Introduction: Curved Cat Stairs for Your Living Room

Picture of Curved Cat Stairs for Your Living Room

When I got a dog, I realized the cats were spending a lot less time with me in the living room. I decided to build them an escape so they could stick around and stay out of the puppy's reach.

Here is how I built a curved staircase to ensure safe passage from the couch to the top of a bookcase.

Step 1: Stringer Molding

Picture of Stringer Molding

Mold the outer stringer which will define your stair case's curve by soaking wood in water and clamping to a form.

  • Cut a sheet of plywood into two 4'x4' pieces
  • draw a circle onto each piece that will be the diameter of your staircase's curve
  • screw studs connecting the two pieces of plywood (kind of like a half-pipe)
  • mark a length of about 4' (the eventual height of your staircase) on the first and last stud
  • Soak lengths of 1/8" by 4" hard wood in water (a kiddie pool) for a few hours
  • clamp 1/8" strips to the frame (layer two thick and make sure to stagger them if they aren't long enough to span the whole length), curving from your start mark on the first stud to the stop mark on the last one.
  • Allow to dry
  • Unclamp, glue the two thicknesses of 1/8" together, and reclamp.
  • Allow to dry

Step 2: The Steps

Picture of The Steps

Use your stringer form to create a stair step template

  • Remove the studs from your stringer form
  • Draw a circle 6" inside one of the existing circles; this separation will be the width of your step.
  • Do some math: you'll want to make 90 deg worth of steps, so figure out how deep you want each step and how high each step should be. (I did about 10 steps, 4" deep on the inner circle and 4" tall)
  • Cut out one step to use as a template. Also cut a template for your first and last step which follows the inner circle but not the outer: you want this step to lay flat on the wall rather then curving back in
  • Rough cut some steps (I used 1/2" hard wood) and trace your template with a router for some smooth curves
  • Also cut out the upright pieces: a bunch of rectangles (4" x 6" x 1/8" in my case)
  • Glue these all together. Either take a bunch of time or make a sculpture with every clamp you own like I did. You might want some screws too (drill pilot holes!)

Step 3: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Now it's starting to come together: All that's left is connecting your stairs to the stringer and painting

  • Glue the stringer to your steps. My stringer didn't totally cover the stairs rise/run, so I lined it up on the top and the overlap underneath isn't really noticeable.
  • Tack the stringer in place with some small screws. Drill pilot holes! it would be a shame to split anything at this stage.
  • Paint it your (or your cat's) favorite color.

n.b. The stringer will likely not make a perfect 90deg and be a little slack. This is ok, thats why we're supplementing our glue with screws.

Step 4: Enjoy!

Picture of Enjoy!

Screw the stringer directly into the wall (again, pilot holes!) and if you really want, spackle the screw hole and paint.

Now your cats have a staircase and you have some cool art!

p.s. if the cats seem skeptical, sprinkling a little catnip on the stairs or whatever's up top seems to help ;)


lilly1761 (author)2016-04-08

Ben would you be wiling to make one for me? Please contact me at: Thanx!

blomeclown (author)2014-11-13

That is beyond cool.

But you could have saved lot of time by simply discussing the project with your cats.

They would have told you to get rid of the dog.

IceKitty (author)blomeclown2014-12-12

But if you ask the dog, it would have told you to get rid of the cat.

So do you get rid of both?

Or do you just make the dog and cats kiss and make up?


thundrepance (author)blomeclown2014-11-18

HAA-A-A-A-a-hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha-a-a-a!! ( :^D

LENDERBOY (author)blomeclown2014-11-14

HOOO that made me laugh Blomeclown! Great project.

floatchick (author)blomeclown2014-11-13

Kudos to you, benschwartz!
I second what kstadden said, blomeclown. Perfect comment! LOL.

kstadden (author)blomeclown2014-11-13

I love this project, but your comment made my evening.

zymurgeneticist (author)2014-12-08

Now that is dedication, great job!

I bet your cat says Thank You everyday for a great gift. Good work. I imagine it's a lot of fun watching your kitty enjoy his stairs. :-)

CJA3D (author)2014-12-06

i am sure the cat must be super excited !!

abunda (author)2014-11-20

Oh! lucky cat!

SonOfBlade (author)2014-11-14

What I would give to spend 10 minutes with that orange cat.

juliawesom3 (author)SonOfBlade2014-11-17

We need more cat cafes.

