LIFESTYLE

DIY Cat Tunnel: The Benefits, Proper Usage, and Design Ideas

cat in a tunnel
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

Does your cat often appear scared? Does he prefer to hide in the closet? Is he always lying around, seemingly lacking in energy? If you answered these questions with an affirmative, then perhaps you should exert effort to increase his confidence and activity levels. One of the best ways to do so is to use a DIY cat tunnel.

Cats love narrow places like boxes, and tunnels are perfect because they can serve as a sanctuary for your cat where he can feel more comfortable and build more confidence while playing. You don’t need to spend money at all on a cat tunnel. You can make your own DIY cat tunnel using simple materials you likely have in your place.

In this post, we’ll share with you some tricks on how to make a DIY cat tunnel for your cat to play with. We’ll also discuss how a simple tunnel can do wonders for your cat’s mental health.

Why Give Your Cat a Tunnel?

cat playng with a tunnel

Our whiskered friends are very playful. They won’t hesitate to pounce on any opportunity to have fun, like jumping on an open box or going inside a cat tunnel. But there are also instances when cats are too frightened to play around.

Maybe there’s a new member of the family, and your pet is not yet comfortable being around that new member. Or perhaps you have just moved to a new house, and your feline friend has yet to adjust to that change.

Whatever the reason may be, you can help your cat regain his confidence and become more comfortable again by providing him with a cat tunnel. With a tunnel, your frightened cat can go inside it to calm down. Other people or pets around the house won’t be able to see him. Later on, your cat will be walking around in the open without feeling shy or insecure anymore when he is ready.

Another obvious benefit of giving your cat a tunnel is that it can give him another reason to exercise. Your cat would love running up and down the tunnel, which means he can stretch and exercise those muscles. Regular playtime and exercise can keep him in tip-top shape and reduce the chances of him getting sick.

Many cat parents also prefer that their pets play in a cat tunnel. After all, it is easier to control a cat’s movements with a cat tunnel. Cat parents feel more secure knowing that their pets are just around the premises instead of roaming the outdoors. Moreover, there are reduced chances of cats getting lost.

Then there are the practical reasons for giving your pet a cat tunnel. First, this cat accessory is portable enough for you to place anywhere in the house. You can even bring this with your pet when you go out of town.

Second, a cat tunnel can save other more expensive things in your household like furniture and sofa from being scratched by cats. Felines who play in a cat tunnel are more likely to scratch there instead.

This is very much true if you have fragile materials around your house like lampshades, mirrors, and trophies.  Cats playing around can break these things. But with a cat tunnel, your cat’s movement will be centered around the tunnel, and all those important items in your house will be spared from breakage.

All in all, cats love cozy places where they can get away from all the hustle and bustle if they want to. Just look at the close relationship between cats and boxes. Your cat will certainly love the cat tunnel you specially made for him more than even the coziest of boxes.

As you can see, there are numerous benefits to having a cat tunnel in your home. It is not only a playground for your cat but can also be a place to relax and sleep. And cats who are nervous and anxious about their surroundings will be able to regain their confidence when they regularly use a cat tunnel.

How to Make a DIY Cat Tunnel

You can always go online and shop for a cat tunnel. There are also numerous cat tunnels you can find in your local pet store. But why should you spend money when you can make one of your own? After all, cats don’t need an elaborate cat tunnel to play and have fun.

Aside from saving a few dollars, you may discover a hidden talent when you try this new project. DIY projects are fun, and your cat will appreciate all the effort you’ve put in for him.

#1: DIY Cat Tunnel Using Cardboard Boxes

cat tunnel made of boxes

Materials needed:

  • 3 – 4 cardboard boxes
  • Cutter
  • Tape

Step-by-step guide:

  • Using a cutter, slice and make two holes on both sides of a cardboard box. Make sure that the holes are big enough for your cat to crawl through. A diameter of 9 inches should be enough for an adult cat to get through.
  • If you have a large cat, you may have to remove the tops and bottoms of the boxes and then lay them on their sides.
  • Set aside the cardboard box then do the same for the remaining boxes.
  • Once all the boxes have been cut, line them up next to each other to make a ‘tunnel.’
  • Using the tape, connect the boxes. Secure the boxes together so that the DIY cat tunnel will stay in place once your cat crawls inside it.

That’s it! You now have a DIY cat tunnel using cardboard boxes. If you have enough space, you may want to elevate this tunnel on a sturdy base. Make sure that it will be strong enough for your cat’s play by pushing down the test base. Alternatively, you can add a large hole on top of the boxes so that your cat can leap out of the tunnel.

This is basically an indoor cat tunnel, meaning you can have it in your room or living area. It’s not recommended for use outdoors because a downpour can easily damage the boxes.

Another variation of this is using paper bags. Cut the bottom of the bags and fully open them. Then place a one-inch cuff on the ends of each bag to make them sturdier. Then tape the ends to form a tunnel.

