Catification: Designing a Happy and Stylish Home for Your Cat (and You!) is the 2014 New York Times bestselling book by “My Cat from Hell” star, Jackson Galaxy, and hauspanther.com founder, Kate Benjamin. Despite the title, the authors rightly stress that Catification “is so much more than [a design book].” Instead, the book is ultimately a guide to happy indoor coexistence between cats and their human companions. The book is premised on the following points:
- Cats have six basic needs (hunt, catch, kill, eat, groom, and sleep);
- Cats must be kept inside because of the inherent dangers posed by the outdoors;
- Because cats were domesticated relatively recently, they are still adapting to an indoor-only environment;
- Catifying one’s house with the above in mind will lead to a “happy, healthy, safe, and stimulating environment.”
According to the book, “cats are the only true carnivore humans have tried to domesticate, and have gone from having a free-roaming, active existence to a captive, indoor, sedentary one.” It is imperative for cat owners to “understand how domestication affects his or her cat’s behavior, well-being, and health.” The authors continue, “for indoor cats, we must provide them with an environment and activities that allow them to confidently and comfortably [hunt, catch, kill, eat, groom and sleep].”
Keep Cats Indoors
The difficulty is providing for a cat’s needs solely indoors. Unfortunately, other than leashing cats or building catios, indoor confinement is the only ethical option for cat owners. Jackson Galaxy, like nearly all cat experts, is adamantly opposed to free roaming cats:
“Keeping cats indoors is the best way to ensure they live long, healthy lives. Yes, cats have natural instincts, such as climbing and hunting, which can be fulfilled when they go outside, but the dangers far outweigh the benefits. Outdoor cats face threats from cars, poisons, being trapped or locked in places they shouldn’t be, fights with other outdoor animals, and further unthinkable outcomes. We’re here to tell you that you can (and should) keep your beloved feline family members safely indoors, and that you can easily give them all the things they need to thrive. That is what Catification is all about.”
This section of the book veers into unique, must-read, territory. While fans of Jackson’s television shows will be familiar with many of the concepts, it is an invaluable resource to have them laid out in one place. “Think of Catification like urban planning… to accommodate the needs of residents, so everyone can coexist in an orderly fashion.” The authors then proceed to discuss hot spots, ambush zones, dead ends, traffic circles, revolving doors, escape routes, multiple lanes, on/off ramps, destinations, and rest stops. The hope is that cat guardians will take the lessons learned in the book and apply them in their homes to create cat superhighways — “a path that allows cats to navigate a room without touching the ground.”
The next 200 or so pages of the book are littered with examples of how Jackson, Kate and their fans have catified their homes. Many of the best case studies come directly from “My Cat from Hell” episodes. No matter the size or shape of one’s home, you are likely to find inspiration in these pages.
Catios – The Great Compromise
There are even a number of catio examples. Per Jackson:
“Catios, to me, are the great compromise. While Kate and I are (literally!) begging people to not let their cats outside, we still believe there are ways to allow cats to have access to fresh air and sunshine, to see birds and bugs, and to experience a little bit of what comes with outdoor living. An excellent way to make this happen is through the magic of a catio.”
We strongly recommend Catification. It is an easy to read and follow guide to creating harmonious lives for indoor cats and their human guardians.
Disclaimer: Custom Catios worked with Jackson Galaxy on a Season 1 episode of Animal Planet’s “Cat vs. Dog.”