If you live with one or more cats, you know that these elusive feline companions love to lounge in strange, high places. On top of your dresser, refrigerator, closet shelves, and even sometimes along the top of open doors. It’s amazing how many bizarre positions they can seem comfortable in simply to gain the best possible overlook position of their favorite rooms. Building a catwalk shelf might just be their next favorite place to roam.
Cats seek high places because of their strategic value and there’s nothing a kitty enjoys more than the ability to walk around above the heads of mere humans and other pets. This is one of the reasons why many cat owners find a great deal of joy in building special shelves for their cats to prowl, lounge, and play on. Whether you already have a catwalk shelf or two up or you’re just starting to think about how cool it would be, we have a few fun tips that can transform simple shelves into a delightful over-the-head catscape.
Catwalk Shelf 101
Before you get creative, let’s cover the basics. A catwalk shelf is essentially just a long narrow shelf that your cat can play on. They can be made of anything strong enough to hold a cat’s weight as long as you remember that cats can get pretty big. Each shelf needs to be firmly secured to the wall, supported all the way across with an actual shelf support bracket or wooden piece. Don’t just nail up boards, as these might not be stable and safe for your pet. The simplest way to make catwalks us to use 2x4s and shelf support brackets wrapped in pieces of spare carpet but the more effort you put in, the nicer your final shelves will be.
Building Catwalk Pathways
Almost anyone can put up a single catwalk shelf, but true artistry comes from understanding the paths your cat will take and how the shelves will work with the design of your rooms. Most catwalks run along near the ceiling of rooms, keeping them out of people’s space but delightfully in view. Your first creative goal is to think about how your kitty is going to get up there. The usual way is to build a stairway or sequence of slightly higher platforms along one section of wall. Decide where the mounting point are, the design of the rising platforms, and how your cat will get up and down from the catwalks.
Carpet and Clear Walks
Most catwalks are carpeted, giving your kitties a nearly infinite amount of surfaces to sharpen their claws on, but carpet isn’t the only way to go. One fun way to mix up your catwalk is to make some sections out of sturdy clear plastic instead. This will allow you to watch your cats traverse the catwalks. Clear plastic is also a fun way to make lounging and mounted toy platforms so you can see your cats stop to sleep or play from below.
Built-In Toy Platforms
Of course, not every pathway and platform is purely for traversing and sleeping. An incredibly amusing and doubly entertaining installation is to build toys directly into your catwalk infrastructure. Where the platforms rise, you can hang dangling feathers and bells from higher platforms. Spring-mounted toys will bobble back and forth when mounted to anything and round sections around corners can be built with tracks that hold dingle balls that will roll and jingle back and forth when batted by your kitties.
Pathing Through Walls
Just because you have to go around walls doesn’t mean your cats do. If you’re a little more handy with carpentry, you can choose a few safe places to cut a hole in interior walls and build a catwalk straight through. This creates a great whimsical effect where your cats can move eerily between spaces faster than it seems possible, unless you notice the catwalk doorways. You can mask these doors with cubbies or make them obvious by highlighting them.
Lighting the Path with EL Wire
For an extra kick, if you like a little DIY wiring fun, EL wire is a no-heat way to add soft lines of colored lighting to almost anything. One small battery or connection to a wall outlet can power yards of colored light-up wire that you can use to line the walks. These can be turned off to make your walks more subtle or turned on to create a beautiful dynamic new form of room decor. You can even pick your light colors to match the interior design of each room or color-code your catwalks as the territory of individual kitties in your home.
Catwalks are by far one of the most fun projects you can do for your cat that will create hours of amusement not only for your cats, but also for you, family, and guests who are haunted by the sleepy prowling overwatch of your feline family members.