Sunday, October 27, 2013

Adding steps for old cats

Cricket and Ivan are getting up there in years, but neither one is content to remain on the floor. Ivan insist he will sleep with me. Cricket insists she will go wherever she went when she was a kitten, despite the fact that she's missing a leg and her remaining back leg is full of arthritis.

Both have hit the floor unexpectedly multiple times.

A long while ago I added steps to the bow window where their cat food was (once) kept safely from the dog. Of course, the dog can climb the steps as easily as the cats, so there's no real benefit to having the food elevated, but habit is habit, so there you go.

Plastic steps cost money, however, and really aren't that attractive. Cricket is good at latching her front claws into anything and hauling herself up. But when Ivan leaps and misses, he just plain...misses...and topples back over to the hard floor.

So I've learned to improvise. I have two antique suitcases--one confirmed to have been made by my grandfather and used when he and my grandmother came over from Germany, and a larger trunk that is enough alike as to be it's twin, which I found in an antique store in Geneva where they once lived. The antique guy would say only that he got it "at a recent estate sale" and refused to say where or when. So the low suitcase and the taller chest now make an attractive step-up to the chaise and the window seat. They also hold my wrapping paper and small gifts I find over the course of the year and save for Christmas.

Ivan has slept by my chest every single day and only rarely chooses another spot. The bed is far too high for him to make a successful leap from the floor, so I paid something like five bucks for a pink ottoman, recovered it in some tapestry fabric I found at a sale for a buck (many many yards of it...of cats), and set it beside the bed. Problem solved, and no unsightly cat steps. However steps or an additional step-up may be needed down the road if he gets even more feeble.

I constantly keep my eyes out at garage sales and on Craigslist for small, attractive items I might use for a combination step-up and side stand. Small ottomans (which are often antique/vintage) are often as pricey as brand-new cat steps, but sometimes people just want them gone, and don't realize what they are selling for $5 someone else might sell for $30-50. However, most of the ottomans on Craigslist are the great big huge ones that are the same height as the couch or chair they originally accompanied, and aren't suitable as a step-up.

I have found that ramps, unless they are not very steep at all, don't work so well for feeble cats. I'm going to have to replace the ramp up to the window that goes to the catio with handmade steps. Ivan and Cricket both insist on using the ramp and find it very difficult to hitch themselves up. I added small wood strips to give them something to get additional purchase on, and to keep them from sliding down headfirst when they leave the catio, but it's still pretty difficult for them to haul their way up the incline.

Has anyone here come up with inventive ways to get their oldsters where they wish to go?


  1. We also made a ramp up to our bed for our kitty, Pie. We attached a piece of carpeting to the wood to give her traction. She never had any problems & used it for years. She is no longer with us but the ramp is now being used by my mom's kitty who severely arthritic in both back legs. She's had no issues with it either. Maybe the piece of carpet is the key.

  2. I also used to improvise with suitcases and miscellaneous furniture, just as you have.

  3. I have also used suitcases and such to make access easier for my older ones. Then when you don't need them anymore - poof! Storage!