How To Make Your Home Bigger (at Least For Your Cats)

Ever looked at your feline friend and thought 'My home feels cramped for them'?

Our cats might not communicate it, but they crave more space. From sprawling savannahs to leafy forests, cats in the wild enjoy vast territories.

Yet, our indoor felines have only a few rooms at best. With most of us deciding to keep our cats indoors, ensuring their happiness and health means reimagining their living space - right within our homes.

It might sound like a tough task, but here's the twist. Cats perceive space differently than us, offering us a unique way to transform our homes.

This article will take you on a surprising journey of rethinking space, explaining why our cats need more room, and offering practical solutions to make your home feel larger and more exciting - at least for your cats! Let's find out how!

Understanding Your Indoor Cat's Need for More Space

The cats that share our lives and homes need large and stimulating territories. Even while confining our cats to live indoors only, we can and should offer them as much space as we can to encourage exercise and prevent boredom.

Regardless of your home's floor space, there are ways for you to increase Kitty's living space.

The lives of pet cats in the Western world have changed dramatically over the past few decades as more owners than ever choose to keep their cats indoors only.

Cats that never go outside are protected from the dangers of car accidents, predators, dogs, and malevolent humans. They also have a far lower risk of catching diseases from other cats or becoming injured in catfights.

The pesky toll of parasites, such as ticks, fleas, and worms, is also avoided in a cat that never goes outside. All in all, living indoors only offers cats a longer and much safer life.

As if these advantages were not enough, keeping our pet cats inside also makes environmental sense. Cats are efficient predators and when allowed to go outside they are likely to follow their instincts and hunt small mammals, reptiles, and birds.

In some areas, this can have a significant negative impact on local wildlife. Our pet cats are not part of the local ecological system, and it's our responsibility to reduce their effect on local wildlife, just like we try to reduce our own carbon print.

What's more, hunting puts your cat - and ultimately yourself - at risk for infections from salmonella, toxoplasmosis, and other diseases.

So, Does Keeping Cats Indoors Only Sound Perfect?

It's never that simple, is it?

Confining the cat to a limited space brings its own risks, albeit less significant ones: boredom and developing a sedentary lifestyle.

Our cats evolved to require a certain amount of exercise and stimuli. They should have enough things to stalk and "hunt" just like they would outside.

Fortunately, there's no need to bring live mice or lizards into our homes. Cat toys and some interactive playtime are enough to satisfy the hunting cravings of most cats.

Read this guide to learn how to create the perfect "hunt simulator" at home: Playing with Your Cat: 10 Things You Need To Know

Read more here for cat-toys

The Importance of Physical Activity and Territory

Physical activity is also important. Cats need a space that's large enough to encourage them to move around. That movement comes from the innate need to patrol their territory, so the larger the territory, the more exercise your cat gets.

In one study, researchers from the University of Illinois used radio transmitters to track the movement of cats who were let outside.

They found that the average pet cat patrolled a territory of about 4.9 acres. That's more than 213,000 square feet - about 100 times larger than the average American home.

So, if cats prefer to roam across acres of land, does that mean we should let them go outside? Not necessarily. As noted before, wandering outside is certainly dangerous for our kitties.

Depending on where you live, letting a cat go outside unsupervised can be anything between potentially harmful to incredibly dangerous.

The point we're trying to make here is that you should keep your cat indoors, yet be aware of the cat's innate needs and try to create more space for your cat within the walls of your home.

Sounds crazy, right?

How can you add more room when you have limited floor space?

Leveraging Vertical Space: A Game-Changer for Indoor Cats

Let's try and look at the world from a cat's perspective. Imagine that you're about a foot high and can jump and climb really well. Now take a look at your home from that feline perspective.

See how much-unused space there is around you?

Cats thrive on climbing and jumping and can really make the most of all that unused vertical space. Making the most of height, you can create paths that add a sense of distance for Kitty, without ever leaving the confines of your home.

As far as your cat is concerned, you can make your home much larger without adding any floor space.

Check out these photos and prepare yourself to be inspired.

These people created mazes of intricate catwalks and paths constructed within ordinary homes (And keep reading for practical tips for making the most of the vertical space in your own home!)

Idea #1: Cat Towers

Cat towers, or cat trees, are perfect for a feline-friendly home. They offer cats an opportunity to scratch, climb, play, and rest, all in one place.

Providing your cat with a cat tower not only boosts their mental stimulation and physical exercise but also satisfies their instinct to climb and survey their domain.

When selecting a cat tower, consider its stability, material, and the variety of activities it supports.

