The Catwalks

Dad - September 2001

Over Labor Day weekend 2001 I decided to put up some catwalks for my kitties. Although they have access to an outdoor cat run and a cat enclosure, I felt they needed more interesting things to play on while inside my house. I used carpeted 1x10 boards and secured them above my doorways using 6 inch "L" brackets. I used "L" brackets instead of typical shelving angle brackets because from below you don't see much of the "L" brackets. I had originally tried using 1x8 uncarpeted boards but after a few 7 foot high falls (the cats landed fine) I decided to use wider boards and to carpet the top of the boards for added traction.

Above is dad looking through the hole we cut above my bedroom door which allows the cats to walk onto the catwalk in my hallway. I put a nice looking yellow cat-face as a border for the hole. I have received several inquiries about how I made those holes in my walls...see the section near the bottom of this page for more details.

The cats can get up to the catwalks via these carpeted steps in my bedroom. "Linda" often likes to perch on the top step to get a good view of things. The catwalk next to Linda was a temporary 1x8 board which I later replaced with my standard 1x10 carpeted board.

The cats can also get up to the catwalks in my bedroom via this cool carpeted ramp I built for them. They prefer to use the steps though. When they do use the ramp they make it look harder to get up than I really think it is for them. They crouch very low and claw the carpet very loudly as they creep up the ramp.

The catwalk runs above my bed and has a large area at the far end where the cats can nap.

There's a hole above my bedroom door which allows access to the catwalk in the hallway. When Tiger heard the heater kick on, he would dash up to the cat walk and lay in front of the heater vent. Tiger passed away in November 2008, at roughly 18 years old.

Once in the hallway, it's just a quick trot down to the next hole that allows access into the den.

Tiger just trotted through the access hole located several feet behind him. The cats get down from the catwalk in my den by using the carpeted steps in the right of the picture.

A few years after I built the main cat walks in my bedroom, hallway and den I built some smaller ones in the guest bedroom. That's "Josie" on the cat walk back when she was just 3 months old.

How I Made The Holes In The Wall
I'm asked about how I created the holes in the wall more than anything else. I have to admit that they were a bit of a challenge. I'm not a carpenter, so there may be better/safer ways of doing this. But here's what I did.

First, I determined that I wanted the holes to be roughly 7 inches in diameter. A 6-inch hole (roughly the diameter of a coffee can) didn't seem big enough. But 7 inches did. So I went to Home Depot looking for something that would make a good "tube" to insert into the wall. Note: I wanted to use a tube so that my cats couldn't crawl inside the walls. I found a round, metal duct work of some sort that was 7 and a quarter inches in diameter. It was strong enough not to bend under a cat's weight, but weak enough for me to cut to the right length with metal snips.

Next, I marked on my walls where I wanted the holes to be located. I usually chose to center the holes above doorways. But I first used a battery operated stud finder to make sure there weren't any studs there...there weren't. I knew that I was going to run my catwalks on top of the existing door trim, so I adjusted for the 1-inch height of the catwalk boards (i.e. I raised the hole an inch). And I knew that I wanted a decorative ring around the hole, so I raised the hole another inch for that too. I used a pencil to draw a circle (using the metal tube as a guide) on both sides of the wall. I got my circles to line up because I knew that both circles should be horizontally centered above the doorway. And once I drew a circle on one side of the wall, I measured how far down it was from the ceiling in order to draw the other circle. I drew both circles, and re-measured & pondered several times before I cut them out. LOL.

To cut the holes in the drywall, I used an electric "cutout tool." If you don't have one (or have a friend who has one) you can find ones made by DeWalt or Makita online for around $60. To minimize the chance of hitting electric wires, I set the length of the drywall bit to be barely long enough to cut through the drywall. I did not find any electric wires above my doorway, but you may have some.

Next, I used metal snips to cut the length of the metal tube so that it would be flush with both sides of the wall (roughly 5 inches in length). I didn't want my tube to rest only on the drywall because over time the drywall may weaken. So I added some small horizontal pieces of wood inside the wall under where the tube would lay - so the tube would rest on drywall and on solid wood under it. I was able to screw those pieces of wood to an already existing horizontal piece of wood under them so that they would not move. So when I inserted the metal tube in the wall, I was able to screw down through the bottom of the metal tube into that secure wood below it. That way, the tube could not rotate or be accidentally pulled out of the wall...I was nervous that if the tube ever became dislodged then my cats could crawl inside the walls and get stuck. In fact, before I inserted the tube in my wall I actually furred in the hole with wood on all sides. That is, I found nearby existing vertical and horizontal pieces of wood to screw new wood too until the entire hole was surrounded by wood. So in my case, even if the tube was removed, my cats can't get inside the walls. That may be overkill - but I would at least secure wood under the metal tube and then screw the tube to that wood with several screws.

For aesthetic reasons, I placed a border around the holes. The borders don't need to be wooden like mine. In fact, you could probably cut them out of poster board and simply glue or tape them in place. Secure them well, so they don't come off and get tangled in your kitties legs while he/she is up high on the catwalks.

One last thing, remember to keep your cats away from the hole in your wall until you secure it so that they can't get inside the walls. Good luck!

Windows Media Player Video Clips
If you don't have the latest version of the Windows Media Player you can get the free version by clicking here.

Tiger & Linda on the catwalks - November 2001
Josie on catwalks for her first time - June 20, 2007

Other Related Links On My Site:
My Cats' Home Page
The Catrun
The Large Cat Enclosure

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