Cushioning Joints: 5 Steps to Happier Cats

cats-step stool-bed
Odin on the stool, Gris Gris on the bed and Merlin is the undercover lump.

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.

13 thoughts on “Cushioning Joints: 5 Steps to Happier Cats”

  1. That’s so true. This granny cat can vouch for it. Although I still climb trees, I don’t do it nearly as often, and I hardly get onto the roof tops anymore ::sigh::.

  2. My mommy has steps in here in the computer room so I can come up onto her lap or sit on top for lovins. What a great blog. I am 13 and I’ll be 14 nxt month. Fanks you for coming to see me and helping me not be afraid. xoxoxo

  3. You’re right. We never really thought above it before. Kitties seem so agile and spry! We’ll have to look for a stool as we have 2 seniors here. And it can always be used for a nap!

  4. This is such a considerate post, and full of great advice! I always thought that cats were fairly springy, even in old age. (My grandma’s cat, Toby, is 15 and still leaps up onto the fridge as if it were nothing.) However, you’re right, not all cats are built the same, and that extra consideration can go a long way!

  5. The two youngest of the five of us have reached 10 yrs. the other three are all older. We still climb and jump….so your advice is gonna come in handy – we’ll pass it on to mombean.

    Thanks for stopping by our blog today, a pleasure to meet you!!


  6. Excellent advice. We bought steps for my Sister Gracie since she can’t jump up on the bed due to her injuries from the dog attack.

  7. It’s our mom who needs a bit of help getting up and down on things right now….Hahaha.

    But seriously (we were serious!), good post, great advice.

  8. Very good advice indeed. Your so right about cats masking their pain and discomfort. I keep an eye on Austin as he is very likely to develop osteoarthrtis in his hip because of injury when he was a stray. He doesn’t seem to be remotely bothered at the moment. x

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