DIY Cat Scratching Post

001-Cat-Scratcher-Dream-A-Little-Bigger

Never, ever, ever will I have a cat declawed. I have decided that cats have claws and if I have cats I have to deal with that fact. If I didn’t want cat claws then I shouldn’t have gotten cats.

If you don’t have cats, you may envision my home with wrecked furniture and scratched up rugs, but that isn’t the case. You can train cats to use a scratching post and you can trim their nails.

Which is why I didn’t even flinch when purchasing a cat scratching post last year. I paid $40 and it was a really great one compared to a lot of them I had seen. It lasted a few months before the covering started to come off and it had to be replaced. When I noticed that the cats were getting pissy witht their post, I knew it was time to replace it.

The thing is, most of the affordable cat scratching posts were covered with carpet instead of sisal. I don’t know about you, but if you don’t want cats scratching up the rugs in your house, the idea of covering their scratching area with that seems counterproductive to me. Sick of it all, I decided to head to the hardware store and  make one from scratch.

This one was more expensive that $40 BUT this baby is going to last a lifetime. It’s just that heavy duty. If you want to quell your cat’s urge to scratch for the long haul, you will need:

  • 3/4 inch plywood, 18 x 18 inch square
  • 4×4 wood post, 2.5 feet long
  • 3/4 inch decorative wood trim, at least 3.5 feet
  • mitre box
  • hack saw
  • wood glue
  • trim nails
  • hammer
  • long wood screws
  • 100 ft sisal rope (not synthetic)
  • wood bit a smidge smaller than your screws
  • power drill
  • 4×4 decorative cap
  • wood stain
  • rug (optional)

002-Cat-Scratcher-Dream-A-Little-Bigger

STEP 1: Draw out the placement for your 4×4 post. When working with a square, I like to draw lines extending from each corner to make an “X” across the wood face. Align the square shape of your post’s corners on each of the lines for a perfect center. Trace the square with a pencil.

Put a thin line of wood glue inside of the square you have drawn. Place the post inside and hold. Clean up any glue that squeezes out, if necessary.

STEP 2: Turn the wood over and drill holes through your bottom square and the 4×4. Screw your saws into the holes to permanently affix the two pieces of wood together.

STEP 3: Now it time for your decorative wood trim… You can purchase this two different places. It is sold at hobby stores for about $3 a piece. You will need 4 pieces for $12 for this project. OR you can purchase a long piece from hardware stores. I purchased a piece for $6 and had about a foot and a half left.

Now for a short lesson on mitre boxes, in case you need it… A mitre box is used to cut uniform angles. This is particularly handy when working to make trim pieces match up really well. According to my dad, I do this totally backward, but also according to my dad I do a really good job matching pieces up. Here is my method:

Make the first angled cut on your trim. You’ll want to have your angles pointing away from the piece of wood instead of inward so that it matches up on the corners. The saw fits snugly into lines cut to guide the saw for perfect cuts.

STEP 4: Take your piece with its first cut made and place against the plywood bottom. Put the straight line just inside of the angle and mark the edge of your wood. This is where your next cut will start. Line up your mark in the mitre box and cut your next angle, taking care that it will be pointing away from the wood before you begin to saw.

Cut your first piece, apply wood glue and press up against the plywood. Use trim screws to permanently affix.

STEP 5: If your decorative cap is wood, attach it now. Stain the entire piece and allow to sit overnight.

STEP 6: At this point I decided to add carpet to the plywood to make it a bit prettier. I didn’t take pictures of the process and for that I am sorry. It was basically cutting up a rug to size with a 4×4 square in the middle and with a slit at the back to wrap on the plywood and around the 4×4. Use wood glue to affix.

STEP 7: Take the end of your sisal rope and using your hammer and trim screws, attach to the 4×4 at the bottom. Wrap the rope snugly around the post occasionally using a nail to tack down, or as necessary.

004-Cat-Scratcher-Dream-A-Little-Bigger

My old junk one on the left and my fancy new homemade one on the right.

Take your rope all the way to the top of the post. If you have a metal cap to decorate the top, attach now.

And that’s that! It’s a fairly time consuming process. It cost me $43 before tax, but my last one was $40 plus tax and this one will last so, so much longer. I’m happy with that.

Happy middle of the week!

