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Tall Beds: The Bane Of Your CH Cat’s Existence?

June 19, 2013

I’ll admit it. I don’t think I’ll ever own a “grown-up” bed.

Photo courtesy aigarius.

By grown-up bed, I mean one that consists of more than a mattress and box spring on the floor. One that has legs, a headboard, and – dare I imagine – a fancy comforter that makes me feel like I’m living in a hotel or a magazine.

But to be honest, I’m willing to give up all of that.

After adopting CG and later Ellie, I came to the realization that when it comes to beds, lower is better – not to mention that any comforter I own would be peppered with claw holes immediately and ripped apart eventually.

Such is the life of someone living with cerebellar hypoplasia cats. Or so I thought.

But I’ve learned that my solution to this overall issue isn’t the only choice. In fact, there are many options available to folks who do have a “grown-up” bed and want to accommodate their CH cats, too.

This realization happened the other day when Dori posted on Facebook:

“Need some suggestions. We have a very high bed and the kitties love coming in for a kitty snuggle fest… Problem is, Charlotte is constantly wanting to get down to explore or do her thing. She has a tendency to fall and fly across the floor and I’m fearful she’s going to hurt herself. It makes for an unrestful night because we are always listening for her. I could use pillows on the floor but is there anything else besides $50 worth of pillows I could use? I hate to ban them from the room but I’m considering.”

The trouble is, how do we enable our special needs cats to get on and off our beds safely?

The community was quick to come to Dori’s aid. A number of people offered great suggestions, and it made me realize that I’m not the only one dealing with a similar issue – not to mention finding ways to come up with solutions.

So let’s say you have a “grown-up” bed, which from now on is going to be called what it is: A bed. How do you accommodate your CH cats? Here are a number of solutions:

Photo courtesy pj_in_oz.

If your cat has a favorite landing spot, consider laying a padded mattress topper, folded comforter, or dog bed in the area. That way your cat’s landing will be padded.

However, that may or may not work, depending on your cat’s personality. Some cats will welcome the padding. Others will be curious or suspicious and avoid it. Still others will decide they don’t want to jump off that way any more and will decide on a new route, mid-leap (or slide/fall – depending on your cat’s ability).

To cut back on your cat’s number of exit options, one idea is to push the bed into a corner of the room, which limits the number of sides your cat can choose to jump off.

But sometimes even that may not be enough. Even if it does work, those ideas focus only on how to safely help a cat off your bed, not how to empower him to get on your bed on his own.

One solution that accommodates both scenarios is to place an ottoman, set of doggy stairs, or a ramp on one side of your bed. While your cat may be hesitant at first, with a little training she’ll learn to use them.

In our home, we have a small cylindrical cat condo next to our bed. It’s only about a foot high, so it’s a good “step” for our cats when they want to get on or off our bed. If you have a taller bed, slightly taller cat condos may be helpful.

And of course, you could always go my route: Put the mattress and box spring on the floor. This may not be the most ideal solution, but it is the lowest solution.

Photo courtesy Yiping Lim.

That said, “low” can mean very different things. When Matt and I moved in together, we each brought two twenty-something mattress sets to our marriage. About a year in, we decided to splurge for a new mattress set. We were thrilled, but soon realized the new mattress set was several inches taller than what the cats were used to. Consequently, they started to climb onto the bed more often – as well as asked to be pulled up.

We’ve inhibited their ability to get on and off somewhat, but they’re good sports.

One best practice I’ve learned from my own day-to-day, is that carpeting on the floor around your bed can be essential. It provides a secure, somewhat padded landing spot. And if a cat’s plans of getting off the bed do go south, at least there’s a little something between them and the floor.

Without a doubt, this will be a work in progress. Even if I don’t ever have a “grown-up” bed, I do want to make sure that our cats can safely maneuver their ways on and off our bed.

How have you helped your CH cat get on or off of your bed? Please share in the comments!

