DIY Cat Scratching Post

August 29, 2012Allison Murray


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)


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.


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!

Comments (49)

  • Meryl

    August 29, 2012 at 9:50 PM

    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.

  • Allison Murray

    August 29, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    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. :)

  • Sophie

    August 30, 2012 at 10:09 PM

    This is a great post! The scratcher is awesome and your kitties are adorable.

  • Allison Murray

    September 2, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    Thanks so much, Sophie!!!

  • Rachel

    September 21, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    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!

  • Allison Murray

    September 21, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    I'm so glad to be of help, Rachel. Thanks for the link up!!! I'm so honored to be on "One Pretty Thing"!!!

  • mary

    October 31, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    LOVE IT!!!!!!!

  • dan

    January 15, 2013 at 4:43 AM

    Brains, beauty and a love for cats. You are quite awesome.

  • Allison Murray

    January 15, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    Now you've gone and made me blush, Dan. Thanks for being sweet :)

  • April

    January 23, 2013 at 2:09 AM

    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 :)

  • Allison Murray

    January 23, 2013 at 2:12 AM

    You are so sweet, April. Your encouraging words mean a lot!!

  • Chris

    February 6, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    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!

  • Allison Murray

    February 6, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    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!

    1. Tommy Catman

      July 1, 2014 at 9:41 PM


      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”.

  • Chris

    February 6, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    Awesome, thanks for the clarification!

  • Ellie

    February 10, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    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.

  • Allison Murray

    February 10, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    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!

  • Ellie

    February 10, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    Thank you so much!

  • Bill in Endicott

    March 3, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    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!

  • Allison Murray

    March 3, 2013 at 4:08 PM

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

  • Alicia

    June 4, 2013 at 1:15 AM

    I love this!! I'll have to make one for my cat

  • Allison Murray

    June 4, 2013 at 2:10 AM

    I am so glad, Alicia. Mine is still holding strong with 4 cats a'scratchin!!

  • Kayla

    December 31, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    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 :)

    1. Allison

      January 10, 2014 at 11:18 AM

      Oh, that is so great! You and your furniture are very welcome!

  • flatty

    February 13, 2014 at 2:59 AM

    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.


    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.

  • Ria Smits

    March 26, 2014 at 6:58 AM

    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

    1. Allison

      March 26, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      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 :)

  • Bev

    May 3, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    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.

  • Tommy Catman

    October 4, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    You have a unique twist on making this essential cat accessory. All in all, I’d give the design a “thumbs up.”

    Just offering you a source for sisal rope: at

    owner, feline design cat furniture

  • Holly

    October 23, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Thanks for this idea and design! Thanks to you I made my very first one this weekend and it’s a hit with our lynx point Bucket. I own a few power tools thanks to my husband, but have never used a tool more than a hammer to put up pictures of a saw to cut down our Christmas tree every year. I think it turned out alright. =D

    My final result is in my blog post below!

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  • Cat scratching posts

    December 16, 2015 at 12:07 AM

    Thanks for sharing great post. The scratcher is awesome and your kitties are adorable.

  • Emma

    May 16, 2016 at 7:07 PM

    What diameter of rope did you use?

    1. Allison Murray

      May 17, 2016 at 8:09 AM

      I used 3/8 inch.

      1. Emma

        May 20, 2016 at 9:18 AM

        Thank you! We’d been a two cat household for 11 years until one passed away last year. :( Tomorrow I’m getting two kittens (hopefully they will be good company for our current kitty!). I bought a $15 scratching post to hold me over, but I’m excited to make my own and customize it.

  • Smiling Paws Pets

    June 10, 2016 at 9:12 AM

    Your kittens are so cute! Me and mom made our own scratcher a few years back. Perhaps time to redo another one. Thanks Allison!

  • Sarah K

    August 21, 2016 at 12:45 AM

    Hello, this looks great but I’m doing a lot of researching before attempting. Did you use any glue at all to keep the rope in place? Like wood glue or a glue gun?

    1. Allison Murray

      August 24, 2016 at 9:02 AM

      I actually didn’t use any glue and out of my two attempts it worked better with just the nails. My version with the glue and less nails started to come undone a few weeks ago, largely because my cats like to hang off of it while scratching so I’ll be redoing it with nails again soon.

  • Millie Schmitz

    April 9, 2017 at 3:52 PM

    Did you consider using the old scratching post? Or was it still in use while you made the new one? I bought one that looks similar to your purchased post but it is square. I haven’t taken the old sisal off but thought I could just use it as the base for the sisal rope version. Thank you for the post and your comments about using nails versus glue. I was concerned that the glue might be harmful to my cat. Thank you so much.

    1. Allison Murray

      April 9, 2017 at 6:52 PM

      Hey, Millie. I did actually have the store-bought one on hand while I made the other. It was great because they always had something to scratch on. The inside of the purchased one, like the roll underneath the sisal stuff, was a cardboard like material and it wouldn’t have lasted much longer. Good luck and I hope your kitties love their new scratcher :)

  • Steve Miller

    May 26, 2017 at 1:10 PM

    One more tip: Natural fiber rope shrinks in hot water. After you get your rope wrapped tightly around the post pour a pot of boiling hot water over it. The wood will expand slightly and the rope will shrink and tightly grip the post.

  • Michael Manes

    May 1, 2019 at 9:05 PM

    Allison, thank you for posting this. We have a new kitten we found in our garage and before he starts using our sofa as a scratching post I want something that will match our decor and made from materials I can find in our basement. Brilliant. Thank you.

  • Billi Chavez

    March 16, 2020 at 10:29 PM

    Hi thank you for posting this I am just finishing mine up but where did you get a cap for top? I’ve googled cat scratch post tops caps etc. Finding no results 🙁

    1. Allison Murray

      March 17, 2020 at 4:34 PM

      Hi! You can get a 4×4 wood cap here on Amazon. You can also get a simpler one from Lowe’s for around $3-4. You can search online for “wood 4×4 cap” or if you go into a hardware store, the caps will be in the section for outdoor deck building. Best of luck find one :)

  • Camila

    June 13, 2020 at 4:27 PM

    Hi, I’m getting my first ever kitten in a few weeks. I want to make him a scratching post. I have a quarter inch 24×24 piece of ply wood do you think that will work for the base? Is it too thin? I can always use 3M tape to adhere it to my Wood floor…???

    1. Allison Murray

      June 17, 2020 at 3:24 PM

      1/4″ is definitely a bit too thin. While a kitten it may be okay but as your kitty grows it will tip over when it gets used. I’d suggest grabbing a thicker piece of plywood. Best of luck and congrats on the new kitten!

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