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Kitty Proofing Stair Walls

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by jordannn, Aug 9, 2015.

  1. jordannn

    jordannn Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    Aug 9, 2015
    Hi there.
    My fiance and I have two cats that we love to death. Recently, we bought a house and are very excited about this new chapter, and the fact that the cats will have much more room to run and play.

    But I'm starting to get really nervous about it now due to the stairs. It is a two story, and in the loft area there is a stair wall that separates the stairs from the loft:

    They could easily jump onto that, but I'm worried about them accidentally falling of the other side onto the stairs, which is probably a ten foot drop to the bottom, and they aren't carpeted. I don't have a photo of the drop, but you might be able to gauge how far with this picture

    It would basically be from the top of the wall to the bottom of the stairs.
    This terrifies me, especially since one of the cats, Walowitz, loves to play and explore and jump everywhere. He's a very athletic, agile boy but he's also a small cat. I couldn't bear it if one of them were seriously hurt.

    Does anyone have experience with a house like this and cats? I would hope that if either of them did jump on the banister they'd be afraid of the night and avoid it but that seems unlikely. Does anyone have any ideas on how i could kitty proof that area?


  2. Ms. Freya

    Ms. Freya Advisor Veteran

    Sep 19, 2008
    Ontario, Canada
    We had that sort of wall in out old house and I won't lie to you, the cats were up on it regularly.

    Ours overlooked laminate stairs going down to a tile floor. The part we were worried about was the shorter wall over top of the furthest drop (probably close to 10 feet), so what we ended up doing was using that ledge as a bookshelf for cookbooks - too heavy for the cats to knock over without serious effort, but enough that they weren't interested in trying to get up on them. We conceded that they would be up on the other ledge, so we used non-slip white paint (like for your porch steps) on that part of the ledge, so when they did jump up, no one slipped.

    In 9 years, no one fell off the ledge. Several of them used to hop from the ledge onto the stairs at about the 5-foot drop mark, but we didn't worry much about that because it was no different than if they hopped off the top of their cat tree.

    I hope that helps. Overall, I've found cats to be pretty good with ledges. 

  3. dandila

    dandila TCS Member Alpha Cat

    Feb 24, 2015
    Looks like a great place to display a contemporary quilt from the ceiling and tack it to the ledge.  If you don't quilt there are all sorts of ready made quilted material at the fabric store or you could purchase one retail.  All of the new fabric arts are really in now.  My avatar is a quilt so it needn't be old fashioned or stuffy.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2015
    angels mommy purraised this.

  4. Norachan

    Norachan Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    May 27, 2013
    Mount Fuji, Japan
    The house I live in is open plan with a loft upstairs and just a wooden banister between upstairs and down.

    Maybe you can get an idea of what it's like from these pictures. This is the upstairs loft with the banister on the left.

    This is the downstairs. You can't actually see the loft but you get an idea of how far a drop it is.

    We've been here for over a year with a lot of very active, crazy cats but no one has fallen so far. I drape a blanket over the upstairs banister then wedge it in place behind the bed and the bookcase. Even if one of them lost their balance they'd be able to claw there way back up the blanket.

    As long as they've got something they can get their claws into I think they'll be fine.

  5. losna

    losna TCS Member Super Cat

    Aug 3, 2014
    This won't make the OP feel any better, but I have witnessed this truth. Both Sinbad and Tempest love sitting on the edge of our landing, in that tiny strip on the outside of the railings. It scare me to death seeing it. People have told me not to worry, they are cats, they won't fall!

    They don't know Sinbad, hah. The other day he actually did fall. I'm fairly sure he was trying to lean off the edge to watch me in the kitchen, he does that a lot. But I don't try to stop him when he's up there because I don't want to startle him and cause him to fall. Anyway, I heard a scrabbling sound, and saw him dangling off the edge, holding on only by his two front paws, his body swaying in empty space. I of course called my husband and we both stood beneath him arms held up to catch him.

    But the lip is covered in carpet. With only those two claws able to get purchase, he pulled himself back up, and went to grooming like nothing had happened. For us, it was terrifying. For him, it was an adventure.

    In that space though, I would put cat shelves on those walls. Completely mitigate the risk of falling by turning that 'island' into a cat vertical space playground.
    Columbine purraised this.

  6. Columbine

    Columbine TCS Member Staff Member Advisor

    Feb 27, 2015
    The kitty playground
    We have a situation similar to Norachan's. We put a bookcase alongside the rail, so that the cats have a decent width to sit on up there, making falling less likely. In 18 years and 7 cats (in total over that time) we've never had an accident *touch wood*.

    I love Losna's idea of utilising the space to make a feline jungle gym. A great way to catify the area AND make it safe for them.

  7. jordannn

    jordannn Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    Aug 9, 2015
    I hadn't thought about putting a blanket or carpet there, I heard suggestions like a net and whatnot, and people telling me that they probably won't fall.  I don't want to take that chance--Wallowitz loves to hop up on anything, and especially when Ludo is chasing him he will escape by jumping up on the counter or something, since he is much smaller and more agile than Ludo.  But Ludo could easily jump up on that ledge if he wanted to, my concern was if they were both up there and decided to start playing with each other and one falls all that way, they've decided to start playing in windowsills and the headboard of the bed--which is a lot closer to the ground, but still a smallish space.  maybe draping a rug over the tall part would be a good idea.  I'm excited about having much more room for them, plenty of room for all their kitty trees--which take up a lot of our small apartment--and cat shelves and whatnot, lots more windows for them to look out. But that little ledge bit worried me a little bit.

  8. dandila

    dandila TCS Member Alpha Cat

    Feb 24, 2015
    Yes...just be sure to anchor it well so they can really dig in if they need to.  It looks like a really nice home.  How exciting.

  9. jesmb

    jesmb TCS Member Young Cat

    Nov 22, 2017
    What did you end up doing that was successful? My kitten took a tumble off my loft wall this morning and I'm looking for options.

  10. Norachan

    Norachan Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    May 27, 2013
    Mount Fuji, Japan
    The person who started this thread hasn't been back to TCS for a few years, I don't think you'll get a reply here. My house is loft style too. I keep a thick blanket draped over the wall and the cats can cling to that if they fall. They never do though, they're all used to balancing up there.

    Hope your kitten is OK.
    Columbine purraised this.

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