Older pets are wonderful companions. They know exactly how to cuddle in our lap just the right way, how to “share” a pillow at night, and how to get a treat.
There are times, though, that getting around isn’t as easy as it once was. That “kitten spring” in their legs seems to wear out, and getting up on the couch or bed gets harder every month. It’s heartbreaking to watch a beloved cat jump and miss a couch cushion eighteen inches away.
Building a cardboard staircase or ramp for a cat or small dog isn’t as hard as it seems. There are commercial alternatives, but the prices sometimes don’t walk hand in hand with quality. And, some of the products are made of cardboard.
Here’s what you need to build your own:
Adhesive shelf paper
• Utility knife
• Ruler and straight edge
• White glue or construction glue (liquid nails works great)
• Carpet scraps (optional)
A cardboard box at least 18 inches tall may be used. Additional cardboard is needed, as well.
This staircase will be 18 inches tall, 12 inches wide and 18 inches deep.
Begin with a piece of cardboard 18 inches square. Measure 6 inches across the top and bottom, and draw a straight line down. Measure and mark 12 inches across the top and bottom, and draw a straight line down.
Turn the square on its side. The marks will be horizontal. Again, measure across the top as in the first paragraph.
The square will be sectioned into nine separate squares. One square can be measured and cut, then used as a template for the other pieces.
Begin at the top left of the square. With the marker, make an “X” in the second and third squares. Mark an “X” in the second square down from the left, under the last top “X.”
With the marker, trace the outer edges of the marked boxes where they border non-marked squares. Do you see the stairs start to form?
Place something like plywood under the cardboard to protect the floor. Using the utility knife, cut the marked squares away. You now have a staircase template.
Use the template to create three more.
Glue 2 pieces together to create one strong piece. These will be the sides of the staircase. Set these aside for now.
For the back, cut 2 pieces of cardboard, each 18 inches by 12 inches. Glue together and set aside.
For the bottom (optional), cut 2 pieces of cardboard, each 18 inches by 12 inches. Glue together and set aside.
For the risers (the part of the stair to the front), cut 6 pieces of cardboard, each 6 inches by 12 inches. Glue together in three sets of two. Set aside.
For the treads (the part the kitty will step on), cut 6 pieces of cardboard, each 6 inches by 12 inches. Glue together in three sets of two. Set aside.
Now we begin to put it all together. At this point, the cardboard pieces can first be covered with shelf paper, paint or any decoration desired, then assembled. Or it can be assembled, and then decorated.
Glue the back piece to the back of the staircase sidepieces. The sidepieces will be on the inside of the back piece. Support as necessary while the glue dries. Corner clamps may be used to hold the pieces steady.
Glue the bottom piece to the bottom of the staircase.
Glue the risers to the front of the steps.
Glue the treads to the top of the stairs.
If carpeted stairs are desired, glue them in place now.
Place near the sofa or bed, and gently encourage kitty to try to use it after the glue has dried completely. Catnip, pets and praises, or treats may be used to entice kitty to try their own custom-built staircase.
If a ramp instead of stairs is desired, mark a diagonal line on the beginning square, assemble all side, back and bottom pieces, measure the ramp, and make the appropriate piece.
My “older” cat, “Da’ Marvelous Magnificent Majestic Marvin,” loves his staircase. No other cat is allowed to put a paw on the treads. And I know better than to move it. The “catnip fines” add up. He weighs around 17 pounds, and the doubled cardboard holds him well.
For a little heavier pet, say 20 to 25 pounds, use three pieces of cardboard instead of two, or make the case out of plywood. Adjust the measurements for any bed or sofa that your furry family member uses.