How Tok Tok Cat Tree and other pieces from Woods For Cats helped Siobhan create a safe, enriching space for her foster kittens in her smaller sized house
Siobhan is a foster carer for LittleV&Friends Animal Rescue, a Melbourne-based small independent rescue group who strive to re-home abandoned, orphaned or stray animals.
Siobhan’s journey into fostering kittens began in September 2020, during Victoria’s 3-month lockdown. A member of her family was experiencing depression, and the idea came to her that fostering could help them, as well as providing much-needed support to rescue cats. Describing it as having completely changed her life, Siobhan says fostering is not just about saving and improving the lives of cats and kittens “it’s also about changing families’s lives”.
Starting with one cat, she has since gone on to foster over 70 kittens, and inspired others around her (including her mum and friends) to foster, too.
In order to provide enough stimulation and access to scratching space, climbing space and play activities for the foster kittens, Siobhan needed to find sturdy, safe and fun cat trees, scratching posts and other cat furniture that would suit her space. Having seen eye-catching and compact pieces in the house of Vivienne, owner of LittleV&Friends Animal Rescue, Siobhan asked for more information. “I thought they were amazing and wanted some for my place too.”
Fostering kittens without the right cat furniture and equipment
Fostering cats and kittens can be challenging, especially without the right furniture and equipment in place to provide enough stimulation and activity for lively, growing animals.
Siobhan’s house had limited space, however she was determined to create a kitten room, to house and socialise them. She also wanted cat furniture that was sturdy, durable and easy to clean. However, she found that most cat furniture on the market was not up to the task, with past cat tower purchases breaking within 18 months of use, creating further cost to replace them.
“I was tired of spending money (on cat trees) only to have to replace them within a year or so. I had a cat tower that I purchased for about $160 (AUD), and it only lasted 18 months. The whole thing would rock as the cats would jump onto it and then it broke completely. I was tired of spending money, only to replace these cat trees 12-18 months down the track. Plus, they were so hard to clean and didn’t look that nice in my house.”
When Siobhan initially saw Vivienne’s furniture from Woods For Cats, she knew she wanted to get some, when she had the money to invest.
“I reached out to Woods For Cats and she was able to receive a discounted end of line piece. I loved that piece so much that a few months later I invested in another – Tok Tok cat tree. It has honestly been the best purchase I have ever made for cats – everyone needs to get one in their house!”
Tok Tok (alongside other quality wooden furniture) met Siobhan’s needs perfectly.
“Woods For Cats furniture is mostly easy to clean, durable, and even rent (move)-friendly – Tok Tok is easy to move and reassemble, and it is secured by spring-loading so no nails or screws are needed.”
Siobhan says the Tok Tok is ideal for renters or if you know you will move at some point. “I recently moved house and I was a bit concerned about having to move it. I reached out to Livia who recommended taking the platforms off, whilst leaving the brackets on. It took me about 20 minutes to remove the platforms and another 20 to put them back together in my new place – it was super easy to move.”
“You can also get extra platforms, so if you need extra pieces for the cats to sit on or sleep in, you can add them on later, as well as buying replacement rope or carpet if it wears out over time. Although, honestly the furniture has dealt with up to 5 energetic kittens at once for over more than a year now, with no issues at all, and still it looks as brand new as the day it arrived – 12 months ago!”
Improved safety, enrichment and socialisation for foster kittens
Tok Tok cat tree and other pieces from Woods For Cats have made fostering easier for Siobhan. “I now have a complete kitten room in the living area of my house, and most of it is made up of Woods For Cats furniture. This means that the kittens have a safe space to get used to us, and also get plenty of socialising with visitors. The furniture has been perfect for this space – adding height for climbing and perching – without taking up too much room at all. The kittens absolutely love playing, climbing, and sleeping on the cat tree and the beds, and all of these enrichment options help them socialise, and to grow and become healthy, happy young cats for their forever families.”
“Thanks to Livia’s research and deep understanding of cats and their needs, we also have a range of different scratchers to offer our foster kittens. Some cats love scratching vertically, while others prefer scratching a horizontal surface (or it’s a combination). I’ve definitely seen both preferences with the foster kittens, and it’s been a lifesaver being able to offer the cats both options.”
