Some of the cat activity centres my customers have for their feline friends are amazing! There are some really creative and stylish ways of making the life of an indoor cat more interesting and now we’re settled in our new home we’ve been looking at something for Lyla and Boop (especially as they’re grounded until we can catio our back garden!).
We didn’t really have the space for a ceiling-high cat tree and found them to be quite pricey too. We also wanted something a bit more permanent – and fancied the challenge! So Mr Whiskers and I decided to set about making our own DIY cat shelves. Ta da!
We chose a corner of our living room that looks out into the garden and gets the most sun, drawing a rough sketch of what we wanted. The shelves were built just above the sofa so our cats can jump off the sofa arms onto the first shelves. Because Lyla spent a year in a cage before we rescued her, she has a bit of trouble jumping sideways – but up is fine. So the most important thing is making sure the shelves were close enough together so she wouldn’t be too scared to try! We also needed the shelves to be quite wide so that if they wanted to turn around they wouldn’t fall off or get stuck (like Boop does on our mantelpiece). We wanted the cushiony parts of the shelves to be removable for easy cleaning and above all – be a really easy project to do – so no priming, undercoats or paint needed!
So first of all – the materials! This is what we used;
- Big pine shelf boards that can be cut into the sizes you want
- MDF strips to support the shelves
- Wood bead 15mmx18mm which is found in the “decorative mouldings” section (e.g.)
- Carpet off-cuts
- Cotton fabric (big enough to cover the bottom of our shelves and wrap round the sides)
- Wall brackets, screws & plugs
- Corner braces
- Junior hacksaw
- Staple Gun
- Stanley knife
- Superglue or wood adhesive
- Pen, pencil, ruler & a rubber (if you’re anything like me for mistakes and changing your mind!)
From the big pine shelf board we measured out four separate shelves then used a general handsaw to cut them to size.
The strips of wood bead are used to create a raised edge or lip on your shelves (to save a few pennies we only put wood beading around the edges that weren’t attached to the wall). Using a junior hacksaw to cut the right sizes, we then just glued these strips to the shelves using a wood adhesive although superglue would work too.
Once the strips were fully attached and the glue had dried we got out our pieces of material and cut them to size. Using the staple gun we attached the material snugly so that it covered the bottom side of the shelf and wrapped round the sides, as neatly as we could! We weren’t too worried about what it looked like on the top of the shelf, as that section will have removable squares of carpet covering the untidy bits. The carpet pieces can easily be removed for cleaning but give the cats something comfortable to sit on, and grip onto while jumping. No sandpaper, primer, undercoat, paint or varnish needed! Hurray!
When cutting the carpet to size, we found using a marker pen on the reverse side and cutting using Stanley the knife worked well.
Once all the four shelves had been made, we marked where we wanted them to be on the wall so they would lead to the top of the bookcase and have even gaps between them. We used our drill to make holes big enough for the plugs to go in to protect the wall, then popped the bracket on, and used a screwdriver to tighten the screws in. We also used a few pieces of MDF we had lying around to support the corner brackets as they’ll receive the most pounce from our two cats. We also used corner braces to secure these tightly.
We thought the cats might be a bit nervous at first, so we left them to figure the shelves out themselves in their own time… and nothing! No interest at all! So we grew impatient, used a bit of treat bribery and with one shake of the dreamies bag – Boop had climbed to the top of the bookcase in seconds. Lyla was a little bit more wary, as we knew she would be. She tends to think that new things are suspicious traps but she was too curious to resist… and when we came downstairs yesterday morning they were both sitting on separate shelves – looking out for breakfast!!
So what do you think??
(The Cat Whiskerer)