|Mitchell on the left and Cashmere on the right|
We'd installed the top shelf a few years ago to house our projector, but since we upgraded our TV we never use it, so mostly that shelf (and the projector) were just collecting dust. So, we cleaned it off, got a few 10x12in boards from Home Depot, spray painted them a cheery color, and hung 'em up!
I thought it was going to take at least a week or two for the cats to get used to them and use them regularly, but the next day Cashmere was running up and down like a champ. We used treats to coax them up there and teach them what to do, but it really only took a couple of tries. Plus Cash's favorite game is fetch, so she's thrilled to dart up and down after a toy (I really need to get a video of this. It's adorable and amusing!). Just beware if you're sitting on the couch underneath because she may drop the toy on you!
Mitchell isn't quite as sure about the new play area as Cash is. The first shelf is a bit of an odd angle, so it's a difficult jump (poor Mr. T received several scalp scratches when Cash accidentally landed on his head on her way down), and he's much bigger and not quite as agile as the kitten, so it's more difficult for him. But he's getting it. Also, Cash is a possessive bully and it's clear he's nervous about entering what she's claimed as her territory. The other night she was up there and Mitch tried to join her and she wopped him on the head! When we're home, we've been trying to manually rotate them in the hopes that they'll treat it as a joint space. Must be working a little...
|Mitch looks deer in the headlights and Cash is clearly plotting our demise...|
If you want to do something like this in your home, my main suggestion is to check the maximum weight the shelf supports can hold. Most should be fine, and our steps are small enough that only one cat can fit, but I still made sure they can bear the weight of both of them at once just in case. The supports on the yellow shelves were 50 cents each at Ikea and, paired with long screws, seem to be holding up to all the jumping just fine. Also, we experimented with gluing small carpet samples on the yellow shelves. The purpose was two-fold: 1) add some intrigue and give them something to scratch and 2) provide some traction and calm my nerves that the cats would slide right off the shelf, but it failed. Mitchell was just tearing it up and eating it, so we took it off.
Overall, it's a been a great area for them with minimum investment (time or money-wise) on our part. Win-win!