The Latest Why Cat Kitty Hacks: Vertical Space Edition

Good morning folks! If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that we’ve just moved across the country. And with moving comes a uniquely guilt-free opportunity to completely revamp and refresh our lives, as we did with our kitty litter box sitch last week.

This is part two of my moving series, documenting all the changes, good and bad, that have occurred in our journey to become proper Seattl-ites.



Building a new kitty kingdom

I have to admit, one of the very first things I did after we set down our suitcases in our airbnb was order a cat tree. We gave our old tree to a friend in NYC, whose kitties are enjoying the crap out of it as we speak (yay for upcycling!).


New Yorkers Brownie & Sweet Dee, having a vertical-space-gasm:

Brownie & Sweet Dee

Brownie cat

Oof. My heart. <3


When the time came for them to haul the tree away, Sita did not take it well. She planted herself squarely on its dismantled pieces, refusing to dismount even as it was being carried out the door. I had to individually extract her sharp little dragon claws from its surface. After it was gone, she wandered the apartment aimlessly, howling sad little kitty howls, as my heart shattered into sad little human pieces.

So, naturally, before our bags were even unpacked in Seattle, I hunkered down at my laptop and ordered her a new one. This is the model I ended up choosing:

68 penn plax cat tree

68″ Penn Plax cat tree

You can explore the wonderful world of cat vertical space here, in my awesome guide.


In my book, it was nearly perfect. I prefer taller trees, since cats like to feel (however incorrect they may be) like they can escape out of your pesky reach, should they be having a mood. You know the one.

This one is just shy of 6 feet. I also liked the modern grey and navy color scheme, and the kitty-face cubby hole that made for some awesome photo ops:



Like I said, nearly perfect! One major flaw I noticed was the accessibility of the upper shelves for the less-than-dexterous fur loaves in our household, *cough* Pippin.

When choosing a cat tree, I always check for an obvious staggered pathway to the upper platforms. Kitties—while enviably nimble—are not monkeys. If the climbing route to the upper levels isn’t easily navigated, many cats will give up entirely. And then what’s the point of having the tree to begin with? So if you find that your cat (or one of your cats) isn’t fond of their tree, accessibility may be an issue.

I liked the tree enough to try a workaround, which turned out pretty swell. Here’s how it went down:


Adding a platform to your cat tree

This is a lot simpler to do than it might sound, since we didn’t have any power tools and preferred not to drill holes willy nilly into our brand new tree.

First, we figured out exactly where an extra platform would make the most sense. Since there was barely a 3-inch ledge outside the cat-face cubby hole with no other step to access the upper platforms, this one seemed fairly obvious.

plywoodOff to Home Depot! Did you know that in Home Depot’s lumber department, you can almost always find scrap plywood in a pile at a 75%-off discount? After sifting around for a large-enough piece, we asked them to trim it down to our prerecorded measurements (for free!). The perfectly-sized piece ended up costing us about $3, with a bit of scrap plywood to spare.


While you’re there, pick up a few 1″ or 2″ C-clamps (~$2 each), which look like this:

husky clamp

They’re not all red… mine were black!

And, if you’d like, a glue gun or some spray-on adhesive. I say “if you’d like,” because any non-toxic adhesive will work in this situation, especially since you’ll be clamping the whole thing down anyway. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

borris door matIf you recall in my litter box post, I trimmed down an IKEA door mat to fit an IKEA recycling bin, which acted as a litter-scatter catcher outside my cats’ litter box. I still had about half the door mat left, which was perfect to line the plywood with. If you have spare carpet squares or a thin rug, that works too.



I used spray-on adhesive to affix the door mat to the piece of plywood, and then securely clamped the plywood onto the ledge of the tree with the C-clamps:

20160426_151629                20160426_151545

It might not look it, but this thing is super secure. We rattled the hell out of it and it stayed firmly in place. The best part is, it’s completely reversible. If you change your mind, or want to move the platform elsewhere, you can.

And no holes!




Here’s the final product:





Ah, yes. A cat tree that even Pip can manage.

The fur burgers are loving it. They’ve gone from clawing and scratching their way up the side of the tree (good for upper body strength, not so much for kitty frustration levels) to scampering easily up and down in rousing games of tag. Success!


Creating a mini cat superhighway

Since (for the time being) we are still renting, I am told I cannot go drilling holes into the walls and mounting any epic cat-quariums. Bummer. So in the meantime, I’ll just have to make do.

We placed the tree on one side of our living room window, and my cats’ favorite infinity lounger on the other end, perched on top of a mini tv table ($14.99 at IKEA). The kitties love running along the windowsill to either “island.”

They’re like kids… the floor is lava, after all.


If you don’t have a windowsill in your home and don’t want to mount a cat perch, this is a pretty sweet alternative. I’m always for workarounds that don’t involve any drilling. :]


Vertical space isn’t complicated, and it certainly doesn’t have to be expensive. But no matter your space or budget, it’s a definite must-have if you’re a cat owner. No fancy cat trees required, either—just push a bench or an armchair up against a window. Or line an old bookshelf with non-slip cat beds and carpeting (or in my case, a padded kitty heating pad):

cat bookshelf pad

I swapped the placement of the pad and the books after this photo was taken – now the cats can walk directly from the credenza (to the right) onto the padded shelf.


Stock your cat kingdom with more essentials: Top 10 Must-Have Cat Things

Or DIY hack your existing vertical space without dropping a load of cash


Got any of your own vertical space solutions to share? I’d love to hear it!


And stay tuned next week for the final post in our relocation series: How to move (or travel) with your cats!




(New content goes up about once a month!)



  1. Michelle says:

    fur loaves and fur burgers! hahaha!

    1. Why Cat Why says:


      Food names are my favorite nicknames.

  2. Ellen Pilch says:

    Excellent post. Vertical space is so important. With 13 cats, we have a lot of cat trees/poles.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      So true. Your place sounds like cat heaven!!

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