Vertical space: things that have helped with the peace process
I have said before that I wish I had a little more space for the kittehs so they wouldn’t feel like they’re in each others’ faces quite so much, but I have made some strides in this area by incorporating vertical space in my apartment. For cats, vertical space is more important than horizontal space. They like to survey from on high, hide away in cubbies, and explore. So today we’ll talk about our cat furniture!
I have three cat trees, the cardboard house of awesome, and shelves that I built on the wall (that I intend on adding to). I’m thinking of making a how-to for making the shelves, as I’ve had people ask me. They’re simple enough, and since I’m going to add to them anyway, why not?
All of the kittehs have partaken in the wall shelves at various stages; right now they are Deidre territory, prior to that they were Yuan territory, prior to that they were Maggie territory. It’s amazing the recycling of territories my cats do.
The cardboard house of awesome is four levels on the inside, five if you count the top of the roof, with lots of windows and peek-a-boo holes for kittehs to observe and play in. It was at first Deidre territory, and now it’s Yuan territory. Maggie is claustrophobic I think, as even with catnip and treats, she’d at most jump in to get the treat and then run right back out. She hates carriers too for the same reason. She also won’t go in a litter box that is too sheltered – no covered boxes for her!
Our very first cat tree, the brown one, has gotten lots of love over the years and is still going strong (Doctors Foster and Smith FTW!). Side note: I do not have any endorsement deals with them, I just love their products. 🙂
Our second cat tree, also from Drs. Foster & Smith, is the floor-to-ceiling one that Yuan is fond of launching on and off of at high speeds. Able to make it on top of the cubby in a single bound! It’s… Suuuuuuuper Yuan!
Below is a picture of my neighbor’s cat having fun climbing the cat tree all the way to the ceiling. She was actually the first kitty to do so! Now Yuan does it all the time. Deidre stops at the cubby, and Maggie stops at the shelves. If I could add anything to this cat tree, it would be a shelf near the top. I suppose I could try re-arranging the setup and see if it works, but it took three tries (and re-ordering of missing/broken parts) to put it together the first time, so I am loathe to undo it again. 😉
But don’t worry, my kittehs love this cat tree too (and for the record, at first Deidre and Maggie had it divided in half: Deidre had the cubby and the lower scratching post, Maggie had the two shelves; then Yuan came into the family and staked his claim on the whole thing; now Yuan is still all over it but Maggie has reasserted her right to chill on the shelves. I haven’t seen Deidre on it in a while).
Finally we have the stair-stepper green cat tree, which I bought with the idea in mind that Deidre has a bit of a time jumping onto my bed; it’s as high as it will go on the frame, and she is twelve years old. She can do it, but she lands on the corner and then scrambles the rest of the way up. I bought this one for the spiral stairs aspect, figuring that she could climb up the stairs to get onto the bed instead of making that leap all the time. At first, she would chill in the cup at the top but didn’t use the stairs to get onto the bed at all. Then Yuan started sharing use of the cup, then I did a bit of rearranging and now it sits right in front of the homemade wall shelves, and viola! Deidre uses the stairs (and one of the wall shelves) to climb on the bed now. So does Maggie. But it’s mostly Deidre on it now, both in the cup, on the stairs, and hiding under the stairs when I’ve got company or her brother is too close for comfort.
All of this cat furniture has allowed my trio to stake their (ever-changing) claims on territory and have a little more space, more places to nap, hide, play, scratch… oh yeah, and scratching? They don’t claw my furniture, either (not that I have nice furniture). But they’ve got scratchers everywhere (plus a few horizontal cardboard scratchers and one horizontal sisal scratcher), so they pretty much leave my other furniture alone (the one exception is that if it’s exposed, i.e., no sheets on it, Deidre looooves to scratch on my bed mattress. Which is no big deal, as it’s not expensive either). The other bonus to this is I don’t have to trim their claws because they take care of it themselves (I do find shed sheaths here and there periodically), except Maggie did get her back claws trimmed at her recent groomer trip (she’s my declawed one, remember, so it’s not so easy for her).
You may be thinking that you don’t have space for all this cat furniture. I don’t have much in the way of space either – my one-bedroom apartment is somewhere around 630 square feet, which while more space than some of you probably have, isn’t as big as a lot of people’s living spaces (I have the smallest home of any of my family or friends). First, I go on the thought that this is the kittehs’ home too. This is not my home and they are just guests; this is our home and they are family; they deserve to have their needs taken care of, and that means their own spaces. I don’t need every inch of space devoted to me and my needs. Second, there are plenty of small-space options, such as the wall shelves (you can also buy pre-made wall shelves and window perches and the like if you’re not crafty). Plus when mounting to walls, as long as you give them a path up, you can do catwalks near the ceiling and then it hardly is taking up any human-level wall space at all (I want to do this some day. Small steps! Wider shelves to accommodate fluffy kitties and sprawling out, as well as more cubbies for Yuan (he LOVES cubbies – the yang to Maggie’s yin) come first). And finally, if you can only fit one cat tree, I recommend a floor-to-ceiling (or something close) number like the cream-colored one I have, so that you get more levels and cubbies for your square footage allowance. They are built to accommodate varying ceiling heights, and if you’ve got really high ceilings, you can get additional scratcher poles to make it even taller (my ceilings are pretty darn low, so I actually had to get the pole that comes out the top to brace it against the ceiling cut. It was no big deal, I went to Ace Hardware down the block and they took care of it nicely!).