Highrise syndrome protection

Juniper_Junebug

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My 6-month old Juno now has the agility to get herself into trouble. I have a roof deck that I take her out onto, with a vest harness and leash. Today, she managed to jump onto the railing/wall, which is four stories up. I was close at hand and took her down. But she kept trying. I think she just wants to be able to see over the railing.

For others with high places, what has been your solution? Is it safe to create a place for her to sit that is almost at the height of the railing (knowing that she's still on the leash)? Or might she still make a stupid move? How do I let her enjoy the deck without risking a fall, now that she seems determined to get to the railing?

I have similar issues indoor because I have a loft over my "great room" and the drop from the railing is about 14 feet (photo attached). So far, she's never jumped onto the railing, but I fear it is only a matter of time. She sometimes seems to do daredevil things just to get my attention, because she knows it freaks me out and I will come running. Within the first week of getting her, she fell off the top of the open stairway to the floor below (about 10 feet). She was fine but shaken. (Given the open layout, there was never an option of closing her off from the loft).

Any practical advice would be much appreciated. As a first time cat owner, I just don't know what cats are capable of.
 

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fionasmom

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Our last house had a very similar arrangement to your pic with the exception of the loft was a bannister on the staircase. The cats sat on it all the time and no one ever fell. Yes, it made me nervous, but there was no way to stop them and no way to make it unappealing given the design. Having said that, there are cat repellent strips of various types designed to keep them off furniture, etc. I have never used them and I don't know if they would work on your loft. As for the outdoor space, we never let the cats out on the balcony as it made me too nervous.
 

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Juniper_Junebug

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Our last house had a very similar arrangement to your pic with the exception of the loft was a bannister on the staircase. The cats sat on it all the time and no one ever fell. Yes, it made me nervous, but there was no way to stop them and no way to make it unappealing given the design. Having said that, there are cat repellent strips of various types designed to keep them off furniture, etc. I have never used them and I don't know if they would work on your loft. As for the outdoor space, we never let the cats out on the balcony as it made me too nervous.
That's really good to know. I have been afraid of using cat repellent products (at least sticky tape and sscat mat), because I am afraid if she did jump up, it would surprise her and knock her off balance, making a fall even more likely. (And she doesn't respond to the repellent sprays).
 
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Juniper_Junebug

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From looking at your pic and mentioning it is 4 stories up it looks like it could be dangerous especially since you said she is persistent to go back up there.

This Article about making your home look bigger for your cat might have some helpful information, note the tips in #2, cat shelves:
How To Make Your Home Bigger (at Least For Your Cats) – TheCatSite Articles
Just to clarify, the loft railing in the photo is only about 14 feet from the floor below. The deck railing, on the other hand (no photo), is 4 stories from the ground. She's wearing a harness and leash when she's out there, and I never let her actually up on the railing (though she tries), but I'm wondering if it's safe to let her have a perch that allows her to see above the railing. The idea being, maybe that'll deter her from wanting to get to the railing? I just don't know how irrational and impulsive cats can be.
 

fionasmom

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I agree with you on deterrents. I am not a fan of spraying anything around cats and something strange on a bannister or edge could freak the cat out enough to cause the problem, not prevent it. As I said, no one ever fell at my house and a couple even used to sleep on the bannister which did concern me.

If you are with your cat on the roof and holding the leash it seems fine. Any "freedom" worries me though as all it takes is one mistake for the cat to be dangling over the edge because something looked interesting. Cats may understand spatial distance, I am not sure, meaning big drops. Dogs don't and few police dogs have died over the years by making the big jump after a suspect. You are no doubt a very responsible person or you would not be posting these concerns, but railings and stories in the air makes me nervous.
 
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Juniper_Junebug

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I definitely get nervous about the deck. I literally have nightmares where she almost falls. But I want to help her live her best cat life, and I think she likes the outdoor access, so I am still inclined to keep going out but just be extra watchful and stay close.
 

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Hi. Just wanted to pipe in - at least related to the loft railing in the photo - have you ever considered affixing shelving to the wall to give her way to get down from there? See example in the pic attached below.

As far as the outside deck, without seeing pics, I can only offer the idea of a cat enclosure for her to use that precludes her from actually getting to an open space to fall from. Also included a second pic for a possible example.
 

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Juniper_Junebug

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Hi. Just wanted to pipe in - at least related to the loft railing in the photo - have you ever considered affixing shelving to the wall to give her way to get down from there? See example in the pic attached below.

As far as the outside deck, without seeing pics, I can only offer the idea of a cat enclosure for her to use that precludes her from actually getting to an open space to fall from. Also included a second pic for a possible example.
I have definitely thought of shelving (for the loft wall and elsewhere), but I have wanted to get a better idea of what she would enjoy and use before drilling into my walls. She's young enough that it seems like her jumping ability and predilection will continue to evolve.

For those with shelving, I'm curious how your decided the right setup for your kitty. In two months' time, I've already bought a lot of stuff, with the best intentions, that she has no interest in. I am not at all handy and will not be able to patch the wall of if I get it wrong.
 

fionasmom

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I have never done shelving but I know that people like Jackson Galaxy have included it in their/his book. He has an entire book which I once sent to a friend a few years ago where he shows how to make your house cat friendly and fun without making it look tacky. Mine would be happy if I just threw cardboard boxes everywhere.
 
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Juniper_Junebug

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Mine would be happy if I just threw cardboard boxes everywhere.
Right now, my living room is strewn with Chewy packing paper and an assortment of cardboard boxes, including several I have taped together in different configurations.... Man, she loves that packing paper.
 

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I have a similar loft in my house. I ran a long curtain rod along the ceiling and hung a sheer curtain, the bottom of which I affixed to the top ledge of the loft with command hooks, so the cats can look down from above but can’t walk along the edge. It runs all the way across the edge of the loft to the top of the stairs.
 
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Juniper_Junebug

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I have a similar loft in my house. I ran a long curtain rod along the ceiling and hung a sheer curtain, the bottom of which I affixed to the top ledge of the loft with command hooks, so the cats can look down from above but can’t walk along the edge. It runs all the way across the edge of the loft to the top of the stairs.
I saw that when LTS3 linked to your earlier post. Very impressive. I am the opposite of a DIY-er so I'm not optimistic about my ability to do something like that. How long was the curtain rod? Mine would need to be 20 feet and that seems wide enough that I would question its structural integrity (especially if I tried to do it myself).
 
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Juniper_Junebug

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Well, it happened. My cat was in one of her Evil Kneival 😈 moods today. I look up and see her on the ledge of the loft.
20201124_104716.jpg

When I went up to get her, she walked that ledge back and forth until I removed her.

Not but ten minutes later, as I was downstairs googling ways to cat-proof my stove (it's been a long morning), I saw kitty come crashing down. Almost stopped my heart but, aside from being momentarily stunned, she didn't seem too phased, let alone hurt. Phew! But hopefully she learned her lesson? I haven't seen her up there again (meanwhile she makes a run at the stove every ten minutes).

Over the last few days, I've been figuring out shelving to put up around the place so she can safely reach high places (and get down without tumbling).
 

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Wow! Maybe you should consider hiring a handy man to install a barrier along the edge of that loft. A high railing with plexi-glass wouldn't really look too bad. The railing could decorative if you wanted - the plexi-glass would be inserted in the inside of the railing so that she couldn't climb it. That might be cheaper, and easier, than trying to figure out to install steps/shelving since you are unsure of the spacing. I wouldn't trust her NOT to do it again.

Any luck with the stove deterrents? Not sure what you have, but if you searched for solutions, I would imagine you found a few that might work for your particular set up.
 

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I am also thinking that you need someone to come over, evaluate the situation, and do some professional installation. The kitty sounds like a daredevil and I agree that she might not have learned her lesson, especially if she enjoyed the flight in any way.

Plexiglass would not look bad and there might be other solutions. My SIL and BIL bought a house which was entirely child unfriendly when they had three small boys and did have to put a barrier on a very unsafe staircase similar to what is suggested here.
 

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Maybe install cat shelves / ramps from the railing down to the lower level so your cat can safely climb up and down if she wishes. Maybe cover the railing with a grippy material so your cat has something to cling to if a misstep happens.

Some ramp / shelving ideas:







 
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Juniper_Junebug

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Thanks, everyone. Thinking it over, I suspect she fell because she misjudged the width of the railing when she jumped up the second time. To her, it would probably look just like a counter table from her vantage point. Counterintuitively, for a near term solution, I'm thinking of stacking boxes on the loft so she can easily reach the railing without jumping. Sure, she could still slip, hypothetically, but it seems much safer than inviting her to jump. (I'm around all day and still, I can't prevent it)

There is a way down from the loft ledge that is fairly safe, especially if I add a step-- it's maybe four to five feet from the ledge to the top of my cabinets, on the far side. So that's what I'm thinking of doing. She's only unsafe if she falls off in the middle, which I think is less likely if she had other options and isn't jumping up there blind.
 
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Juniper_Junebug

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Any luck with the stove deterrents? Not sure what you have, but if you searched for solutions, I would imagine you found a few that might work for your particular set up.
[/QUOTE]

I am having some locks for the stove knobs overnighted to me from Amazon. Hopefully they'll work. She'll still be able to jump on the stove, which I don't love (I've tried to keep her off the counters, a decision that seemed especially wise after she was diagnosed with giardia). But at least she won't be able to light anything on fire (including herself) or cause a gas leak.

She's not getting the run of the house tonight after I go to bed, just to be safe.
 
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