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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It was a JOINT effort: Arthritic cat is on top of the world after owners build him a spiral staircase to get over garden fence

By Kerry Mcqueeney

Overcoming the im-puss-able: Ginger tabby Tom enjoying the spiral staircase built by owners Adrienne Ellery and Gareth Bowen

He might have been a little down in the whiskers after arthritis left him unable to get up the garden fence.

But this cat is now on top of the world since his owners built him a special spiral staircase to help him get out on the tiles.

Now Tom the ginger Tabby will be able to join the rest of his feline friends in style thanks to the contraption, which helps him get up the 8ft fence.

When 11-year-old Tom developed the painful condition in his joints, his owner Adrienne Ellery and her boyfriend Gareth Bowen, from Fulham, south-west London, became worried he would not be able to get enough exercise.

It was after Gareth, a retired firefighter, watched Tom struggling to jump over the fence he decided to build him the climbing aid. It took him a day to create the stairs using off-cuts of timber to make 12 steps slotted into the strut.

The stairs take Tom to the top of the wall, which he walks along to navigate the neighbourhood.

Gareth, 54, said: 'I was watching Tom and it was sad to see him struggle with the fence. Some days he could do it but when he came back down he was faced with an 8ft jump and he would land with such a thud that I knew it wasn't good for his joints, particularly with the arthritis.

Feline fine: Tom's painful joints meant he was unable to scale the 8ft fence... but now it's no problem

'I had some wood left over from building a fence so I started on a staircase.

'I knew Tom was an intelligent cat and would figure out how to use it. Adrienne thought I was mad but I thought I'd give it a go anyway.

'There's not a huge amount of room so the only solution was to create it in a spiral.

'I studied design and engineering at school and set about to work while Adrienne sat there with a glass of wine wondering if I had finally lost it.'

He added: 'When it was finished Tom didn't know what to make of it and I was a bit worried that he wouldn't figure it out.

Let miaowt! Owner Adrienne Ellery had to tempt Tom up the steps with food, but now he can't get enough of his new climbing frame

'But then Adrienne tempted him by putting some food on each step and then Tom couldn't wait to run up the stairs - it was as if he had used it all his life.

'On the way down he jumps the last few steps as a way of proving to himself that he can still do it.

'It's great because it means he's not stuck in the house and can be sociable with the other local cats.'

Family support worker Adrienne said: 'When Gareth told me what he wanted to do I was astonished and thought he was a bit mad.

'But it's made all the difference to the cat. It means he can get around the neighbourhood and as he's getting older it's important for his quality of life.

'Gareth's done an amazing job.'



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