Catification: DIY Cat Shelves to Boost Kitty’s Confidence

DIY Cat Shelves

Kate from Royal Oak, Michigan installed these cat shelves to help her cat, Doja, with some self-esteem issues. Oftentimes cats will be more secure and self-confident when they are able to climb to a higher place in a room, where they can survey their surroundings. Doja was afraid of everything and would always hide when guests came to visit. With her new cat shelves, Doja now comes out to visit!

DIY Cat Shelves

Using basic wooden boards and brackets from the hardware store, Kate created the perfect DIY cat shelves. The shelves are painted the same color as the walls so everything matches, and both felines and humans are happy.

DIY Cat Shelves

Notes from Jackson: Great work! It’s fantastic to get to know your cat better by building vertical choices for him or her. The discovery that Doja is a tree dweller was key to building her confidence. The proof is in the pictures. Doja is not up on those shelves because they are a better place to hide from the world; as a matter of fact, seeing her cheek mark the shelf shows confident ownership of that area, and that’s what we always want to see as a result of Catification.

There are a couple of things I’d like to see as Kate expands Doja’s world: When shelves go deeper into the vertical world, I would like to see some kind of padding on the shelves, either sisal mats or fleece pads that can be attached to the shelves. The benefit is twofold: increase that ownership mojo by giving another surface that absorbs scent, and also keep everyone safe. Slippery surfaces are not a cat’s friend when jumping from shelf to shelf, especially if they build up a head of steam.

Keep in mind the concept of the cat superhighway. You have two cats and a highway that abruptly ends. I would definitely have shelves on the left hand wall, leading them down from the apex. And in a multi-cat household, after all, a naked wall is crime against Catification!

DIY Cat Shelves

Have your own Catification project that you want to share? Click here to submit your photos!

The Catification column on is written by Cat Style Expert, Kate Benjamin. Kate specializes in environmental enhancement for living with cats and is the founder and editor of, the premiere online magazine for design-conscious cat people. Kate’s design expertise and Jackson’s cat behavior know-how combine to create cat-friendly environments that are sure to please both human and feline family members alike.

  1. Angel   April 23, 2013 at 5:05 pm  

    I love these! I am only 16 but my almost one year old (her birthday is April 28th) 7 and a 1/2 pound orange ball of joy Kyeri is my best friend and, I really want to do something like this for her. She is really nervous and doesn’t like new people like Doja. She spends 70% of her time in my room. She tends to like it better in there where she can be by herself or with me. I am the only person so far that she really likes and I don’t have to chase her to catch her. We are moving soon and when we get our own room and I get a job I am going to make our room kitty heaven (mine and Kye’s). We have 2 other cats they will be in my room if I am in there also. Kyeri is the only one who can be alone in my room I have a beardie and the other two traumatize her. Like I was saying I really want to do this for my cat and I really like this one. Great job!

  2. Ben   May 2, 2013 at 7:42 am  

    Hey there,
    Anyone who is interested in wall mounted carpeted shelves for your kitties, you can get them at
    Very affordable too.

    1. Revenwyn   December 3, 2013 at 8:10 pm  

      I fail to see how those are affordable, but then again we’re on food stamps.

  3. michelle wolff   December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm  

    Try cutting old yoga mats to fit the shelves – they love the texture, easy to clean and replace – they can be glued down with Liquid Nails or Gorilla Glue (easier)

    1. Jael   May 13, 2016 at 8:57 am  

      I love this idea- a way to recycle my old yoga mat!

  4. Beth   April 17, 2014 at 8:55 am  

    Does anyone have any advice for cat shelves for a 3-legged cat? She is not quite as balanced and agile as she was with 4 legs and I worry about her falling and injuring herself. Any resources or advice would be great!

    1. Jaron   July 22, 2015 at 10:12 am  

      Make the shelves more wide out and make them not as far apart as they show in the pics

    2. Esma   August 13, 2015 at 3:09 pm  

      You can put bumpers on the shelves – I plan on using pool noodles superglued and duct taped to the edges of some of my shelves so my kitty doesn’t fall off in her sleep.

  5. Shari LaFrenierre   July 6, 2014 at 6:44 pm  

    I know my cats would love the cat super highway. Do I just invest in shelving for them?

  6. Jaron   July 22, 2015 at 10:14 am  

    I’m talking to beth

  7. Yann Tiego   October 4, 2015 at 4:34 pm  

    Is it mandatory to used those L type brackets? Can you just use ikea style (invisible bracket) shelves?


We regret that Jackson does not answer questions posted in the comments. This is due to his demanding schedule and the high volume of requests he receives. But most importantly, since he has not met your cat, it would be contrary to his approach for him to give specific personalized advice for your specific situation. That being said, general questions and issues are addressed throughout this blog, in his book Cat Daddy and of course, the show My Cat From Hell.

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