Cats love climbing, and if you’ve looked into your cat’s needs, you’ve probably come across recommendations to give them more vertical space. This makes sense, as cats like climbing – and you don’t really need the space in your home you can’t even reach with both arms outstretched. So you need to get a cat tree, a few shelves, a little wall perch or hammock, and let’s build this cat climbing wall! I would like to show you what we came up with for our cats.
We have a fairly large living room with a desk on one end and a sofa on the other. Above the sofa we had nothing but a white wall (without any posters or artwork), so this was the perfect place to “catify”.
I did a long Google image search for pictures of cat trees and wall perches, cat hammocks and cat shelves, just to find out what was available. I’m very picky and I feel it’s not just important that my cat likes its furniture, I have to like it as well. We have a small cat tree (by AniOne, you can see it on the left in the picture) and I figured, maybe we can add a second bigger tree. I don’t like all the fuzzy, plush designs very much, but I do like tree-like cat scratching posts* like the ones that had started appearing in Germany. They are very expensive, though, and also a bit too large to fit behind my sofa.
What I found in all those Google images were many designs that just consisted of simple shelves attached to the wall. Obviously the great advantage is that this doesn’t eat up your floorspace. So I did some planning of what I would like: a comfortable perch for two cats, and two shelves to help my cats get up and down from the perch via our sofa.
I already did this at the end of 2015 and I couldn’t find anything I really liked online. However, in a cat forum I frequented at the time, I found out about a company called Drapaki Rufi. They’re in Poland and they had very pretty designs that weren’t kitschy at all.
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I particularly like their wall lairs. So I picked something nice (it was EUR 65.- plus EUR 15.- shipping, so roughly $90) and I ordered it. Meanwhile you can find very similar furniture at places like Amazon (like this floating wall perch* and this pretty wall shelf*), but as I said, in 2015, I couldn’t find anything I liked – except in Poland.
At any rate, I liked what the Polish company had to offer, so I ordered there. The package came very well wrapped.
Additionally to the hammock, I wanted the cats to have a way to get up there, a home-made catwalk, basically. This is why we bought two Persby shelves at Ikea. (Ikea says it can hold 11 to 33 lbs (5-15kg) depending on the wall and way of mounting.) I thought about this for a long time, as the internet couldn’t agree on how safe they were. Some said you can’t go wrong with Ikea shelves, they’d never had any problems. Others said a cheap shelf would never hold and to please not endanger your cats. I decided I’d give it a try, because I love the Persby design of a shelf just hovering on the wall without any support brackets.
To mount the shelves on the wall, I invited my friend and asked her to bring her hammer drill. We attached the hammock perch with four 8mm wall anchors (or dowels, or wall plugs, or whatever you want to call them). Our wall was resistant at first, but we finally managed to attach the anchors and the shelf looked very stable. It’s been up there since December of 2015 without any problems and it’s very stable, even if both cats lie on it at the same time. (So it survives 25 lbs.)
Then we added the Ikea shelves. If you’ve ever been to Ikea, maybe you’ve seen their boxes of wall anchors available for cheap. We had a few of those left from some earlier project, so we merrily started drilling. Once we had all the anchor screws fixed, Wrex was summoned to try out stability – and the whole shelf crashed to the ground, following gravity. As did the cat, but luckily he managed to jump on the sofa as he was falling.
But alright, we learn from our mistakes, so I went to the hardware store around the corner and bought some 10 mm wall anchors* with fitting screws. If you compare the expensive wall anchors with the cheap Ikea ones, I think you’ll understand why it’s worth it investing in good anchors – especially if you want to protect your cats from falling.
Next we started the whole process again, but unfortunately the shelf was slightly damanged. We attached it again anyway and now it’s been on the wall since 2015 with four out of six possible wall anchors. It does make a noise when the cat jumps on it, though. But this at least will give you some advanced warning if a cat is coming at you from above.
Another thing you can do is stick bits of carpet or sisal rope or a sisal mat* to the shelf. I had a leftover piece of carpet that I attached with double-sided tape, but unfortunately it had some form of rubber coating that eventually came off along with the carpet. It didn’t seem like the cat spent more time on the carpeted shelf anyway, though, so I didn’t bother to re-attach it. It might be an idea to attach a sisal mat with a staple gun, but I think Persby shelves are hollow on the inside so I didn’t want to do that either.
As it turned out, our sofa cushions are fairly soft and make it hard for the cats to push themselves off. However, after a few weeks they found the perfect spots of the sofa that will let them get to the shelves and they don’t have an issue with it anymore. We eventually added a sisal mat (which is actually a sisal carpet) to the wall to make it possible for the cats to climb up. Garrus can climb it up effortlessly, but he doesn’t really use it very much and in terms of sharpening his claws, he still prefers his small cat tree.
Here you can see the carpet we attached:
The cats seem to like it up there, although as with any other furniture we got for them, their interest comes and goes. Sometimes they’ll sit up there together all the time, at other times they prefer their basket on the radiator (see also: Things for cats) or sit on the backrest of our couch. Either way, it’s nice to be able to give them a space to climb and enjoy vertical space, and I definitely recommend you also attach a few shelves or perches to your wall.
As the internet has a sheer limitless selection of different shelves, your imagination is the limit – build your own cat climbing wall exactly as you like it. My experience with Drapaki was very positive and I’m very pleased with how good the hammock still looks after all those years. I’m also pleased with the quality of our Ikea shelves. I hope I could give you some inspiration for your own cat walls, cat walks and cat adventure parks!
By the way, our sisal carpet was also bought at Ikea, but you can find sisal carpets in all sorts of sizes at Amazon* for very affordable prices. I imagine my design would be better if the carpet reached higher than the shelf so the cat could jump off the carpet onto the shelf. If you have any experience in this field, I’d love to hear from you. I’m also super interested in any pictures of cat walks and climbing walls you might have.
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