Q: After a painful divorce, I just adopted my first cat from the local animal shelter – my ex was allergic. And while my cat is more entertaining and loving than my ex was, she's started using my antique, upholstered wing chair as a springboard from which to leap onto the top of the bookshelves.
Is there anything I can do, short of getting her a job with the circus?
A: It often seems impossible to love both cats and decor. Same thing with men and decor, or men and cats.
How many thousands of dollars have cat owners spent on beautiful loomed rugs, handsomely upholstered furniture, and raw-silk curtains, only to awake one day to the horror of seeing these things shredded, with Kitty sitting there happily licking his paws?
When you have cats, you simply have to accept it that there are some things you must live without – but hopefully knowing you've adopted a cat who otherwise would meet a terrible fate will make up for living without broadloom carpet.
And you can still have a home that looks good. You can find a variety of tough fabrics for furniture and floor coverings that will withstand Kitty's claws, in a variety of colors and patterns to suit any room.
The solution, say cat experts, is not to de-claw Kitty. De-clawing has recently come under fire for being the cause of many problems for cats.
Instead, it's time to buy some furniture just for Kitty.
It's no wonder your cats have taken to climbing the heights of your shelves. Think of cats in the wild: the leopard lying on a tree branch, the lions perched on the edge of the rocky cliff. Cats like to have a comprehensive view of their territory, to keep an eye on possible enemies and possible prey – they have to be able to keep an eye out in case those toy mice start marching.
So don't resist Kitty's need to climb. Instead, indulge it!
First, of course, clear off the top of the bookcase. Unless Kitty is an enormous beast, you could leave one or two heavy, impossible-to-knock-down items, but generally speaking keeping the clutter off the top of the shelves will also improve the look of the room.
Then, look into getting a ladder of some kind for kitty to use to get up there. We particularly like the ladders from Woodruff For Pets, because they have a simple, rustic look, and come as tall as six feet.
If you want to keep your shelves to yourself, you could try getting a tall kitty jungle gym, such as the Kitty Skyscraper from Whisker World. These come covered in a variety of colors of carpeting, the better to satisfy Kitty's need for clawing. The neutral colors are sure to match with the décor of your living room.
For a more elaborate climbing tree, Tick and Thistle offers one that really lets Kitty roam, if you have the space for it in your room.
For cats who really want to sink their claws into something as they climb, this sisal-wrapped ladder is a real treat, and because of the neutral tones, it will coordinate with many rooms.
But what if your living room is elegant, spare, and decorated mostly in hardwoods? For the ultimate in stylish cat furniture, The Refined Feline offers cat furniture that looks as if it were designed for a Zen retreat – sure to help with Kitty's meditation endeavors.
And, if you're unsure how or where to begin – or if you have one cat and live in fear that this will soon lead to a second – you may want to look into the furniture available from Feline Furniture. These "Cat Activity Centers" are made with a modular design, so that you can add to them or re-shape them as Kitty requests.
And when you start fretting over the clumps of cat hair on the furniture, or the claw marks in the hardwood floor, just remember: better that than beer stains on the sofa and the game on TV all day.