I have had cats all of my life – from independent Tom cats and whole litters of kittens while growing up on my family’s farm in rural Missouri to the timid indoor cats that didn’t know much of the world outside of my tiny apartment in downtown San Francisco – and I have always being drawn to them. As a child, I was fascinated by their irresistible fuzziness and playfulness and had fun doing things like dressing them up in doll’s clothing. When I was a teenager, we moved into town and downsized to one aloof calico cat named Switzer, and my brother, sister and I were always in competition for her attention. Somehow my mom always won without even trying. But what an honor it was when the cat did choose me! I really felt special when Switzer adopted a cardboard box lid that happened to be setting on my waterbed (yes, it was the ’80s!) as her new favorite napping place. Of course it was the box and the warmth of the bed she was choosing, not me, but I took it! And I soon learned that if I wanted to be graced with her presence, I had to respect her terms.
Now that I have spent some years as the primary guardian of three amazing and unique cats, I have developed even more understanding and respect for them. I enjoy learning what will please them and how to avoid things that can upset the balance. My favorite quality in cats is the inherent purity behind their intentions and actions. There are no pretenses, games or manipulations, and their affection, fondness or indifference towards us can be trusted. It is this knowledge that allows me to both be patient with them and to recognize and treasure a growing bond.
My husband Brian is a different story however. While he is kind hearted, likes animals in general and admits to loving our cats, he didn’t grow up with strictly indoor cats and does not possess that extreme level of admiration for them that allows a true cat lover, such as myself, to excuse almost any of their so-called “bad” behaviors. He notices and is irked by the kinds of things you would expect – the fact that we keep their feces and urine in a box inside our home, the fact that those dirty little feet go directly from that litter box up onto the kitchen counters at night when we’re not looking, the early morning scratching at the bedroom door and, of course, the cat hair everywhere. Add to that the fact that we live in small quarters in the city, and we almost reach an impasse. Having volunteered at the Humane Society, I know that these are some of the very reasons that people surrender their cats – it just becomes too much.
And that brings me to DK Cat and this blog. In an effort to orchestrate a peaceful living environment for everyone, I began putting my interior design and interior architectural skills to work to do some problem solving. There is a principle in architecture called “universal design,” in which buildings accommodate disabled people as well as able bodied people by integrating accessibility elegantly and cleanly into the design. In other words, wheelchair ramps, handrails and lower counter heights do not look like after thoughts. It is this concept that I believe can also be brought to our homes to integrate cats’ needs and elevate their quality of life and ours.
Key to that is understanding cat behavior. While there seems to be a growing niche of aesthetically pleasing cat furniture and accessories out there (hooray!) as well as excellent resources on cat behavior, I haven’t been able to find a comprehensive resource that brings the two together – design and behavior. With this blog I hope to provide resources for integrating cats’ needs into our homes gracefully and understanding the reasoning, with regard to cat behavior, behind those ideas. I am also very excited about making delightful things for cats that support this mission! More on that later…
Thanks for reading! What is your biggest concern when it comes to living with cats?