GADGETS & ACCESSORIES

DIY Cat Scratcher: A Comfy and Satisfying Toy for Your Cat’s Clawing Cravings

Image showing two cone cat scratching
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

Cats love to scratch. In fact, scratching is what most people will answer if they’re asked what a cat’s favorite thing to do is. They scratch wood, carpets, your couch, and even you if they want to. Scratching comes as naturally to them as eating and sleeping, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t control the way they scratch. Rather than letting them tear up your furniture, it would be better for the both of you if you could focus their scratching habits on only one thing instead of everything and everyone: a DIY cat scratcher.

Cat scratchers can be bought in pet stores or online. However, the well-made ones that can stand the test of your cat’s sharp claws usually cost a lot. Fortunately, you can make one at home instead. You will be surprised at how easy it is. DIY cat scratchers are an inexpensive, durable, and more personalizable alternative to cookie-cutter scratchers. You will also feel accomplished after you make one since it is something your beloved pet will enjoy every day—scratch that—maybe several times a day.

Image of a DIY cat scratcher

Take note that you’re not just going to learn about one type of cat scratcher. We will explain how to make five different types of scratchers. Even if you’re not used to undertaking craftsmanship projects like this, and you only have the most basic tools at home, don’t worry since the requirements are very basic, and the steps are not as complicated as building a prestige cage for your cat. Despite that, we bet that your cat will love her new scratcher more than any gilded cage.

Scratcher # 1: The Scratching Board

The first scratcher is a scratching board. This is a common type that you can have at home as a toy, and as a nifty decoration elsewhere when the cat’s not using it.

Image showing a cat sitting on a cat scratching board

You need the following to get this done:

  • Wooden Board – You need a piece of wooden board. You either use a flat piece of wood that’s not too thick, yet not very thin either since the cat might break it. It should also only be a bit bigger or just the same size as the cat. Some also use old books or magazines.

  • Small Carpet – The carpet is the main attraction and the reason why cats will love to scratch it. You can either use a small carpet or a remnant or cutout of an old carpet.

  • Hammer and Nails/Tacks – For attaching the carpet to the wooden board. Whether you use nails or tacks doesn’t really matter.

How to Make It

Here are the steps you need to follow to create this cute scratching board:

  • Lay the rug upside down, then place the board in the middle of it while the rug rests on the floor.

  • Fold the edges of the rug towards the edges of the board, then hammer it with tacks or nails.

  • Do this on the three other edges.

  • Optional: If you’re using tacks, you can tack each part twice to ensure that it will be fully secured.

  • Cut the excess carpet off as it’s not needed anymore, and it can ruin the appearance of the board.

Once again, this board can be used as a part of your home’s decor. Simply by pinning some decorations such as plastic flowers or ribbons around the edge, you can turn this board into a beautiful centerpiece (just make sure that the middle part stays free of obstacles so your cat can sharpen her claws in peace). If you don’t care to add any aesthetics to it, you can treat it simply as a good old functional scratching board and place it next to your cat’s bed.

Scratcher # 2: Scratching Post

The second scratcher is shaped like a post. This is a convenient alternative for those who live in a small flat or an apartment as scratching boards take up more space.

A cat playing on a wall scratching post

The post can also be used as a more favorable decoration in your backyard since it has more features as an aesthetic piece even if you don’t add any decorations to it. Here are the materials you need to collect:

  • Carpet or Rope – As said earlier, a carpet is an essential since the fabric makes it excellent for cats to scratch. However, sisal ropes can also serve as a good material if you don’t have any old or spare carpets to use for the post. The ropes are just as easy as the carpet to install.

  • Wooden Board – You can use a thin wooden board as the base when building the post. Pick something that measures 3 x 5 feet for the base, although you can go for a bigger one if you’ve got a larger cat. Choose a non-toxic, natural wood for your cat’s safety.

  • Wooden Post – Purchase or craft a 4 x 4 inches piece of wood. Use a taller post if you want to use it as a decor and a scratcher at the same time. But if you only wish to use it as a cat’s toy, choose a shorter post. Once again, use natural wood only.

  • Drill and Screw OR Hammer and Nails – For attaching the base to the post. Whether you decide to make the rope or the carpet version, you will need the hammer and nails.

  • Marker and Scissors – For marking the carpet, and cutting along the marks.

  • Optional: Wood Square – Purchase or carve a beveled wood piece for the top of the post for aesthetics. You can skip this if you don’t plan to use the post as a decor.

  • Optional: Wood Glue or Non-Toxic Glue – Use a non-toxic glue for attaching the ropes if you’ve decided to make the rope version. You will also need it for attaching the beveled square.

How to Make It

Here are the steps on how to make a DIY cat scratching post. We will be focusing on how to make the carpet version, but we will include some optional steps if you opt for attaching ropes to the post:

  • Prepare the wooden board first by cutting a slab of wood or by purchasing a pre-made one. Be cautious when cutting the wood by yourself.

  • Attach the wood by placing it in the middle of the board. Be sure to wrap it tightly.

  • Drill the bottom of the base and the post, and screw them shut. Otherwise, you can just hammer the nails to the bottom.

  • Measure the scratching area by wrapping the carpet around the wood. Use a marker to draw lines on the areas that need to be cut.

    • If you plan to make the rope version, all you need to do is lather some glue around the post and wrap the rope from the bottom to the top. Secure the rope by nailing its end to the post. Skip all the remaining steps once you’ve done this as they are for the carpet version.

  • Once the carpet has been cut, wrap it around the pole until the other end of the carpet overlaps with the first end. You don’t need to glue the post anymore.

  • Nail the opposite sides of the overlapped ends, or you can nail every side. Don’t apply too many nails since it would be a waste.

