I wrote about this on the main website. Open plan living is not ideal for domestic cats. This is because it is too open. Cats need, if one is going to be an excellent cat owner, at least one place to hide. In open plan living there are less opportunities to hide. Of course it depends upon the details of the interior space and the owner's preferences.
Some owners like totally sheer, clean areas with minimalistic lines et cetera. It is these sorts of interiors which are not ideal. The need for a domestic cat to hide, however, is not that pressing in my opinion. It may occur in multi-cat households where one cat is perhaps bullying another and the submissive cat is timid.
Or the general ambience of the house is not particularly healthy with respect to a domestic cat. The owner might not be that good. There may be too much activity or too much noise. There may be a stranger in the house for a while. There are numerous factors which can generate an uncomfortable ambience for a cat. Under these circumstances a place to hide would be welcome for the family cat.
However, even in open plan living accommodation a sensible cat owner will ensure that there are some places where their cat can hide. So it is unnecessary to make drastic changes to the interior of one's home. Just a bit of common sense will do.
I can remember when I fostered a tiny feral kitten who I eventually adopted. He hid behind the sideboard. There was quite a lot of space under the sideboard and he managed to crawl under it. He lived there for about a week until I successfully enticed him out permanently with plenty of excellent food, tender loving care and, the best of all, play. So certain items of furniture may be ideal places for a cat to hide behind or under.
A good alternative too is a place which is high up. Cats like vertical travel and they can find sanctuary and safety in a high advantage point. This is where cat trees come in handy. Of course, there is no reason why a cat tree cannot be placed within open plan living accommodation (unless the owner finds it spoils the presentation of the room). Also within these cat trees there are little hiding places into which a cat can crawl.
These are all commonsense issues which are barely worth mentioning but the idea that open plan living is unsuitable for domestic cats comes from Dr Ellis a cat behaviourist and although in principle the idea is not bad I think it is a fairly weak point because there are so many ways to ameliorate the situation for one's cat if one lives in open plan accommodation.
A cat suffering from long-term anxiety may well, as a consequence, suffer health problems (urinary tract issues come to mind). It is vital really to ensure that the home is cat friendly and a place where the cat feels comfortable, reassured and safe. This is a basic tenet of cat caretaking.
There may, now that I think of it, be a connection between poor cat caretaking and open plan living. People who like open plan living may be particularly houseproud and be particularly interested in the interior space where they live. This priority for what the cat owner wants may be detrimental to their cat. There needs to be a compromise.
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