In this blog post I am going to share with you insight into our life designing for and living in a tiny house with our little cat – Roxanne.
We adopted Roxanne back in 2014, when Kenton and I lived in a big rental house. We fostered her through the SAFE Team, who rescue animals that might otherwise be put down or have been abandoned, you should check them out if you’re thinking of adopting a pet! She ended up being what they in the biz a “foster fail”: we adopted her instead of letting some other family have this insanely awesome cat.
Quick cat mom brag about how my cat is the best cat (and yours is too, all cats are the best cat): she plays fetch with her toys, she chases shadows and sunspots, she cuddles with us every day and she is just the prettiest, smushiest faced little lump mumpkin. She also screams by the front door and picks her wet food out of her bowl and eats it off the floor like a savage. But we all have our flaws, right?
Anyway, let’s talk about how Roxanne’s life got changed, turned upside down when she moved to a tiny house. I think a cat is easier to have in a tiny house than a dog, but dog lovers feel free to chime in! She’s just small, it’s easy for her to athlete up the stairs, and she likes being up high and sitting in windows and such. For our lifestyle, a cat that can be left alone for chunks of the day really is our only option.
So one thing is she used to have the whole house to rip around in, so she could zip around different rooms and get those legs moving. Now that we’re tiny, we’ve found that having the loft has helped her to still get her exercise in. If we throw her toy carrot/peas off the bedroom loft, she can run down the stairs, wrestle them to death and then bring them back up to us to throw again. Plus, we let her outside (supervised and in the daytime!), so she can get some stretch and chase some farm mice.
Another challenge has been to give her access to all the spaces in the house. She is a little athlete still, since she’s only 5 years old, but we have two lofts and only one staircase. Well, we knew we had this little beast when we were building, so we set up a cupboard system that she can walk across to access the other loft. At first she hated it and we had to be really “encouraging” (AKA put her on the middle of it, terrified) to get her to walk across it. Now she has no issue and sometimes “death from above”s us by leaping down from it and onto our heads on the couch.
Last challenge of tiny house cat-ing: where do you put all the cat stuff? Cats have a surprising amount of stuff, you learn as you try to carve out spots to store your own junk in your tiny house. In the bathroom, we raised our washing machine to fit her litter box under there, and store the clean litter in behind it, and that works pretty nicely except when you step out of the shower and onto some litter on the floor – bleh. We have her dry food stored in the stairs above her bowl, and her wet food we store in the kicker space drawer in the kitchen. This is where she meow-leads us when we have neglected her and starved her purposely for hours and she is on the brink of death. We have left her cat scratcher out by our shoes and just hide it away when we want to impress other humans, and her toys all over everywhere, as cats require.
Having Roxanne in our tiny house was always our plan, so we put extra thought into what she needed and how to accommodate her as we designed and built. I think that having your pet dog, parakeet, rabbit or rock in mind when you are going tiny makes it possible to fit almost any kind of animal into a small space – all it takes is a littler planning and thought. Although she isn’t quite human, some would argue that she’s even better, and we have set up our lives and our house to make sure all our family members (furry included) can enjoy it to its fullest.
Melissa (+ Roxanne)
Melissa Zerbin is a totally normal person who has lived with her husband and cat in their tiny house since 2016. She loves cats, food, and other humans, and is currently completing her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy.