In August, we adopted Birdie [our 3rd cat] from the shelter. We quickly realized she was terrified of Bonkers [our 2nd cat], who made it his business to stalk and harass her. Bonkers can’t jump, so Birdie spent her days sleeping on the art desk in the girl cave or on the upstairs hall cat platforms. We bought her a cat tree for the master bedroom so she’d have a Bonkers free safe zone in there, as well. Over time, the upstairs became Birdie’s domain, and the downstairs became Bonkers’ domain, with Darwin [our original cat] roaming freely through both. We didn’t want Birdie to be sequestered upstairs, but she refused to come down on her own, and whenever we carried her down, she’d immediately run back up.
So in September I built Birdie a set of downstairs hall cat platforms, hoping she’d feel safe enough to hang out downstairs with us. I built them at the foot of the stairs, between the living room and kitchen, where she’d easily be able to to run back upstairs if she felt scared. We have a fairly open floor plan, so the platforms give her a view of most of the downstairs. I wrapped one around the corner into the living room to incorporate the top of the wooden wine rack, which is the same height [and temporarily wine-less in the first pic]. We moved the stuff off the top and lay down a zebra fleece blanket instead:
Jim started carrying Birdie down twice a day and feeding her breakfast and dinner on the platforms, with Bonkers and Darwin eating nearby in the kitchen. At first she’d eat and then immediately run back upstairs. But over the course of a few weeks, her confidence started to build and she’d enjoy some nap time and chillax time on the platforms as well:
Bonkers has continued to stalk and harass Birdie, so last week Jim put a bell on him to give Birdie a “Bonkers early warning system”. It’s made a huge difference! Between the platforms and Bonkers’ bell, Birdie has started coming downstairs all on her own! She’s usually down the stairs and up onto the platforms before Bonkers even knows she’s there. And twice in the past week I’ve seen her eating from the bowls of dry food in the living room and kitchen! In the first pic you can tell she’s relaxed because her bum is on the floor as she eats [that’s Darwin sprawled in the foreground]:
Tonight, while Bonkers was upstairs, Birdie even wandered into the dining room and sniffed around in there. Huge progress in just a week! I think she waits until she hasn’t heard the bell in a while, so she can be pretty confidant Bonkers is asleep somewhere.
I recently decided to extend the downstairs cat platforms further into the living room. By adding a U-shaped platform to the top of the wooden wine rack I can extend Birdie’s range around the corner to the TV cupboard:
And from there she can jump to the couch:
And from the couch she can access pretty much the rest of the living room without having to touch the floor – a true Jackson Galaxy cat superhighway!
Jim and I usually hang out on the couch after dinner and I know Birdie would love to join us. The platform extension will allow her to do so without fear of a Bonkers sneak attack. So last weekend I sketched out some measurements on a piece of paper, then onto a piece of ¾” plywood I had in the basement:
I was hoping to cut the plywood last weekend, but our basement decided to flood with all the rain [not badly, just enough to make the cement floor damp], and I didn’t want to stand on wet concrete using power tools…
By Thursday the floor was dry and I cut the platform down to size with my circular saw. The inner corner was too tight for the power saw, so I used a hand saw to cut as much of the wood away as I could, leaving a very jagged line:
I’d been trying to figure out the best way to cut the jagged bits off. I was thinking maybe a jab saw, but those are for drywall and I didn’t think using one on ¾” plywood would work very well. Then I was thinking maybe a mini hacksaw or a chisel. Hubby suggested my reciprocating saw [aka “sawzall”] – brilliant! I clamped the cat platform to the WorkMate table I’m borrowing from Abbie and powered up the sawzall:
It worked beautifully! I’m not very good at using power tools yet, so I kept having to shave a bit more off before my line was [relatively] straight, resulting in a platform ½” narrower than I intended, but it’s no biggie:
Then I got to use my swanky new palm/orbital sander to sand down all the edges. Then it was just a matter of filling in the divets [from the circular saw and sawzall] with wood filler, which I let dry overnight:
Sunday morning I sanded down the wood filler, then set up an impromptu workshop in the basement using some cheap plastic sawhorses from Home Depot [that I bought over the summer] and a piece of plywood. I got my paint triangles out and got the cat platform ready to paint:
Over the course of the day Sunday I got two coats of BIN primer and 2 coats of white paint on both sides:
I can’t wait to attach it to the wall – Birdie’s going to love it!
What a great job – what a lucky cat!