Upstairs Hall Cat Platforms – Part 1: Access Steps

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY !!!

I’ve been plotting to build a 2nd cat platform.  The one I built in the dining room window was such a huge success [well, the ramp wasn’t, but the two-tiered platform was!] that I’ve been itching to start constructing another.  I decided the window at the top of the stairs would be perfect, since Darwin already loves to sit on that windowsill, and Bonkers loves when I hold him up [or manually put him up] so he can enjoy the view too.  It’s a great place for them to spy on activity in the shared driveway, watch people walk by on the sidewalk, and chatter at birds in the nearby lilac tree.

hardwood floors in upstairs hall, with darwin in the window        26a

Most of our windows face the river [it’s a hardship, but we manage 😛 ], so the upstairs hall window, even though it’s a side window, is our best vantage point to see what’s going on at the front of the house.  It’s how we know if our driveway’s been plowed, the pizza delivery man has arrived, the trash truck has come, etc.  So, since it’s such a high-use window, I don’t want to completely block it with a cat platform.  It’s also high off the ground – the sill comes up to my chest – so a platform placed on the windowsill [like what I did in the dining room] would make it impossible for me to get close enough to see out.  Not an option!  I’m planning to make the cat platform more of an L-shape that starts from the edge of the window and follows along the wall for a few feet.  Kind of like this:

26b

That way there will be plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the window.  Since the window is pretty high up, I’ll definitely need to construct 2 or 3 smaller platform steps so Bonkers can jump from one to the next and finally up to the main platform.  I’d also eventually like to cut a hole through the wall connecting the L-shaped platform to the girl cave built-in so the boys can pop into the cave to say hello without having to jump to the ground first.

This week I started constructing the smaller access steps.  Since Bonkers hates ramps, and refuses to use the nice ramp I built for the dining room window platform, I am using it to construct the steps.  Which means I actually got to use my circular saw for the first time!  And it was AWESOME!

First I clamped the ramp to my temporary work bench [using a piece of junk wood as a buffer between my wood and the clamps].  Then I measured a segment of the ramp about 15″ long and drew a guide line across the ramp with a pencil.  I adjusted the circular saw blade so the depth was slightly deeper than the wood of the ramp.  I put on my gloves, safety glasses AND safety ear protectors, and made the first cut:

using a piece of junk wood as a buffer between clamps and the wood you're cutting        adjusting the blade depth of my circular saw

safety gear is important, including earmuffs gloves and goggles

I repeated the process a 2nd time so I had 2 identical access steps, approximately 8″ wide x 15″ long.  They’re a little narrower than I would have liked, since I crafted them out of the existing 8″ wide ramp.  To give the cats more room, I wanted a bracket that would allow me to attach the steps a couple of inches away from the wall.  Thankfully I already had 10″  metal shelf brackets from IKEA – perfect!

However, the existing holes in the 10″ brackets didn’t account for the shelf being narrower than the bracket:

26g

So I drilled a new hole in each metal bracket.  I used one of my new titanium-tipped drill bits and made sure to have my safety glasses on tight [metal shavings + eyeballs = BAD!]:

26h        26i

26j

After drilling the new holes, I attached them to the steps.  First, I laid the brackets on the steps, eyeballed the placement to make sure they weren’t crooked, used a pencil to mark where each bracket hole was, and pre-drilled the wood where each pencil mark was [making sure not to drill all the way through!].  Then, using screws slightly shallower than the depth of the wood, I attached the brackets to the steps:

26k        26l

26m

Then came the HARD PART!!!  Attaching the access steps to the wall.  I used a stud finder but could only find one stud in the area where the steps needed to be.  So for the other 6 holes, I used metal drywall anchors called Molly Bolts, which are a type of hollow wall anchor.  I found the Molly Bolts in my tool box but didn’t know what they were – a Google image search set me straight!  Then I watched a helpful video on how to use them.  Here’s what my Molly Bolts look like:

26n

They look like torpedoes!  And are pretty impressive little gadgets.  I learned that if you mess up their placement, the only way to remove them from the drywall [once they’ve been activated] is to hammer them THROUGH the drywall.  Oiks!  So I sat on the floor with a level and my pencil, held up the bracketed steps, marked the bracket holes on the wall with the pencil, then held up the bracketed steps 3 more times to make sure the pencil marks were 100% accurate before drilling holes for the molly bolts!!!

After attaching both access steps to the wall, I put little pieces of carpet on them [temporarily] hoping to entice the cats to use them.  So far, nothing, but Jim says to give it time.  I think it will help once I get the main L-shaped platform up, hopefully this weekend!  Here’s a shot of the wall after the first step went up, and another shot once both were up.  I put the step stool in the corner to give Bonkers more leverage to get up onto the lower step.  I might have to attach a 3rd step to the wall, lower than the first two…:

26q        26r

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2 Comments

  1. To get 2 WordPress captioned images to sit next to each other [instead of one under the other] you have to tell them to “align left” when uploading each image. However, if you just want one on a line, make sure you select “align none”.

  2. Your descriptions, photos, and attention to detail make everything incredibly clear and easy to understand.
    I think Darwin can jump anywhere, anytime. But poor old Bonkers – he’s going to be so grateful to you for all your work.

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