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Lauren T. permalink
    June 19, 2013 6:39 pm

    After my husband and I moved in together, we started using the bed from his place, which is much higher than the one I used to have in my apartment with Mimosa (which is now in the guestroom). However, Mimosa insists on being on it all the time regardless of the height, even if she crashes every time she gets off. When we first moved in, she still went to the guestroom to sleep in “her” bed, but once she realized I wasn’t sleeping in there and I made some adjustments to help her get on/off the higher bed, she decided to switch nap spots. Now, if you think you are sleeping without her, think again. In fear of more cracked teeth, I eventually decided to put an ottoman on one side of the bed, in the hopes that she would use it. She refuses to use it when she jump/climbs up, so she has absolutely destroyed our comforter, but she now uses it all the time when she jumps down. Its still a big “thud” sometimes from the ottoman to the floor if its not positioned properly or if she is in a hurry, but its still better than jumping from the very top!

  2. Lemonmelonn permalink
    June 20, 2013 6:08 am

    I’ve always called it a “splat” when Dotty jumps off the bed. At two and a half though, and having only mild CH, she’s learned to land on her feet a few times, or at least a couple of feet. I put a medium-sized rug where she usually lands, but she doesn’t like it because it slides on the wood floor when she lands on it. She can sometimes jump up onto the bed with one of her “flying leaps”, which she has to sit and think about for a bit before she makes the attempt and springs into action. Other times she just climbs up the side. She loves to sit on boxes, and I even got her a small, antique drawer and turned it upside-down in the kitchen, which she loves to sit on. She can climb up from there onto a chair, and from there onto my new dining room table, where there’s a window on the side of the house that’s a new view for her, and she has never jumped from the table–she always takes the chair and the box down.. So I put a small (foot tall) cardboard box by the bed, which she ignores and instead jumps and sometimes still splats on the floor. I worry about her breaking something too, but she’s been fine so far.

    • Stephanie permalink
      February 6, 2016 9:18 am

      How about getting a rubber backing for the rug near your bed so it doesn’t slide no the wood floor. I would definitely not let her keep landing on the hard-wood floor. 🙂

  3. Marilee Hageman permalink
    June 21, 2013 1:51 pm

    I have a very high bed and my mild CH babies get up there by way of a doggie step unit that I got online many years ago. I am adopting a new CH baby now and he has a more severe case of CH. I found a set of pet steps on Amazon.com that I hope will be great for the bed in my Kitty Room. It has 3 steps that are fairly wide and areas under the steps for kitties to hide/play/sleep. It is made by Amarkat; here is the link, if it works: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003BYQ0YM/ref=pe_385040_30332190_pe_175190_21431760_M3T1_ST1_dp_i1. If that doesn’t work, search by Amarkat Pet Steps on Amazon.com. I was so pleased to find this. It hasn’t arrived yet but the reviews are very good.

    • Toni permalink
      July 10, 2013 1:00 pm

      I love that you added a link. We just rescued two kittens, one of which appears to have CH. We are so excited for our new additions, and we are already trying to make things easier for her.

  4. Cathy permalink
    June 21, 2013 5:07 pm

    For my my mod-severe cat Twitch, I have tried several ways for him to access my tall bed. He would use steps, nor would he use an upholstered bench stool at the foot of the bed. My latest find is a slanted cat scratching post and this seems to be working. He climbs it to get to the top of the bed. I have noticed considerably less claw holes and no more tears in my duvet since trying this. I may eventually try something taller to totally eliminate the possibility of any claw holes.

  5. Kylie permalink
    August 25, 2014 4:08 pm

    I have soft, foam doggy stairs for my CH kittens to use, they use them to get up onto the bed, but Zack like to take a flying superman leap off the bed, which usually ends in a faceplant.
    I’ve started putting my dog’s bed on the side of my bed, next to the doggy stairs, so when Zack flies off the bed, he doesn’t get hurt. He and Rory also fall off the bed a lot when they are playing, so the bed keeps them safe!

  6. Taryn permalink
    February 27, 2015 3:29 pm

    These are great ideas! my CH kitten Porter will jump down on his own and usually rolls. tumbles and face plants in the process. Soft carpet in the bedroom has been a saving grace for that! Every now and then he lands almost perfectly on his feet hunched low, to which he gets a “good jump!” praise from me when I see it. 🙂 I will be looking into that step system on amazon that was posted above. I think he’ll use it to get up but probably still jump down.

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