I have a fairly small house (OK, it's really small). Not an apartment, but still very small. I also have a cat, who loves exploring every bit of my small house. He loves the basement.

The basement is unfinished, so it has a lot of stuff just laying around until I could put things on shelves. The shelves, however, are also just laying around, they also have things on them.

Important things: as you may have already noticed, this is a recipe for disaster. Cat jumps on a shelf, important breakable stuff falls down, breakable stuff breaks. This makes the cat happy, but me - not so much.

My cat has loads of things to lay on upstairs, including a large cat post positioned in front of the living room windows, an arsenal of cardboard boxes strategically placed on shelves and desks, and couches, chairs, and beds. However, downstairs is a cat paradise.

Shelves and other things are in abstract positions, loads of raised up places to lay (with unsafe ones now blocked off), and, of course, drum roll please - the nice warm vibrating top of our front load dryer.

The only problem with this is that he has only the small upstairs to adventure in when contractors are here - which is quite frequent as I am trying to get my basement finished. I don't want my cat going downstairs while, or even after, the contractors are here.

The reason I don't want him going down after the contractors are here is because there is loads of wood, power tools, boxes of nails, screws, other sharp and dangerous miscellaneous items - or, at least, there is until I clean the basement.

We all know the saying "curiosity killed the cat". How do I increase the space he has upstairs so he doesn't want to go downstairs to sleep and play?

Am I coming at it from the right direction, or is there some other way I should be handling this problem?

Either way, I would like him to have more space upstairs, because even with the cat post and cardboard boxes, he still doesn't really have much. I don't really want to pay to much money on this, as I need some money for finishing my basement too. What are some ways of doing this? I want a good long-term solution.

Also, I forgot to mention, my cat is a little overweight, so whatever it is, it needs to be sturdy! Thanks for the help, sorry if I wrote too much.


3 Answers 3


Use vertical space.

Keep breakables out of spaces the cat has access to, behind door or behind glass or at great heights (some cats can jump to the top of a fridge, so that's a minimum). You can train cats that there are surfaces they aren't allowed on but (a) you want to do that without the breakables present, (b) there is no guarantee they will behave when not observed, and (c) if the surface is at all interestingly placed, they are almost guaranteed to try again at some point in the future, to check whether the role is still in force.

Give the cat other things to climb -- a cat tree (good homebrew designs can be found on the web), shelves that they are allowed on, the top of a cabinet with a reasonable route to it either by climbing or jumping or both... Things to crawl under/through are another kind if space.

Give them toys to play with in the available space.

Remember, to a cat, a room is much bigger than for us.

(Reverse-engineering the 8' cat tree I inherited, I figure it's one sheet of plywood, one 8' 2x4 (or a bit more?), one 8' 4x4, four heavy angle brackets, two carpet runners, and screws and glue to assemble it. Not very expensive for something that lets the cats meet me at eye level and/or climb almost to the ceiling.)


Think walls!

Put up shelves all over the place, at different levels.

I know someone who made a cat high-way in the house at about 7 feet. He put up shelves at that height in most of the rooms and made holes above doors to allow unfettered travel. He framed the wholes quite nicely and put trim around them so, while they do get your attention the first time you see them, they don't look bad.

He also put shorter shelves at lower heights. His highway is not continuous. It has one or two breaks on each wall, I guess about 10" wide, to allow entry and exit from the highway to lower shelves.

His wife loves cats as much as he does but she was hesitant about the highway. He promised that if she didn't like it, he'd remove it and put things back to exactly the way they were before it was installed.

He told me that after he got the first sections up and cats were all over them, his wife quickly gave in. Her only question was, "Can we get any Federal Highway development money to help pay for this?"

Check out some of the results of this Google search: https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=wall+mounted+cat+shelves or some ideas.


Shelves and the like have been huge for my cat. I live in a townhouse, and while my cat has plenty of space to roam around, increasing the amount of space for her to play on was one of my first priorities. Mounted or hanging shelves that go directly into the walls can be a cost-effective option (just make sure you install them securely and correctly so they, and your buddy, don't come tumbling down!).

If you don't mind your cat "counter-surfing", that can be a huge help to making more space out of what seems like a smaller area. Make sure that if your cat is a bit bigger, that he can safely hop up on the counter (I've had some luck with making stairs out of old shoe boxes-- spend an afternoon with the hot glue gun and it can be a fun way to make a project out of some stuff you were going to throw away anyway!).

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