My cats are my best and worst roommates. They break my stuff, wake me up at odd hours of the night, and climb all over my computer when I’m trying to work. But they also curl up with me when it’s cold out, greet me when I walk through the front door, and generally make northeastern winters bearable. It’s a trade-off.
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I live in a three-cat household, which means—as you might imagine—that the kitties are pretty much in charge and I make sure they have everything they need. Some of my favorite cat products have stayed consistent since I adopted my oldest boy—but others have gained a special place in my heart, as I’ve found better methods of dealing with litter, mealtime, and feline social dynamics. Here are 10 of my all-time favorite products that make living a multi-cat life easier.
1. A Litter Genie to make your life easier
I can’t say enough good things about the Litter Genie. Maybe I’m just a wimp when it comes to litter smells, but I can’t stand living in a house that smells like cat pee. Ideally, I’d also like to avoid taking the trash out every single day. So how does a big baby like me live in a multi-cat home? The Litter Genie.
It’s a simple contraption, but a brilliant one. The Litter Genie is a liter disposal system that’s loaded with a refillable roll of plastic bags, which are then double-sealed off with two plastic lids. You scoop the used litter into the Genie and it holds for a surprisingly long time (I find it needs to be changed about once a week). Now, all those unpleasant smells stay sealed away.
2. A cat tree—or several
My cats are climbers. This is okay when it means they want to hang out on top of my dresser—but not so great when they’re trying to scale the TV set or start scrambling across the kitchen counter.
Cats don’t tend to respond well to discipline, so typically the best way to change their behavior is by providing a more appealing alternative. A cat tree might not stop your kitties from leaping onto the counters, but it will at least give them a more appealing perch. I have two cat trees: one in the living room and one in the kitchen. These are the two places where I spend most of my time, meaning it’s where my cats tend to hang out. I like that this cat tree by Frisco is substantial, but not too huge to still fit in the corner of a kitchen.
3. The world’s most reliable cat toy
Cats are notoriously picky creatures. It’s tough to predict which toys will be keepers, and which ones will wind up abandoned under the couch. My cats can rarely agree on what toys are the most fun, but there’s one exception—this laser pointer.
Basically, any time I need my cats to stay occupied for ten minutes without knocking over a vase, the laser pointer is my go-to. I love that this one is rechargeable, so I don’t have to worry about buying batteries either. I’ve also tried an automatic laser pointer that operates without human involvement, but after too many incidents of my cats trying to chase that laser up the side of my computer monitor, I’ve concluded that manual is best.
4. A gravity feeder to make sure they always have fresh water
You want to make sure your cats have a constant supply of fresh water—especially if you have male cats, who are particularly prone to getting urinary tract infections when dehydrated. Not great. Cats don’t like scuzzy water any more than humans do, so it’s crucial to make sure their water source is clean, fresh, and full. The best way I’ve found to accomplish this is with a gravity waterer.
This gravity watering bowl from Frisco is straightforward, sturdy, and easy to clean. I use the medium size for my cats, but I prefer to only fill the tank halfway since I wash it regularly. While gravity feeders don’t work for me (I need to be able to control my cats’ portion sizes), it’s a relief to know that they always have a source of water and that they can’t knock over their water bowl while I’m out of the house.
5. A litter mat to keep things tidy
Keeping the litter situation under control is probably the greatest struggle of my multi-cat life. Right after the Litter Genie, this litter mat is my second-greatest hero. The material is designed to grab hold of the stray pieces of litter on your kitty’s feet, stopping them from tracking it all over the house and into your bed (gross!). It’s made with synthetic materials, meaning I can easily hose it down when it gets nasty. I’ve sliced it before to fit awkwardly-shaped corners and I especially love that the material doesn’t unravel when cut.
6. Multiple cat carriers that fold up easily
Getting my cats into their carriers does not tend to be the world’s most joyful experience—but thanks to comfortable carriers that they’ve each covered in their fur and scent, it’s not too painful anymore. I like these collapsible fabric carriers from Sherpa, which save space and tend to elicit less hostility from my kitties. They fold up easily, and they feel more inviting compared to carriers made of hard plastic. My cats will probably never come running to get zipped into a carrier, but at least I know this one feels familiar and safe, and is easy for me to clean.
7. A calming pheromone diffuser
I hope that you never find yourself in a house with cats that refuse to get along, but sometimes it happens. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of a cat introduction gone poorly—leading to a remedial separation and, eventually, a reintroduction. There are, thankfully, several products that can ease kitty social tensions, and this pheromone spray is one of the most popular.
Pheromone diffusers are meant to calm your cat, signaling that everything is okay and they can relax. Think of it as feline aromatherapy. This can be helpful for many anxious cats, and might even reduce stress-produced behaviors like spraying and biting. Just like pretty much every cat product in existence, the efficacy of this spray varies from cat to cat. There’s no guarantee, but if you’re looking to introduce cats for the first time, it’s a tool worth knowing about.
8. Catnip or catnip alternatives
Similar to pheromone diffusers, catnip affects different cats differently. Some cats might barely blink an eye, while others decide there’s nothing more important than rubbing their entire bodies through the stuff. If catnip does work for your cats, it can be really nice to have on hand. It’s one of the most reliable forms of entertainment you can offer to a susceptible kitty, encouraging exercise and play. If your cats are struggling through a social standoff, it can also work as a calming aid and tension diffuser.
Even if your cats aren’t big fans, it might be worth exploring a few alternatives. My cat who couldn’t care less about catnip loves silver vine—a safe and powerful catnip alternative that grows in Japan and China. If you’re interested in trying both catnip and silver vine, you can hedge your bets and try a blend of both.
9. A big food storage container
Knowing my youngest kitty, if I left her food anywhere accessible, it would be strewn across the kitchen floor in about five minutes. Even if you don’t live with a food-motivated kitty, it’s still a good idea to keep any dry food tightly sealed away. This large storage container keeps food fresh, which is both tastier and safer for your kitty—otherwise, food could go stale or be susceptible to moisture and mold.
These plastic bins have done the trick for me. They snap shut, so no one without opposable thumbs is getting in, meaning no extra snacks for my cat or any household pests that might be lurking. It’s also wheeled, so I can easily drag it out of the dark pantry when it’s time for a refill.
10. A spill-proof water bottle
No, it’s not strictly a cat product, but hear me out—my well-sealed water bottle is one of the necessities of my cat-centered life. My older cat’s absolute favorite toy is a full glass of water. Dipping his paw into it, taking a sip, knocking it over. As far as he’s concerned, I should give up on the catnip mice and let him go ham with the water.
Like all quirky cat behavior, it’s an uphill battle to get my cat to change. It’s honestly easier to change my own behavior than my cat’s (yes, I realize how pathetic that sounds—but I told you they were the ones in charge). If I don’t want him making messes and getting my water glass disgusting, I’m better off drinking from a cat-proof bottle. Our favorite water bottle by Brita is incredibly well insulated and comes equipped with a straw, meaning it both maintains your drink’s temperature and seals tightly enough that it won’t spill when knocked off the kitchen table. Disappointing to my cat, but a win for me.