  • If you will be using a wooden square for decorations, glue it to the top of the post. Otherwise, skip this step.

There is a reason why most of the commercial options out there belong to this category. A scratching post can be used as a piece of decoration and is large enough for your cat to play around with. The base of the board will support the post even when your cat jumps on top of it. As long as you build a durable and stable one, it also functions well as a perching spot.

Scratcher #3: Cardboard Scratcher

This version isn’t meant to be used as an optional decoration anymore. You will be using cardboard after all, so unless you have some serious artistic skills, you probably won’t be able to make it look elegant. Even if you can, we don’t recommend it since this option also has the lowest durability among all the types of cat scratchers you can make. Don’t want all that time-consuming detailing work to go to waste.

Cat scratch pad made of stacked corrugated cardboard.

However, this is the cheapest option (it could even be completely free of costs) since cardboards can be found everywhere. It’s also the easiest and fastest to build. It won’t take more than 30 or even 15 minutes of your time. Here are the materials you need to prepare beforehand:

  • Cardboard Box – It doesn’t matter what size or shape it might b.

  • Box Cutter – So you can easily divide the box into pieces.

  • Packing Tape – Any color of tape will do. You can match it to the color theme of your interior décor.

  • Optional Carpet or Rope – If you want to make the scratcher as cushiony and comfortable for your cat as possible, you can go ahead and use these. However, the cardboard box is usually enough to serve as a scratcher.

How to Make It

The following steps are very easy to do:

  • Cut the cardboard into lengthwise pieces. You need at least seven pieces to make it thick enough for your cat to pounce and scratch on.

  • Stack them together. Cut excess pieces so the width and length of all cardboards will be equal.

  • Bind them together with the packing tape. Tape near both ends of the cardboard stack.

  • Optional: Wrap the carpet tight and cut the excess. Use some tacks or a staple to bind the carpet to the cardboard stack.

    • If you’re using a rope, wrap the rope tight over the whole cardboard stack, but be sure to tie both ends of the rope at the first layer of the stack.

This is a quick, budget-friendly, and simple answer to your cat’s scratching needs. It is also softer than the post and the board. Unfortunately, it is not as durable as the board or the post since the cardboard could quickly wear out. But the optional step of wrapping a carpet or rope around it may keep the cardboard stack intact for a lot longer.

Scratcher # 4: Bookshelf Scratcher

This version involves two things that a cat loves: a soft fabric and an enclosed space. It’s also easy to prepare just like the cardboard scratcher.

A cat sitting on a Modular Cat Scratcher

Here are the materials you need:

  • The Bottom Part of a Bookshelf/Bookcase – This part of the furniture must be placed securely against the wall so the shelf won’t fall or tip over once your cat starts to get rough on it.

  • Carpet – You already know why you need this.

  • Cutter and Marker – For cutting the carpet.

  • Tape, Glue, or Tacks – For attaching the carpet to the bookshelf or bookcase.

How to Make It

You can get the following steps done within 10 to 15 minutes:

  • This might seem obvious, but you have to empty the bookshelf first before you start crafting this scratcher.

  • Measure the carpet by placing one end on the wall of the shelf, then hold the bottom and top parts to measure it.

  • Mark the areas that need to be cut. Lay the carpet on the floor first, then cut it into a fitting size.

  • Attach the carpet to the wall, then secure it to the bottom of the shelf by using a tape, glue, or some tacks.

  • Cut the excess carpet sticking off the shelf.

This is a very convenient type of scratcher to make if you have some unused bookshelves lying around. Your cat may also treat it as a napping spot. In fact, this is just as good as any commercial cat trees. Just prepare some small pillows that would fit inside the shelf, and your cat will see it as her own personal space.

Scratcher # 5: Spindle Scratcher

This final scratcher might be even easier to make than the previous two. But if you don’t have spindles on your staircase, or if the spindles are too tightly knit for you to work with, this version might not be advisable.

gray and black kitten playing with cat scratch

It’s also not advisable if you prefer that your cat stays outside, especially if you’re allergic to fur. However, this scratcher is perfect for those who don’t want their cats to go upstairs. Here are the things you need to make this scratcher:

  • Stair Spindles – Pick between the first to the third stair spindles only. Any higher and you risk your cat falling and hurting herself when she gets too into the scratching.

  • Carpet

  • Cutter – For cutting the excess carpet, and for dividing the carpet if you’re going to use more than one spindle.

  • Staple or Threads – For securing the two ends of the carpet together.

How to Make It:

The steps will take 10 minutes or less to follow through:

  • Wrap the carpet(s) over the spindle(s). You can wrap the whole spindle for aesthetic purposes.

  • Stitch or staple the carpet’s ends. Make sure to secure the carpet very tightly around the spindle, or it might slide off as your cat sharpens her claws on it.

Simple, no? This version is excellent for exercising your cat when climbing up and down the staircase, and it can even help them exercise jumping. If you have an older cat with joint problems or kittens that are still unstable on their feet, however, you should probably skip this one.

Wrap Up

Take note that no matter which version you choose, your cat will absolutely love it. We advised you to use soft and textured materials like carpets and ropes since cats love sharpening their claws on them.

Spare some time to make a DIY scratcher, and you won’t ever have to clean up scraps of carpet threads, wood, or cardboard debris again. You will also finally be free of the nightmares of ruined couches and furniture since your cat now has a permanent spot to go to whenever she feels like sharpening her claws. Another benefit is that it unleashes your creative side.

DIY Tire Cat Scratcher playing in house

Which DIY cat scratcher do you plan to make? Or are you already using a DIY cat scratcher at home? How did you make it and what type of scratcher is it? Please share your story with us by placing a comment in the section below!

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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