washed.

Providing different bed options allows your cat to choose based on their mood and preferences. An elevated bed or hammock can provide a secure high-up place for naps. Enclosed dome beds appeal to a cat’s natural instinct to seek out cozy, safe spaces. Place beds in quiet areas your cat frequents for sleep. Having multiple beds around your home ensures your cat always has somewhere soft and comfy to curl up.


Cats need toys to provide mental stimulation and allow them to act out their natural batting, pouncing, and chasing behaviors. Some of the most popular and effective cat toys engage a cat’s instincts to hunt prey. These include toys they can chase like balls or mice, toys on strings they can paw at and bite, and toys stuffed with catnip. Interactive toys are especially good for providing cats with an outlet when alone. Some top options are puzzle feeders, automatic laser toys, treat balls, and toys with random movement. Plush mice and feather wands are classic interactive toys cats love to bat around. Providing a variety of toys keeps cats entertained and prevents boredom.

According to reviewers on sites like Amazon and USA Today, some of the most popular interactive cat toys include the Yeowww! Banana Catnip Toy, the PetFusion Ambush Interactive Toy, the PetSafe Funkitty Cat Toy, and the SmartyKat Electronic Motion Cat Toys.


Cat-proofing your home for safety involves securing hazardous areas, removing toxins, and preparing for emergencies. All cleaning supplies, chemicals, medications, and toxic houseplants should be kept in locked cabinets out of your cat’s reach (Zoetis Pet Care). Things like antifreeze, bleach, and pesticides can be extremely toxic to cats if ingested. Make sure trash cans are covered and keep lids on laundry detergent pods.

Areas like balconies, windows, and fireplaces should have secure screens or barriers installed to prevent falls or escapes. Cats can squeeze through very small spaces so check for any potential openings. It’s also wise to prepare an emergency kit with a pet first aid book, extra food/water, medication, medical records, and leashes (The Wildest). Having a plan in place for fires, natural disasters, or other crises can help keep your cat safe.

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