Water fountain, and a ‘chill out’ canopy – the ultimate cat pad

A cat pad, and a woman holding a cat.

The ultimate cat pad for urbanites smitten by kittens. (Image: Sarah S/Cover Images)

Heated dens bedecked with cushions, multiple dining options, puzzle feeders, a bespoke water fountain, a climbing wall and chill out canopy. You’d be forgiven for thinking this sounds like a swanky hotel when it is in fact the perfect pad for happy kittens.

With city dwellers choosing to own more young cats than ever, TV presenter and interior designer Whinnie Williams has been enlisted to make sure that new pet parents are furnished with all the right tips to make their homes as comfortable as possible for their fur babies.

Research by pet nutrition brand Royal Canin revealed that 65% of urban owners of young cats had taken in their first kitten within the last 18 months, but one in five (19%) felt overwhelmed by conflicting information on how best to care for them.

With 11 million cat owners in the UK, 35% want more consistent advice on how keep their kittens happy and healthy.

Seven-in-ten of the 1,000 cat owners polled didn’t realise that feeding bowls should be placed well away from litter trays, 81% didn’t know they should provide multiple feeding zones, 44% were unaware that new kittens needed specific nutrient enriched food and almost half (49%) didn’t know that young cats should not be allowed outside until they had been neutered.

Water fountain for cats

Water fountain for cats (Image: Sarah S/Cover Images)

The one thing kitten and cat owners are absolutely sure of is the love they have for their pets, as 45% say their cat is their best friend. A further third (30%) admitted to spending more time attending to their kitten or cat’s needs than their own and 23% spend more money on treats for them than themselves (23%).

The science backed pet nutrition brand teamed up with Whinnie Williams to create ‘The Kitten Dreamhouse’ and were guided in each step of the process by renowned expert Dr Sarah Ellis from International Cat Care to create the ultimate indoor environment for young urban felines to thrive in.

Dr Ellis revealed that more than one litter tray is needed per cat, and they should be in private spaces away from eating areas to maintain dignity. Food – not in shiny or plastic bowls – should be placed close to water but not close enough that they can become contaminated and there should be at least two hidey holes to retreat to.

She pointed out that cats do not like scented litter, candles, reed diffusers or oil burners – and cat print beds and blankets should also be avoided.

Whinnie, star of BBC Three’s renovation show Flat Out Fabulous and founder of design company Poodle and Blonde said: Being a cat owner myself, this was my dream brief! I had lots of fun putting this together with Royal Canin, it’s great to see they are so invested in making sure cats have the right environment to thrive. I am particularly proud of the feeding area, which is both functional and stylish.

Cat pad by Whinnie Williams

Cat pad by TV presenter and interior designer Whinnie Williams (Image: Sarah S/Cover Images)

“In the three years I have had Jimmy, I can vouch for the sheer amount of information out there for your pet. It can be quite overwhelming for kitten owners, and a lot of it is not entirely true. It’s great to know that we have designed something where kittens can thrive, especially during those first few months of their lives when they aren’t able to go outside until they are neutered.

Dr Ellis, who advised on the right level of stimulation for the Kitten Dreamhouse, the positioning of the feeding area and the colours and textures used, said: “The Kitten Dreamhouse is designed to meet many of a kitten’s species-specific needs for feeding, drinking, resting, exploration and play – it is important for owners to understand kittens have unique needs and require kitten specific food. From strategically positioned feeders that allow predatory behaviour, to features that allow them to deposit pheromones and scent, each element helps support both kittens and kitten owners. It has been fantastic working with Whinnie and Royal Canin to bring the science to life in such a stylish way.”

In response to the findings the leading pet food brand has continued to build its One in a Billion platform, which is designed to offer kitten owners a single source of accessible, expert advice to cut through the avalanche of mixed information available online.

Dr Lauren Hayes, MRCVS, a veterinarian at Royal Canin, said: “Following last year’s launch of One in a Billion for puppy owners, we knew that we needed to further our research into kitten owners and really understand the issues they are facing.

Cats frolicking in Whinnie Williams' cat pad

Cats frolicking in Whinnie Williams’ cat pad (Image: Sarah S/Cover Images)

“With more people introducing kittens into their lives and homes, it’s important that owners not only understand how essential nutrition is, but also their surroundings and the equipment available to them. As owners often find information conflicting, we hope that our One in a Billion platform can alleviate this stress and provide a one stop shop for all kitten owner’s needs.

“Our research has shown that more than one in two kitten owners are not feeding their pet a kitten specific diet designed to support growth, which they need until they are 12 months old. Think of them like children in an adult’s body: even if they look fully grown, things like their digestive tract, cognitive and immune functions are developing incredibly quickly, and so they continue to need a diet optimised for growth. Once neutered, feed a neutered specific kitten diet to help prevent unnecessary weight gain.”

For kitten owners who want to ensure their own home set up is suited for a kitten’s nutrition and enrichment needs, Dr Sarah Ellis has provided tips for optimising the available space:

1. Kitten-friendly feeding: Your kitten has unique nutritional needs, so create a dedicated feeding area free from distractions and away from their litter tray and sleeping area. Remember that during their intense growth spurt until 12 months, kittens require specific kitten food containing tailored nutrients such as essential amino acids, calcium, and phosphorus to fuel their development. And don’t be surprised if they pick at their food throughout the day, kittens, and cats like small but regular meals served at room temperature!

2. Choose purr-fect feeding and drinking vessels: Wide, shallow bowls made from ceramic, while minimising any pesky reflections, which may scare them. Avoid reflective metal and plastic bowls, plastic can absorb and interfere with smells. Ensure your bowls have ample space for whiskers and are easy to clean, as leaving old food remnants is a common reason kittens can go off their food.

3. Comfort zones: Treat your feline friend to deep, comfortable bedding that is soft and warm, with raised edges or ‘lips’ which makes them feel like they’re nestled in a cloud of comfort and security.

4. Prime potty spots: Help your kitten maintain their dignity by placing litter trays in secluded spots, far from their dining areas. Choose clumping, unscented litter for easy clean-up and ultimate freshness.

5. Harmony in multi-cat homes: Foster a harmonious environment by providing plenty of resources for each cat. Set up multiple feeding and water stations (kittens like to dine in private), multiple scratching areas and litter trays in lots of different locations. Ensure there are plenty of safe havens where each cat can claim their own space and feel right at home.

Common kitten misconceptions

  • 81% did not know that kittens and cats need multiple feeding zones
  • 69% did not know that kittens and cats need places to rub their faces
  • 55% didn’t know that kitten food has adapted nutrient levels that differs from adult cat food

For clear, simple, expert advice on raising your kitten, visit the One in a Billion hub at www.royalcanin.com/uk/Cats/Kitten/One-in-a-Billion-Kitten

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