“And, if the kittens ever get distracted and go to scratch a piece of my furniture, I just redirect them to the scratcher and they’re so happy, they forget about my things.”
Siobhan has been recommending Tok Tok cat trees to her friends and co-workers, many of whom have also invested in them. She believes that the furniture is an excellent investment for anyone with a cat in their life.
She says: “Break it down as an investment – cats typically live between 15 to 18 years, so that’s only about $65 per year for a quality piece of furniture that looks good in your home, your cat will love, and you’ll never have to replace. The alternative is to buy lower quality pieces that break within 12-18 months and end up costing you 3x more across your cat’s lifetime.”
To anyone thinking of buying Woods For Cats cat furniture, Siobhan contemplates: “I get it when people don’t want to spend money with cost of living, but if you look at a bigger picture and invest straight away, your cat is going to love it (when the location is right and for some cats you give enough time), you’ll love it, it looks great – honestly I wouldn’t get anything else. So, you can’t go wrong. Just get it, and know it will last.”
“Woods For Cats furniture is an investment that I don’t regret one bit. Tok Tok cat trees are tall, but compact, making it perfect for smaller spaces. Cats love to climb up high – their instinct is to climb trees – and with sturdy floor to ceiling cat trees they can climb up and look out from the top. Woods For Cats have done so well with these, they have researched EVERYTHING, and you honestly won’t find anything better.”
Find out more about Tok Tok cat trees here:
We asked Siobhan to share a bit more about her fostering journey
“Getting into fostering isn’t easy. There are many ropes to go through, including an orientation process with the RSPCA. But, for me, it’s worth it. I was lucky to know Viv and LittleV&Friends. When we knew we wanted to foster, we reached out to Viv, but being a distance away was a challenge. So, we decided to adopt instead at first.
“We adopted Nala, and through this process I was regularly communicating with Viv – we built up a connection and trust, and I began to foster kittens. I’ve probably fostered about 70-80 kittens since then (probably even more by now!)”
“We definitely need more carers – there aren’t enough of us out there. And, fostering cats and kittens doesn’t take up a lot of space or time. You don’t need to do too much apart from giving them lots of love and nourishment, and watch them flourish from there.”
How long do the kittens usually stay with you?
“The kittens normally stay with me from anywhere between a few weeks to a few months. The longest stay was probably 3 or 4 months. Although, I did have a pair in care up until 10 months old, who were hand reared. They were a bit timid which meant it took a little longer for them to find a forever home.”
“A big thing to focus on is the area they’re in and what they’re exposed to – do they get to experience a range of sounds, smells, and people? It’s a good idea to always start them in a small, safe space (that’s why I have the kitten room set up). From there, you can introduce them to new areas and new people to help socialise them, and get them used to ‘life’.”
What motivates you and what are the challenges?
“There can definitely be challenges with fostering. This time last year (May, 2022) was the hardest period for me. I seemed to have sick kitten after sick kitten. Knowing your limits with fostering is so important. I’ve worked out my limit is 4 kittens at a time. I can extend to 5, but when I’ve had 5 or 6, I see more sickness – one will fall ill, then another, and trying to give them all equal focus can be hard.”
“If you’re considering fostering, I’d say, do what you can do within your own means. And, make sure you look after yourself, too. I keep fostering because the love they give you and the reward of seeing them flourish, and leave a confident and completely different kitten keeps me going. Knowing I’ve changed their life and made all these families happy keeps me going. The only time I’d stop is if I eventually have a family, but I think I’ll still do it. Fostering is a part of me and my life now.”
“I’m very grateful for Viv, who allowed me to start. She’s an amazing mentor and person. She’s supported me so much. I’m also so grateful for all the different people I’ve met, who I would never have met without fostering. And most of all, it’s brought me closer to being comfortable in my own skin being at home after COVID.”
List of products featured in the case study (links included – please click):
- Tok Tok with Pillar Scratcher
- Tok Tok Cat Pole Dancer
- Cone scratcher
- Lollipop cardboard scratcher
- Couch cardboard scratcher
- Orbit cat lounge – white
- Zigzag play tunnel
- Window cat perch large with railing
- other products either discontinued or test products that haven’t been released