How to prepare a home with cats for a dog

Kelly enjoying the cat tree

As first dog owners we did lots of reading and searching on the Internet about preparing our home with cats for the dog. Since we have three cats, careful preparations had to be thought of to prepare the cats for the dog arrival, by smoothly placing changes in the house.

The first thing we did was to buy another cat tree and to place shelves on the wall next to the cat tree, so that the cats could circulate on a higher place where the dog could not go. We had a cat tree from before, but now we decided to buy a higher one that would go all the way to the ceiling. Below you can see our first cat tree.

Our first cat tree, which now is on the balcony.

Cats seem to enjoy these cat trees very much. From our experience we see our cats spending hours and hours in the tree, scratching the tree and climbing the tree. By introducing a higher tree, we enabled another place in the house where the cats could feel safe and have it as their own territory. There are several cat tree models available in the market, with different prices and design styles. We have been buying most of our pet accessories from an online pet store named Zooplus and there we bought as well our cat trees. We are very satisfied with Zooplus range of products offered, prices and fast deliveries from Germany to Finland.

New cat tree in the living room with all our cats, happy!

New cat tree in the living room with all our cats, happy!

When you start choosing a cat tree for your cat, a good thing to consider is definitely to have pillar(s) with scratchers, which fulfils the cat’s needs to “sharpen” their claws and minimizes their scratching in unpleasant places, such as your beautiful couch! Our cats prefer as well the rounded platforms with a soft bottom (see figure in the beginning of the post), so they can snuggle, instead of the platform with a straight and hard surface. If you consider a high cat tree until the ceiling, it is recommended to attach it to the ceiling, or to have a pressing end to the ceiling like ours. However, if you choose one like ours, we would recommend a tree with 3 or more pillars, connected along the different levels for stability. We have placed all our trees in different corners of the room and it seems to work wonders. Initially we placed our first tree in the middle of a wall and it turn out the cats did not feel so enthusiastic to climb all the way up and spend time there. Then we tried room corners and that worked fine. Nevertheless, there are cat owners, which have placed their cat tree in other places with success for the cats. Therefore, if you try one place and it does not seem to work out for your cat after a month then you can consider another place.

Shelves were another wonderful idea to add to the high places where the cats could go. Initially we were a bit unsure about how our living room would look like with empty shelves in a straight line near the ceiling. As we searched alternatives, a simple and cheap solution came by. Four shelves from IKEA large enough for the cats to be able to lay on the side and stretch, and additional supports under the shelves. IKEA shelf “LACK Wall shelf”, Length: 110 cm, Depth: 26 cm, Thickness: 5 cm.

Tiguinho the cat on top of the IKEA shelves :)

Tiguinho the cat on top of the IKEA shelves 🙂

Instead of having the shelves in a straight line, my husband had the lovely idea of placing them like a staircase. Not only it works for the different cats, as each shelf can be a single territory, as well it stimulates exercise and it looks good in the living room! It is important to have good supports under the shelves, to enable good support to the cat’s weight and running around. The cats can climb into the shelves through the cat tree. We have been placing the cats on the shelves ourselves as well, specially on the opposite end direction of the tree, to enable exercise and stimulus  since they are most likely inclined to come down through the tree.

Puska and Kelly the cats on the shelves

Puska and Kelly the cats on the shelves

How about where you place the cats litter box? Easily you can image a dog placing is nose on the cats litter box, disturbing the cats needs and possibly increase dirt around the house. We used to have our litter box in the bathroom, which was not very nice. Therefore, we decided to move it to the storage room and place a cat door/flap. After little training, our cats easily got adapted to the new place and it turn out to be very good since it is not visible, it does not smell in other common areas and the dog and possible children cannot access it. Again we bought the cat flap through Zooplus – Cat Flap.

Tiguinho trying the cat flap for the first time

If you do not have an extra room where you can place the cat litter box, you can always consider a piece of furniture like a sitting place or even a cat tree which has a area for the litter box. As long as the dog cannot reach inside with his nose and paws, it should work fine. If you make a search on “Cat Litter Box Furniture”, you will find endless alternatives offered in the market. An example is the one from Cat Bed and Toy. The furniture should be long enough so it is out of the dog’s reach when he tries to place is nose and paws in the furniture cat door entrance.


Our cat litter box in the storage room with a cat flap

Our cat litter box in the storage room with a cat flap

Again, an extra door like a cat flap you came at hand. If you do not succeed in keeping your dog away from nosing around the cat litter, you can always use cat flap which opens only to your cat, through your cats chip.

Finally, since dogs have an urge to chew we can no longer leave around on the house floor cat toys, which are smaller, where the dog could swallow and choke. These include little balls, mice toys, strings and feeder type of toys.

Basically, these were the major changes we made to our home with three cats to accommodate a dog in the family. It would be nice to read your comments on what you have used or tried at home with cats that worked or not for you with a new dog coming in. Above all it is nice to see the cats happy, until they adapt to the dog and vice-versa,  with little tension and stress is in place! 🙂


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