Sunday, April 12, 2020

The CatsWall: Modular Cat Shelves

Have you ever looked at your empty walls and thought, 'What can I do to turn this wasted space into free real estate?' If you're someone who lives in a small house or apartment, but also still has cats to share that small space with, these shelves might be the answer you've been searching for.

So there is a modular shelving system made for cats created by CatsWall Design in Taiwan. I have been eyeing this CatsWall shelving for years, but couldn't import it due to the high cost of international shipping. But recently I found out that they now have a domestic distributor - still very expensive, but at least it was possible to get it delivered locally.

Firstly, this is probably the kind of thing only a crazy... I mean serious... cat enthusiast would purchase. It's a bit like wanting to buy a luxury car, even though you could get a much uglier, cheaper car with less features for far less cost. But sometimes you see something shiny, and you just have to try it. The Catswall is one of those things. 

I suggest you consider all of the following before splurging on the CatsWall:


1. Expand territory for cats
2. Make use of empty wall space
3. Can change layout of shelves and boxes
4. Allow older cats to move vertically easier
5. May keep cats off you and your desk
6. Can get custom wall sizes


1. Cats might not use it
2. May make the room look cluttered or not match decor
3. Very expensive and could use generic fixed shelving
4. DIY or handyman required to install at extra cost
5. Will require drilling holes into your wall

Here is my full review of the CatsWall modular shelving. I will include photos of the installation and the end result below.

Before you go and request a quote, decide which wall you want this CatWall to go up on, and measure the available space you have to install it. If you already have other furniture up against the wall, such as a desk or sofa, you only need the CatWall to go above the existing furniture for the cats to access it.

In my case, I ended up with this:

Wall 1: 180cm wide x 91cm tall

    3 x Cat Boxes
    2 x Large perches
    2 x Medium perches
    2 x Small perches
    7 x 60cm aluminium slats  (7 x 12cm = 84cm tall)
    7 x 120cm aluminium slats (7 x 12cm = 84cm tall)

60cm + 120cm = 180cm

    Coloured vinyl: Blue
    All screws and caps with the wall.

Total inc GST and delivery  = AUD $1500.00

Wall 2: 100cm wide x 143cm tall

    2 x Cat Boxes
    2 x Large perches
    2 x Medium perches
    2 x Small perches
    9 x 60cm aluminium slats  (9 x 12cm = 108 cm tall)
    9 x 40cm aluminium slats (9 x 12cm = 108 cm tall)

60cm + 40cm  = 100cm

    Coloured vinyl  - White
    All screws and caps with the wall.

Total inc GST and delivery  = AUD $1142.93

So here's an important detail you need to know about installing these CatWalls. They require a piece of formply to be cut to the same size as your shelving and then pre-screwed into your wall. You will have to find the studs in your wall, go out and buy the 17mm thick formply, transport the formply back home, and then drill it into your wall before you can begin to install the CatWall itself. Everything comes as a flat pack, so you'll have to assemble the cat boxes yourself as well.

Our local hardware store had a helpful sign up to let everyone know that they don't cut formply. This meant that we could not fit the larger sized piece of formply into the car, unless we dragged it out into the parking lot and sawed it in half there.

CatWall 1

Also, there was something very strange about the larger wall which I had planned on installing the CatWall. The studs couldn't be located with a stud finder, and for some peculiar reason they weren't straight. This meant that the formply had to go up in one big piece. So after a bunch of drilling by several different people, we finally got the larger piece of formply installed. It ended up being a lot more trouble than anticipated.

CatWall 2

But the smaller CatWall went up fine, no outside assistance required. It was significantly smaller than the stock image would have led you to believe, so a lot of the shelves we got ended up being redundant, unless we decide to replace the boxes with them.

Once the initial formply backing is installed, the actual installation of the CatWall onto the formply is quite easy. You start by screwing the bottom row of aluminium slats in first, making sure they are as level as possible. Then all the other aluminium slats sit nicely on top of the first row, and so are very simple to screw in. You can drill one screw in per aluminium slat to fix it in place, while you keep stacking up the rows to see if the entire thing looks level before drilling in all of the screws.

The different lengths of aluminium slats are supposed to be staggered with each row, so alternate slat lengths are next to one another, but we didn't notice that part of the instruction manual until after we put up the first wall. Oops. It didn't make much difference to the end result, though.

After all the aluminium slats go up, you should probably try and tap in all the white plastic end caps. You might need a hammer to get these caps in. If you try to do this last, you risk damaging the ends of the colored vinyl tape.  

With the CatWall installed, the finishing touch is sticking on the colored vinyl tape. The tough part of this is cutting it at the correct length once you get to the edge of the wall. 
You want the end of the tape to be slightly overlapping the white end cap, so the silver aluminium underneath is not exposed. Oddly, the thin blue tape we received was pre-cut shorter than the length of the wall, and I had to stick on a separate piece to cover the rest of the required length.

There are instructions on how to put together the cat boxes, and I suggest not tapping in the little wood cork stoppers until you're absolutely sure you've assembled all the pieces correctly. Otherwise, it will be hard to get them out to unscrew the pieces. If you really have to get the cork stoppers out, you can drill a small screw into the middle of each one and pull them out. But ideally you don't want to do that, as it's a pain and very time consuming. The completed cat boxes are very smooth and sleek looking, they are my favorite part of the CatWall system.

Finally, you can place the shelves and cat boxes onto your CatWall. This is where the modular feature of this system comes in. If for some reason your cat is having trouble getting around your current shelf configuration, you can easily tilt each component up off the aluminium track and change the position.

But will your cat actually use this CatWall? So far I've had them up for about a week and one cat uses the smaller CatWall as somewhere private to eat. The larger CatWall is mostly used as a staircase to get up and down from the cupboard. The cats are not very trusting of the smallest shelf, as it has a bit of movement when they step onto it. I will be putting cushions into the boxes to encourage them to sit in those more, but for the moment they are mainly being used as steps. If they end up not using them, I can still use them for plant display and storage.

So would I recommend the CatWall? Well, if you really like the look and design of the CatWall, it could be worth the high cost. But if you don't mind settling for some fixed shelves from Ikea, that would be a much cheaper option, especially if your cat doesn't enjoy climbing. Although, most cats I've met generally choose to sit in the highest spot they can find, preferably next to a sunny window.

If you live in a small home with a free wall, this will provide your cat with extra territory without sacrificing valuable floor space. If you have a large empty wall, I would recommend installing a larger CatWall, as this can turn that vertical space into a huge cat playground and encourage exercise. Even if your cat isn't too interested in it, the CatWall still provides custom storage options that can also double as cat stairs.

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