It was, to human eyes, just a worn-out old bureau with 2 drawers and a cabinet on the bottom. Yes, a cabinet door was missing, but it still had a lot of quirky charm.
Dervish, our old orange-and-white guy, was sort of a feline visionary. He saw the cabinet’s potential and moved in. I added a fleecy blanket for his comfort, and the cabinet became his private office, a refuge from the annoying younger cats. He enjoyed it mightily for the rest of his long life.
So, you see, you don’t always have to go out and buy a fancy cat bed. Oh, they’re nice, and your cat will use his when he feels like it. But there are a lot of funky and creative options that will appeal as much — if not more — to his inner cat.
Have Suitcase, Will Sleep
Jason, my tuxedo cat, used to make a point of hopping into my suitcase whenever I was getting ready to go back to college. He was large — 18 pounds — and he clearly thought that stuffing his considerable fluffiness into the suitcase would keep me from stuffing anything else in it.
Well, somebody finally improved upon Jason’s idea.
- You take an old-style suitcase — not the 2-wheeler kind — and fit the inside with a nice comfy cushion to create a charming bed.
- Optional: Glue some small wooden legs on the underside for extra height.
I once saw one such bed with a lacy ribbon tied to the handle, and all I can say is: Don’t do it. Your cat doesn’t care for all that fou-fou stuff and may try to eat it.
You can also go for the double-decker effect:
- Take the suitcase apart and stack the halves atop each other.
- Open the sides up, placing 4 sturdy posts between them to support the upper deck.
- Line each half with a cushion or blanket.
- Place some bigger feet on the bottom of the lower half, and voila! — you now have kitty bunk beds.
The Cave Kitty Factor
The domestic cat is descended from desert-dwelling species. These desert cats lived in caves, which gave them a certain amount of safety. They were protected on 3 sides and could see enemies coming without necessarily being seen themselves.
That’s why your modern-day feline tends to favor kitty igloos, flannel kitty sacks or beds fashioned to resemble tuna cans with their “lids” partially raised. They give her the same sense of security that real caves gave their ancestors.
When he arrived here, Titan, my male Abyssinian, made a calico fish bed his headquarters. The fish was surprisingly deep. From its “mouth,” Titan could safely watch the other cats and get the lay of the land.
This is where your old bureaus come into a play. No cabinet? No problem.
- Remove the drawers and create a “cave.”
- Make sure there aren’t any rough edges or weirdly angled nails that your cat can get hooked on.
- Line it with something soft and washable. Use some old pillow shams, preferably quilted ones because the batting makes for extra comfort.
And let’s not forget old-fashioned nightstands. Quite a few of these have wells or open spaces under the drawers — ready-made caves.
You could really take the cat box idea and run with it, as seen in this video:
Thinking Outside and Inside the Box
Few cats have ever met a box they didn’t like. “There’s the obvious predation advantage a box affords,” remarks Bryan Gardiner. “Cats are ambush predators, and boxes provide great hiding places to stalk prey from (and retreat to).”
Boxes can be safe havens, Gardiner continues, “place[s] where sources of anxiety, hostility and unwanted attention simply disappear.” A Dutch study showed that shelter cats given boxes upon their arrival were less stressed and more inclined to make nice with humans than those who were not given boxes.
So give your cat a box or a really big drawer filled with plushy material. Almost any piece of old furniture can be given a second life and turned into a one-of-a-kind, super-cute cat bed.
Of course, your pets will probably still claim your bed and maybe even your pillows. But they like having options, just as we do.