Read more here: Cat Trees: 10 Designs That Will Make You Go “wow!”

two cats sits on a cat tower on a blue background

Idea #2: Cat Shelves

No place for a cat tree? Shelves take up zero floor space, and cats enjoy jumping from one shelf to the next. All you need to do is make sure the shelves are not too far apart from one another, and of course, keep them clear of any items that your cat may knock over.

Here are a few examples, shared by our members in the cat forums -

Elaborate cat shelf design shared by a member of the forums How To Make Your Home Bigger (at Least For Your Cats)

Photo Shared by Pattiwatti

Photo of cat shelves shared by a forum member

Shared by cicoccabim

Photo of cat shelves contributed by a forum member

Photo Shared by mickNsnicks2mom

cat shelves photo

Shared by mickNsnicks2mom


Idea #3: Window Perches

How about a shelf with a view? That's what a window perch essentially is. Any window sill that's wide enough and free of clutter will do the job. If you don't have a window sill, you can put up a shelf or even hang a perch from the glass panes.

Cat sitting in a windowsill How To Make Your Home Bigger (at Least For Your Cats)

Our member Bengalcatman designed the window sills in his home to be used as cat window perches.

cat in windowsill

stephanietx installed this "catnapper" as a window perch

Cat in a windowsill How To Make Your Home Bigger (at Least For Your Cats)

Our member KittyPa combined the concepts of a cat tree with the window perch!

Idea #4: Utilizing Existing Furniture And Fixtures

As you can see from the examples above, creating vertical space for your cat can be done simply by utilizing existing fixtures and fittings in your home.

Encourage your cat to climb on surfaces such as your kitchen table, cupboards, and even the fridge. Unless a surface is dangerous for Kitty - like the kitchen counters and stove - allow and even encourage her to explore that vertical space.

Remember that "up" for cats is just like left and right are for us - directions to be explored and moved across.

Idea #5: Creating A Path

If at all possible, create paths across high surfaces. This can be a series of cat shelves or a combination of a cat tree and the top of your fridge, bridged using a couple of cat shelves.

The idea is to allow your cat to travel across one or more rooms without touching the floor, creating an entirely new level for exploration and exercise.

We hope this article inspires you to add more room for your home's feline residents! More space means more mental and physical stimulation for your cats, leading to reduced stress levels, fewer behavior problems, and better health!

Wrapping It Up: Redefining Space for Our Feline Friends

How To Make Your Home Bigger (at Least For Your Cats)

Transforming your home to cater to your indoor cat's needs may seem challenging initially. But remember, it's about maximizing their physical and mental engagement, not necessarily increasing the square footage.

By understanding your cat's natural instincts and behaviors, such as their need for exercise, territory, and height, you can ingeniously expand their perceived living space. Cat towers, shelves, window perches, and existing furniture can all serve as part of your feline's vertical playground.

Embracing these suggestions will not only create a cat-friendly home but also enhance your furry friend's well-being, adding more fun, stimulation, and ultimately, happiness to their indoor life. Now, isn't that a purr-fect reason to start reimagining their living space?

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below, and as always, if you have any questions about cat care and behavior, start a thread about it in the cat forums.


Note: We may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page.

15 comments on “How To Make Your Home Bigger (at Least For Your Cats)

