Cats love to be high up, as anyone who’s had a cat knock something off a tall shelf, or caught their kitty up on a counter top knows all too well. But many cat-loving homeowners are starting to incorporate their feline friends’ love of high places into the design and layout of their houses. Integrated cat perches, decorative cat walks, and even full kitty playgrounds mounted at near-ceiling height are becoming increasingly common and popular in multi-cat homes. If you like the idea of making your home more cat friendly without sacrificing much or any spare space, we’ve got a few ideas to get you started.
Usually adding a high perch for your cat means something pretty simple, like buying and setting up a basic cat tree. But conventional carpet-and-sisal covered cat palaces, while they’re great for cats, aren’t exactly the hottest decor items of the season, and can even be a downright eyesore. But it is possible to find a happy medium between what your cat likes and needs and what will look good in your home. One way is to think of cat perches as artwork. Rather than setting up a single large unit, take a more minimalist approach, and hang sisal and carpet-covered wood shelves in a pattern on the wall.
The result here is twofold: not only does a wall mounted cat perch have a much smaller footprint than most conventional pet furniture, it also allows your cats to climb higher up without adding extra bulk. A few asymmetrically placed shelves can allow your cats to get up to and above the level of your doors, rather than being limited to about head height. You just want to make sure the shelves and perches you use are securely fastened to the wall with mounting brackets that are hefty enough to support the weight of one or more cats, as well as the force of a cat jumping from one to the next.
Done right, though, these installations can be quite attractive, with unique, abstract, or repeating shapes and textures that are visually interesting. A series of sisal-wrapped shelves (like these stacked scratcher/lounges) create a nice modern display that just happens to be quite cat friendly. Keep in mind, though, that anything wrapped in rope will almost definitely get scratched up, so it won’t stay looking quite so pristine or perfectly symmetrical once your cat gets her claws into it.
Simpler cat perches, particularly long, narrow shelves installed very close to the ceiling, can be installed more subtly. Here, a few simple shelves are cleverly staggered and arranged so that they’re close enough together to be easily climbable, and lead to a nice, cozy recessed space above the closet. At a glance, the shelves are fairly ordinary, but their arrangement makes them extremely cat friendly. Again, though, you want to make sure these shelves are able to support your cat’s weight, particularly if they’re going to be installed anywhere near expensive electronics.
Some homeowners are going even a step farther, running planks, beams, shelves, and narrow walkways across and between rooms, up and down stairs, and even through walls so that their cats can travel through the entire house on their own private cat walks. This is, of course, a fairly major design choice in terms of planning, but one that can range from fairly subtle (if you use simple, basic shelves) to incredibly elaborate (if you want to get creative with built in cat houses, ramps, stairs, and so on) depending on your preference.
Finally, if you live in a warm climate, you can even extend these cat play areas outdoors. Small duct-like enclosures with mesh sides allow your indoor cat to get a little fresh air and sunshine without danger of them getting loose or running wild. In the outdoor area above, the cat enclosure leads from the house out into a closed garden where the cats can move and play freely. Running a similar enclosure along the railing of a fence is a slightly more common option that requires less dedicated space, but still allows your cat to sit up high and soak in a little afternoon sun.
What kind of cat walk, shelf, or enclosure are you considering building? Let me know in the comments below!