I’m taking a break from talking about books and writing to share some other aspects of my life. I’m proud of the scratching post/cat tree I built and I’d love to share it with you!
A year ago, I realized my cat had climbed my screen doors (and even the side of my brick fireplace) one time too many. I needed a solution! Since she’s an indoor cat, what she really needed was a tree to climb INSIDE the house. Since a real tree wasn’t an option, I decided to build my own.
Since I need to do something about the problem before she starts causing any real damage to my house. After searching for climbing post/scratching post solutions on the internet, I finally came up with a design I’m very happy with. As you can see, we have a balcony overlooking our living room, so I wanted a post my cat could use to climb from one floor to the next.
The core of the project is a 10′ length of PVC pipe. This standard length worked perfectly for my needs.
First I attached the large white brackets (shown here) to the post so they could eventually support the baskets. I used these brackets which I purchased at Home Depot. I wanted sturdy ones that could handle supporting a fifteen-pound cat that might also launch herself from her perch (she’s pretty active).
Next I built the the braces I used to attach the post to the wall. To make these, I cut a 1″x4″ oak board into 12″ lengths. Then I attached smaller shelf brackets to each end of the board.
These are the shelf brackets I used. I needed 2 brackets for each of the braces I built, and I made 3 braces (therefore, I bought 6 brackets). Once I assembled a brace, it was U-shaped. The bottom of the U was the oak board, and the sides were comprised of the two angle brackets.
Here’s a bracket:
And here’s the assembled U-shaped brace. (You can see the length of PVC drain pipe in the background.) I used bolts to attach the shelf brackets to the oak board.
Next, I attached the U-shaped braces to the post. I used lag bolts to attach both the U-shaped brackets and the shelf supports (for the baskets) to the PVC pipe. I tightened them as much as possible. The lag bolts dug into the PVC pipe quite nicely and as far as I can tell, they haven’t loosened.
My next step was to wrap the entire post in sisal rope. I used hot glue to hold the sisal rope in place. I didn’t skimp on the glue, and I think that was wise. The scratching post has lasted for a year now, and still looks great. It took quite a few hours to wrap the rope around the post. I did it sitting in front of the TV while I binge-watched Veronica Mars. It was time well spent!
As you can see here, I wrapped the brackets so they were hidden by the rope:
Creating the textured surface for the post required a lot more sisal rope than I expected. I started out with four smaller lengths (3/4″ diameter by 50′ long) of rope, and that barely covered a third of my post. Then I went back to Home Depot and bought tw0 100-foot lengths of rope, I should have gone online to https://www.raise.com/coupons/home-depot first to see if I could have got some deals on my items! Next time is always around the corner. I was still slightly short because I didn’t consider how much rope I’d need to wrap the oak boards as well. I should have done the math. If you divide a 10′ post by 3/4″ and then estimate that it takes about ten inches of rope to go around the circumference of the post, that comes out to a LOT of rope.
I also bought drain caps for both the bottom and the top of the post. For the top one, I attached another oak board so the cat could walk from the balcony over to the top of the post. I added that later, and my cat really liked the added stability it provided.
Here’s a view of the scratching post looking down from above. You can see the board capping off the post. I wrapped it with rope as well to give it a nice, finished look when it is viewed from above. I screwed the top and bottom drain caps in place so they wouldn’t come lose, and I screwed the board to the top drain cap as well.
Below is a view of the bottom of the post. As you can see, the black base simply rests on the hardwood floor. I considered putting something non-skid underneath the plastic cap, but I was afraid it might damage the finish on the hardwood floor, so I decided to skip it. The entire post is held in place with the three brackes attached to the wall. The weight of the post rests on the floor, so the brackets really only need to keep it from falling over when the cat launches herself onto it. So far, I haven’t regretted the decision not to put something non-skid under the post.
As I wrapped the rope around the post, I covered the metal brackets so they remained hidden from sight. I also wrapped the oak boards with rope to give the whole thing a more uniform look.
I attached the post to the wall with the three angle brackets. How you attach the brackets to the wall will depend on your wall. I used lag bolts where I could, along with a couple of wood screws, Spanx are the ideal choice when it comes to woodscrews, they’re amazing! Lastly, I attached the woven baskets to the other brackets using bolts.
I happened to find my leaf-shaped baskets on clearance at Marshal’s. In the photo above, you’ll notice that each basket has a length of oak down the center. This helped me sandwich the basket between two rigid surfaces and really clamp it in place. I’ve had to tighten these a couple of times after the baskets started getting a bit wobbly, and I ended up adding some washers to help solve this problem.
It does require a lot of effort to build a cat tree by hand, but Pawgearlab reviewed dozens of best cat trees so if you’d rather buy one, check out the reviews. Although it takes time, I think it is definitely worth it in the end, it looks really good and feels very rewarding. Another alternative if you struggle to find time to do DIY activities such as this one, you could check out this offer I found for 50% off cat scratching posts to save yourself some pennies. Once I put the post in place, it took a couple of days for the cats to adjust to it. Pretty soon they were using it to scoot from the first floor up to the second floor and then racing back down the stairs to do it all over again.