I am an Affilate!

I hope you enjoy any product or service that I recommend. :) Just so you understand, I may take a share of any sales or other compensation from the links on this page. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks if you use my links, I really appreciate your support.

Cat Proof Clothes Airer – Is It Possible?

If you have a cat that keeps messing with your clothes airer you may be wondering if there is some way to keep it away from it…

Why do cats like to play with clothes airers?

Clothes airers are an almost endless source of amusement for bored kitties and it just makes good sense. After all, the clothing draped across the wireframes means that sleeves, sashes, socks, and other items are dangling down and often moved in the wind.

Do cats know that you don’t like them on your airer?

A white T-shirt outdoors on a clothes rack.

A white T-shirt outdoors on a clothes rack.

Your cat might even know that if they pull down some of these ‘fun, fuzzy toys’, you are going to come running to get them back and hang them back on the clothes airer, so in some cases, your cat is doing this just to signal that they want to play with you or would like a bit of extra attention.

Your cat treats these much the same as they would anything that’s dangling on its own – they’re going to bat at it and possibly even grab a piece in their mouths and pull. For your cat, it’s the same as if you’d hung some yarn out for them to play with.

While it’s easy to forget, your cat is a predator, albeit a small and adorable one. As such, those hanging clothes are simply a way that they can have a good time while practicing their hunting skills.

What is a clothes airer?

A ‘clothes airer’ is also commonly referred to as a ‘drying rack’ and is simply an alternative to using a conventional air-dryer or hanging your clothes on a clothesline. These typically consist of a wire rack, designed to fold into a square for convenient storage and to extend when unfolded for hanging your wet clothes on to dry.

While they are effective, the design can make the balance of the rack a little precarious, as the top includes two racks that fold outward, making the unfolded rack look like a large letter ‘T’. Clothes must be placed on both of the unfolded racks to balance the clothes airer, and this is where your cat comes in.

From your cat’s perspective, someone has created a ‘fabric tree’ for them, with bits of cloth that move around tantalizingly in the wind. Some cats even know that pulling on either side without enough force will bring the whole thing down and that you will come running.

Cats love batting at fabric and they love having your complete attention, which unfortunately means that your clothes airer is likely to become your cat’s new favorite toy!

What can a cat do to a clothes airer?

If you were a cat, then the clothes airer would be an endless source of amusement for several good reasons. First off, the clothes that are hanging down, especially things like sleeves, sashes, and socks, are wont to move if placed on a windy porch and these are fun to bat at.

Even if it’s inside, those items are still dangling, and this makes them fun to creep up on, smack, and even knock down from time to time. That’s not the only fun to be had, however, as cats quickly notice that clothes airing racks are quite easy to knockdown.

This can be a huge source of frustration for owners who later find their clothes airer and clothing on the floor, while the cat sits nearby pretending that they weren’t involved and daring you to say otherwise! Even when your clothes dry out, there is still another way that your cat can mess with the clothes airer.

By jumping on top of the airer, your cat can treat it as its jungle gym. While some cats just enjoy laying on the soft, now-dry clothing, others like to prowl around and see if they can ‘walk the bars’. Let’s face it – if you’re a cat, the clothes airer is a blast!

How can I cat proof a clothes airer?

Now that we know that your cat ‘has it in’ for the clothes drier, it is a good idea to create a strategy to defend it from bored kitties. There are a few common-sense methods that you can use to do this, so let’s see the easiest tricks you can use to thwart your cat’s nefarious plans!

Mount it on the wall

While those folding clothes airers are convenient, they are easy to knock over both for you and your kitty and they take up a lot of space. Consider instead mounting some drying racks to the wall. There are several available modules for this in different styles and they not only work, but you can mount them strategically.

Putting the rack somewhere that your cat can’t easily jump and in a place high enough that the clothing won’t dangle close enough to be reached will keep your kitty out.

You can also get a clothesline designed for indoor use, that has 2 mounts that go on your wall and a retractable line that can be put away when it’s not in use.

Peg the clothes onto the airer

Clothe pegs in a plastic container outdoors.

Clothe pegs in a plastic container outdoors.

One of the best options is a simple one – clothespins. Clothespins can help in two ways, with the first being that they will secure the clothing into place so that your cat has a harder time pulling them to the floor.

Secondly, they can make the airer a little bit safer for your cat. Some kitties can manage to access the airer no matter what we do, but this is a precarious perch for them and they could easily slip between the bars and hurt themselves.

By pinning the clothes in place, you’ve got a compromise of sorts, that essentially says ‘I know that you’ll be napping here, kitty, but at least I can worry a little less about your safety’.

Shut the door where the airer is located

Blocking access to the clothes drier completely is possibly the only 100% certain option when it comes to playing ‘keep-away’ with a cat. While care must be taken using the door to avoid any sneaky kitties getting locked inside, if you keep a sharp eye out for this then simply closing the door can keep the clothes airer off-limits.

Offer an alternative

Cats like the warm and soft cloth from your newly cleaned and mostly-dry clothes that are on the airer. You can offer to keep them away from those clothes by giving them a better option. Take an old, but clean towel or a small blanket, and place it nearby as an alternative.

If your kitty doesn’t take the bait, then raise the stakes, by putting a heating pad in the blanket on a low setting so that your kitty will be tempted to lay there instead. Whenever you want to hang clothes, turn on the pad, and with a little luck, your cat will be happy with this arrangement.

The reason that they are there is that the spot is comfortable, fun, and isolated, so giving your cat an alternative spot in the same area is a very effective option.

Is an outdoor drying rack better for cats?

Outdoor drying racks are certainly an option and might well keep your kitty away, but you want to make sure that this doesn’t start any new problems. For one thing, if your cat already likes the clothes airer, they might simply play with it outside if they are an indoor; outdoor kitty.

You also want to make sure that you have an overhang, to keep your clothes safe from birds or debris, and that the wind isn’t going to blow on your clothing hard enough to knock it over.

Pinning can help to keep the clothes from falling, but if the wind is high then make sure your outdoor rack is well balanced and a little weighty for best results.

Where is the best place to locate a clothes airer?

Aside from wall-mounted options, the best place to put a clothes airer is somewhere that you can isolate it from your cat in the first place. If this is not possible, then put it in an area that you are frequently going to be in, so that you can just keep an eye on it.

Get creative with the placement and you might even consider putting a kitty tower nearby with some built-in toys as a compromise to keep them away from your drying clothes.

Is a tumble dryer better than a clothes airer for cat owners?

They can be, provided that you do not leave the clothes drier open for long periods. If there is one thing that cats like more than sleeping in a big pile of soft, clean, and dry clothes, it’s sleeping on warm, clean clothes – so you might just be trading problems.

As long as you keep the door closed on the dryer so that your cat can’t simply jump inside, then this is the best option. It will dry your clothing faster and the shut door will keep your cat from nestling into your freshly cleaned and dried clothes.

Lindsey Browlingdon