The Best Clutter

two cats looking out through a doorway

In the video called My Furniture-Free Minimalist Apartment Tour, I was charmed by Youheum Son, an extreme minimalist. I could listen to her soothing voice for hours, but it was the hope of seeing more of her cat, Boru, that kept me glued to my screen. I scrolled through many of her other videos, wondering, “Is Boru in this one?”

Here is a woman who has eliminated possessions to the point of no furniture, yet she has a cat. A kitty litter box. Plants for the cat to eat. And furniture for the cat! As she should be, Boru is clearly adored.

Welcoming two cats into our home (adopted on a whim, sometimes my best decisions are my impulsive ones) brought all sorts of glorious clutter. We have toys and beds, litter and food bowls, bags of treats and brushes. The previous owners even gave us a cat tree. It was so big, it had to be taken apart to fit in a pick-up truck. What was I thinking? Filling the house with more, when I bask in the joy of less? I was thinking, more of the important things. Decluttering, or minimalism, is about making room for the right things.


Our previous cat died a few years ago, and I couldn’t imagine loving a pet the way I’d loved her. I dog-sat occasionally and read (through tears) bios of senior rescue dogs who needed more time than I could give them. I work full time and was travelling so often, it seemed unfair to bring a companion home, only to abandon it for days every month. I cut back on travel for financial, then climate-crisis reasons and along the way, it became time to love new pets in new ways. We’ve had the cats about six months now, and still spend every single day amazed at the joy they bring us.

please… belly rubs?

Where did we put the cat tree? In the tiny living room, where a chair used to be jammed next to the couch. I’d cleared the room of excess a couple of years ago though – the polka dot chair (where Meeko jumps up to have his belly rubbed now) moved to the other side of the room, leaving an empty corner.

I didn’t know I was making space for a cat tree.

My morning meditation used to be outdoors, and somewhat brief (non-existent?) in the snow. Rookie and Meeko are indoor cats, and protested my morning exit, so I now sit by the back door with them. We look at trees and sky and leaves and birds and squirrels, and the distractions I face are purrs and floofy paws. I’m always smiling as I return to my breath.

As you declutter your life, you may be following Marie Kondo’s advice and be guided by a vision of how you will live in your tidy space. Or, you may not know what you’re making space for, and that’s okay too. It will show up one day and ask you to rub its belly.

cat getting a belly rub

2 thoughts on “The Best Clutter

  1. This made me smile so much, Karen, and the photos are just gorgeous. We, too, have a cat who brings us so much joy but, man, what a lot of paraphernalia she has – toys, tunnels, treats etc. Not to mention every bed, sofa and armchair in the house belong to her. Wouldn’t have it any other way, though.

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