See Also: DIY Cat Cave

#2: DIY Cat Tunnel Using Floor Mats

DIY Cat Tunnel Using Floor Mats

Do you want a DIY cat tunnel that you can use indoors or outdoors? Here’s another idea that you might want to try.

If you have a handful of old, thick floor mats that you are not using, then gather them and turn them into a DIY cat tunnel. Floor mats are not only more durable than cardboard boxes, but the surface is tempting for most cats to scratch.

Materials:

  • 2 – 3 floor mats or anti-fatigue mats
  • Heavy duty tape

Step-by-step guide:

  • Get a floor mat and curl it lengthwise so that it would look like a tube.
  • Secure both ends with the heavy duty tape.
  • While holding the curled floor mat on one hand, get the other mat.
  • Place one end of the second mat over the first mat then curl it.
  • Secure both ends with a heavy-duty

Depending on the number of floor mats, you can continue connecting the curled-up floor mats to make a longer cat tunnel.

Although this cat tunnel is more capable of withstanding the elements than the cardboard tunnel, this simple DIY cat tunnel may be best suited for indoor use.

#3: Outdoor DIY Cat Tunnel

Outdoor DIY Cat Tunnel

Here’s an outdoor cat tunnel which requires more materials and tools. However, it is a lot tougher than the two other cat tunnel models. You’ll also need basic carpentry skills to pull off the task. But if you are able to put this together, you can give your cat a permanent playground outside your home.

Materials:

  • Two deck planks
  • Deck screws
  • Drill (should be of the right size for the screws)
  • Galvanized fence staples
  • 2 x 4 lumber
  • Galvanized mesh
  • Galvanized fence staple
  • Hammer
  • Measuring tape
  • Brush
  • Wire cutter
  • Black plastic bag

Step-by-step guide:

  • Line up the two decks next to each other.
  • Using a measuring tape, measure the width of the two decks.
  • Cut the 2 x 4 lumber in strips. The length should match up with the width of the decks lined up next to each other.
  • Place the 2 x 4 lumber strips on the ground. These will be the bottom support pieces.
  • Next, add the two planks on top of the lumber strips.
  • Pre-drill the holes where the two planks will be attached to the lumber strips. This would prevent the wood from cracking.
  • Use 2 – 3 screws in order to attach the two planks to the lumber strips.
  • Once you have come up with a long walkway, prepare to attach the wire fencing.
  • Using the wire cutter, cut the wire fence to match the length of the tunnel walkway.
  • Attach the fence using the fencing staples. Hammer the wire fence to one side of the plank. Hammer staples into every second rectangle of the wire fence.
  • Once you have hammered the wire fence to the very end of the walkway, turn the plank around and hammer the other side as well.

That’s it. You now have an outdoor cat tunnel which your pet may play in. You may also place black plastic over the wire fence to conceal the inside of the tunnel and make it more engaging for your shy pet.

See Also: DIY Cat Tent

Tips in Using DIY Cat Tunnel

cat tunnel with a toy

In case your cat is not reacting positively to your DIY cat tunnel, don’t get disappointed.  Cats are often suspicious, especially when they see a strange new object like a cat tunnel. If he hasn’t used it a few hours after being introduced to the tunnel, then remove the tunnel and try again later or the following day.

You might also want to try any of these tips in using a DIY cat tunnel:

  • Place his favorite toy or treats into one end of the tunnel. This should encourage your reluctant cat to use the DIY cat tunnel.
  • If he still does not respond to the toy, then play with him! Get down on the floor and take a peek at one end of the tunnel. Call his attention and encourage him to crawl inside the tunnel.
  • Leave the cat tunnel out at night. Your cat may try to explore it when there are no people watching
  • Try to secure the tunnel by placing two pieces of heavy objects in between it. This should prevent the tunnel from rolling around once your cat walks through it.
  • You can also use the tunnel in guiding your cat to his necessities. For example, place the tunnel leading to his litter box. Or you can use it to guide your cat to his food. This way, your cat will feel more confident in using the tunnel you have just created.

Wrap Up

grey cat playing in tunnel

Cat tunnels may seem like a simple cat accessory, but as you have learned, these serve more functions apart from providing our whiskered friends with a place to play. Cat tunnels are highly-recommended for cats who, for one reason or another, may be scared or anxious about their surroundings. It can be a place for cats to relax and even sleep.

While there are many cat tunnels that you can buy online, you can make a DIY cat tunnel using everyday household items like cardboard boxes, paper bags, floor mats, wood, and galvanized mesh.

Hopefully, you have realized how easy it is to make a cat tunnel for your pet, and more importantly, your cat will love the tunnel you made with your own two hands more than any tunnel that money can buy. If your cat loves the tunnel so much that he won’t come out, you might want to check out our article on how to get a cat out of hiding.

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.

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