Young cats can leap with acrobatic agility. Hello, tops of bookcases, refrigerators and shelves. But, by the time most cats become seniors, their leaping days are over. According to a study from the University of Glasgow, 30% of cats over the age of eight showed signs of osteo-arthritis, the degenerative joint disease. If stiffness and joint pain have set in, your cat may appear to lose interest in a favorite game or jumping onto a perch. Cats are notorious for masking their symptoms for any kind illness, so why wait until you have a diagnosis? Even your cat is healthy; it’s never too early to take steps for joint protection.
When my ones of cats began avoiding a favorite windowsill, I knew it was time for action. Just as we kitten-proof a home of rambunctious and curious young cats, older cats need the same consideration for their safety and comfort.
1) Take a room-by-room tour of your house. Look for places where your cat likes to nap, sit, play, or perch on. Notice where the light shifts during the day for sun “puddles”. You might find some new perching possibilities. It could be chair by sunny window or a bookshelf cleared to make room for a cushion.
2) Take note of places that require a leap of more than 18 inches, like armchairs, sofas, beds, windowsills, desks etc.
3) Make a list of places that need a “leg up” and see what existing furniture can be used to help “make the leap” shorter with small chairs, step-stools, foot stools, crates, turned over wicker baskets, hat boxes or other decorative boxes. Be creative. Be safe. Make sure it’s sturdy and won’t topple over.
4) If you don’t have the right size foot stool like the one in the photo, there are many options for any style decor or budget: mini-stairs or ramps designed specifically for pets, step stools designed for young children and regular pieces of furniture. Visit your local thrift shop. I found a mid-century designer stool worth 200 hundred dollars for $3.00. If you’re are a handy DIY type, it’s easy to make your own kitty stairway to heaven. Make sure the surface isn’t slippery or have any sharp edges.
5) If you have hardwood floors, consider placing small area rugs or decorator cushions at a landing spot. I used a small Persian prayer rug under the step stool to cushion jumps. Pillows are a cat’s best friend. You can never have too many.
All of our cats, even the young wannabe Cirque de Soleil performer, use the step stools. It’s easier, and more comfortable cats are happier cats.