Sophie’s_Mom August 8, 2022
“Check out these videos and prepare yourself to be inspired. These people created mazes of intricate cat walks and paths….” Where are the videos?
Anne January 19, 2018
Sorry about the links issue! Not sure why the links back to members profiles had issues but they're all fixed now. Thanks for your patience and a special thank you to the member who flagged the article. The fastest way to get our attention to just about anything on the site is by flagging an item. :geekcat:
snowpawprint January 18, 2018
none of the links worked for me... :sigh::confused2:
helene January 18, 2018
The links didn't work for me. Any way of repairing this and sending them again?
lookitsria November 15, 2017
None of the links work....
Stickers November 8, 2017
I live in a small area too but have cat tree between r windows n change boxes they lay I n few laundry hampers that are circular I cut the end off of, windows n shelf at different heigths, they love it, n even a shelf over the tv that they can get to from the cat tree, even though some cats still fight to get into the windows, pretty much it's peaceful, n never know where some like to hide.
sweettuxies Mom June 13, 2017
So dissapointed...None of the links above will open for me-I only receive errors that the sites (s) cant be found :bawling: I'm short on space and have really narrow sills and have been searching for perches / perch ideas for my little ones.
tarasgirl06 February 23, 2017 Hoping it's okay to share this amazing deal on a very nice cat activity center at  Limited time at the price, so JUMP ON IT.
roserivers February 16, 2017
when we knew that at some point the two cats we have would actually come and live with us, we began making plans. Our home is long, very long. It's Victorian, it's over a shop so it runs in a straight line from the shop itself, through the store and out the back. There's also an upstairs, so there are steps in the main part and steps up to the bedrooms. This extends their area by two more rooms and three window sills, not to mention the stairs equivalent of the cat tree, one sits at the top and defies the other to get past... makes for some interesting acrobatics, Kit, the Burmese, often takes flying leaps over Kai, pretending to guard the bedrooms! We made them a cardboard box tunnel and joined it to a three storey cardboard box house which gave them a lot of fun for months. Then we realised they weren't playing with it any more, so it was demolished (can be rebuilt in the future if we think they're up for it) and different toys and games were introduced. They do tend to make their own games, one is leaping into the armchair while the other rushes round the back so the one in front has no idea where the 'attack' is coming from... The satisfaction of 'owning' these two rescue cats (we are their fourth home) is unbelievable. We have been living with them now for 11 months and Kai, AKA Mr Grumpy Boots, has actually started to play with toys like a woollen mouse which has already needed stitching up again but it's something his rather clumsy paws can handle, or any dangling tassels, things like that which have been ignored by him all this time. He has even ventured to climb onto me and tried to sit down, unsuccessfully, it's as if he doesn't know what to do with his legs. He'll get there, I just hold him gently so he won't fall and let him work it out. The other satisfaction is; the shop below us is a framing shop. They weren't there when we bought the property, the estate agents (real estate people?) moved out and the framing people moved in, bringing excessively noisy pieces of equipment with them. So, after about ten years of noise, it was good to go downstairs and say 'hi, hope our cats aren't bothering you.' The owner said 'you've got cats????' The daughter said 'oh yes, they've got cats' as she listens to two 10pound cats thundering through our apartment, the equivalent of the entire length of the shop, and absolutely nothing they can do about it!!
segelkatt February 15, 2017
I live in a rental so putting up shelves is not an option. I also don't like for my cats to climb all over the place as it invites counter surfing. Mine have a cat tree and they do hang out on the back of the sofa. Best of all, I have a glass enclosed patio on the second floor that faces trees  and an embankment with bushes and other low plants and a small patch of lawn. My cats go out there all the time, take a nap in the sun and watch all kinds of wildlife from lizards and birds to rabbits, squirrels and the occasional coyote. Also people who walk their dogs and maintenance folk. I have a hummingbird feeder which the hummers who nest in the tree right outside the window frequent to the joy of my cats who watch them intently. On the occasion that I open the patio windows I have had lizards come in and once a bird, both of which became prey of the cats. So far they have not yet caught a squirrel, those seem to be too smart to come inside but their presence on the ledge outside the glass Is a constant amusement to them. So although my cats are strictly indoors they do not seem to miss any of the excitement of the outdoors.     
tarasgirl06 February 12, 2017
MANY thanks for this informative, interesting and educational article.  Many people probably don't know that cats are arboreal creatures, for the most part, and that they not only love, but NEED, to climb.  Making a happy indoor life for the cats we love is creative and fun, whatever our environment, budget, and decor!   And another great thing about it is that it can be a "work in progress" with tweaks and additions as you go along, as your cat family gets larger, and/or as you change decor.  Cat behaviorist extraordinaire Jackson Galaxy and cat lover/interior design expert Kate Benjamin have quite a lot to say on the subject in their books, TV appearances, videos, blogs, and social media accounts.  So do cat lovers and designers/photographer Bob Walker and Frances Mooney, ditto.  
raysmyheart February 10, 2017
Wow, this is such an exciting article for me.  Since Speedy and I have been together, I have installed a cat perch (she loves to watch the bird feeder and trill)!  I recently purchased her a cat tower (not as tall as I would like, but she can sort of "get away from it all" on the top.  I have boxes and domes and tunnels set up for her on ground level, but this article really gets me thinking about the height thing.  I LOVED both videos, that is truly my dream to live in a home like that with my cat!  I loved the perches by members on the walls!  My boss and friend at work has the dream of installing shelves on her wall.  She has five cats and is making plans with her fiance.  Cats loving to be up high may be why Speedy often lies on the top of the stairs where she can look down through the railing.  I always think she is "getting away from it all"!  Thank you for this great article!
kntrygrl256 February 9, 2017
Mine do that too, that's why I want to add shelves. Maybe they will stay off my cabinets and bookshelves. LOL
donutte February 8, 2017
My cats made their own vertical space, lol. The cabinets, the bookshelves, the top of my tube tv in my bedroom... lol.
kntrygrl256 February 8, 2017
Love these ideas. I am hoping to make my vertical space more available when I get in my new house. I now have several great ideas. Thanks for posting.

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