R_H (author)2014-11-17

Should make the steps out of clear plastic ( perspex ).

roulopa (author)2014-11-14

Oh my, I have exactly the same red cat!

autotransparent (author)roulopa2014-11-14

Me too!

karlanz (author)2014-11-14

Love it, inspiring, one of my cats loves to be up high, and this would be just perfect. Well done :-)

bettina-sisr (author)2014-11-13

OK you get major points for doing this for many reason, a couple of which are; cats are cool, and sculpture is awesome! Thanks, from all the kitties, especially yours!

e-beth (author)2014-11-13

I built a "staircase" for my cats from some Ikea shelves and some jute mats. It's more like a back and forth kinda thing. I can definitely attest to the catnip bait.

sakko303 (author) e-beth2014-11-13

so I'm looking for wall mountable perch/climbing solutions for my little guy that don't take as much work, and I am digging this one. There are many cool IKEA shelves out there to choose from.

e-beth (author)sakko3032014-11-13

Check out the weight limits on the floating shelves.
So far, so good, but my male Ragdoll cat is nowhere near full grown.

benschwartz (author) e-beth2014-11-13

you could always brace them with a triangle of wood. if there's a stud near the middle, you could probably get away with one per shelf; half the depth of the shelf and still be safe with a pair of maine coons :)

benschwartz (author) e-beth2014-11-13

very cool :)

truliwicked (author)2014-11-13

That is AWESOME!!! Now all I need is the cat :-)

redark54 (author)2014-11-13

Great photo and text on your project.All your planning and mock-up to see it before you install it,was great for the little tweaks..Very done..

clazman (author)2014-11-13

Love it, love it, love it!

What we do for our pets!

Love and appreciate your recognition of the need, and yes, the importance of fixtures, jigs, and/or tooling to create a project.

Now that you have that out of the way, more can be produced as well

foobear (author)2014-11-13

a cats dream! fave!

sakko303 (author)2014-11-13

This is great! I've seen things like this on TV! I love the curvature. Also, your fluffy orange cat is totally adorbs. Please give him a head scratch from the internet!

heathbar64 (author)2014-11-13

My cats can get to the top of the bookcase without help, but I might build something like this anyway because it looks so cool. On second thought, that would probably let the dogs get up there too.

dbaker13 (author)2014-11-13

This is an incredibly smart idea, you definitely would make some money on this. You put alot of effort into it. I would head on over to Shark Tank if I were you :)

benschwartz (author)2014-11-13

thanks everyone! it's great getting all this feedback!

Snidely70448 (author)2014-11-13

Are you single? My wife has no patience for such ideas. She has this strange idea that houses should cater to people, not pets. In fact, she eben objects to cats finding their own way to the tops of book cases, which I consider a very uncompromising attitude.

benschwartz (author)Snidely704482014-11-13

haha! luckily my lady likes to pamper the cats too :)

CityGirl70 (author)2014-11-13

Maybe you should enter it in the Wood Contest?

benschwartz (author)CityGirl702014-11-13

thanks! I just did :)

seamster (author)2014-11-12

This is some highly impressive craftsmanship.

Or is it catsmanship?

throttlehog (author)seamster2014-11-13

LOL...How originally punny of you!

jodyja (author)2014-11-13

U should offer these for sale. I would buy one for my cat.

I too, haven't the skill set to make this, nor the tools or space.

Love it!!!

CityGirl70 (author)2014-11-13

I love your stairway to cat haven ;)

bakunin (author)2014-11-13

Them some happy-looking cats!

peads92470 (author)2014-11-13

Ha! You're a man who knows how to appreciate cats! My kudos.

judas.jj (author)2014-11-13

mola ,muy original

impied (author)2014-11-13

This is awesome! Your cats are super cute, too

WileECoyote (author)2014-11-12

I love this! I always wanted to make these for my cats but I think this may be beyond my skillset. I put it in my favorites though ... maybe someday.

Fission Chips (author)2014-11-11

This looks really cool! I'm sure your kitties will love it. Could there be a danger of them falling off the top stair? Great work.

they seem pretty comfortable on it. they generally only use the stairs to get to the top (not really room to sit) and have even done some light wrestling on the top step with no falls (at least none that I've seen)

jmyers1 (author)2014-11-12

This is so great! My kitties would love it!

Gilly (author)2014-11-12

This has just got to be the best thing ever! I don't have cats but your intro about the puppy scaring the cats out really made me laugh! It's brilliant.

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