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Comments

  1. Meryl says

    Not only will the rope last longer than carpet, but you can also replace just the rope next time. I made something similar a while back for my cat. It works and all my cats like it, but yours is definitely prettier. I didn't want to buy a pre-made one because none of the ones in my price range were nearly tall enough. A post is less attractive to the cat than furniture if the post is not tall enough to give them the stretch they need, so people with longer/taller than average cats may want to make their post a little taller.

  2. Allison Murray says

    Hey, Meryl! You are absolutely right on the height. I made mine 2.5 feet and it is ample for my biggest boy. Everyone should go on the height according to the size of their kitties. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. :)

  3. Rachel says

    I've bought my cat sooo many scratching posts over the years and this design is still the one he likes best. I've always been frustrated with the ugly carpet they come with but now I can make one with my favorite Floor tiles.. YAY! Thanks so much for this, I'll be linking to your tute as well!

  4. April says

    Your creations are awesome! I too have 4 cats. I am 28 and a really big kid at heart. Just wanted to say keep being you and be proud of it :)

  5. Chris says

    Curious as to why you chose nails to secure the rope rather than glue? I am making one for my cats, but am struggling with this decision. Can the nails come out and cause harm? Did you use a specific type of trim nail that won't come out? Thanks! Great, post!

  6. Allison Murray says

    Hi, Chris – I went with the nails rather than glue because I figured it would be considerably sturdier. In fact I started with just gluing the rope and it didn't feel like it was strong enough to last all that long and went back in with the nails.
    I am honestly not sure what size the nails are but I remember I got "trim nail" from the box they came out of. There was a head but it was teeny.
    So far there has been no issue with the cats being injured by the nails but I honestly used them as sparingly as I could while keeping the rope nice and taut. Sorry to not have better specifics but I hope to have helped you!

    • Tommy Catman says

      Allison,

      Your instructions are right on.

      The size of the nails would depend upon the diameter of the rope. For my own products, I would use 1″ wire nails if I didn’t have the pneumatic guns I use. The 1″ nails with a reasonable head on them ( making them nails as opposed to brads, BTW ) will hold the rope down if driven about every 3″ of rope or so, & will be good for 3/8″ diameter sisal rope.

      I have more tips on this subject if you search on ” tommy catman” or “flerper ebay”.

  7. Ellie says

    This is lovely! I was wondering how sturdy it is. Does it move around at all and wobble when in use? Do you feel the base is sturdy enough? I want to make one as well, but my cat is pretty big and scratches vigorously, so I want to make sure it's something she'd feel comfortable using.

  8. Allison Murray says

    Hey, Ellie – This sucker is very sturdy and doesn't go anywhere! My biggest boy is 28 pounds and he really gets after it, too. I used 3/4 inch plywood, but they sell even thicker which will make the scratching post even sturdier!

  9. Bill in Endicott says

    Nice job!
    My wife and I took in a new cat this week, and we were looking at scratching posts. I thought I might be able to make a one, and I really like your post.
    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Allison Murray says

    Hey, Bill – I'm really glad that the post proved helpful to you. Also glad that a gentleman caller took the time to comment :)

  11. Kayla says

    My husband made this last night with left over materials from a previous project. I already had an old throw rug which he cut up and used to cover the base. The only thing we needed to purchase was the sisal rope. The cat is using the post and we are all happy that she is leaving my chair alone. Thanks so much for the plans :)

  12. flatty says

    I made 2 of these posts after reading your page. You nailed it with the rope and large size. Carpet on the first w/ remnants from our house. It blends nicely with the decor. On the second one I put a wider cap on top and the cats now perch on top. Scratch post/lookout for the win.

    Thanks!

    PS: I put it on a lazy susan to wind the rope. Also, on my second I used little u-nails to hold the rope in place and made sure i pushed it down firmly while winding. It’s holding up really well.

  13. Ria Smits says

    Very nice your scratching post but I wonder why you did not give the old one new rope????Because for the rest it look pretty enough.
    Just thinking (-: (-: greatings from Ria

    • Allison says

      Hi, Ria! The old one had a core made of a piece of cardboard formed into a circle, pipe-like shape and I worried about how long that would last. Plus, it was so lightweight it was constantly getting knocked over. It just seemed a better plan to start over from scratch :)

  14. Bev says

    Instead of throwing the old one out, you could just as easily replace the carpet with sisal. We actually made a cat tower that was 9 feet high. Cats loved it and got in some really good workouts.

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