Stretch and Claw the Natural Way. Make a DIY Scratch Post.

In nature, cats scratch on trees to stretch their bodies and maintain their claws. If left without a similar outlet in your home, you may have noticed your cat replicating this behavior on your furniture or drapes. 

As we get ready for Maker Faire in New York City, September 21-22, 2013, we’ve noticed there are an increasing number of ideas online for things like scratching surfaces you can make for cat.

You can find all sorts of scratchers on the market made from corrugated cardboard or wrapped in sisal. But scratch posts can be fun to make and can be customized to match your décor. 

Try out this plan shared by our friends Joe and Shelley at Pet Tree Houses. What started as a DIY project for these former home builders has turned into a second career crafting beautiful indoor tree houses for cats. Here’s their spin on a natural scratch post.   

What You’ll Need

- Tree Log – Recommend using a hardwood like Oak, Maple or Redwood with the bark intact. The log should be at least 2 inches in diameter and around 3 feet in length. We’re repurposing a Walnut limb that came down in a storm.
- Scrap Wood for Base - We’re using ¾-inch plywood at least 16 inches square. Just make sure it’s non-toxic and unfinished.
- A Carpet Square or remnant at least 16 inches square – You can get either from a home improvement or flooring store.
- A pencil
- A staple gun or strong double-sided tape
- Two (2) 3-inch wood screws
- A straight edge
- An electric drill/screw driver with bits and driver heads
- A saw
- Sand paper
- Eye and ear protection
- Optional: Sisal cord rope from a home improvement store. Sisal comes in a variety of widths. The wider the rope, the longer it will last. You’ll need approximately 50 feet of rope.

How to Make It

1. You’ll want the scratcher to be at least as long as your cat from the tip of his or her nose to the tip of the tail. This way, it will be tall enough for her to get a good stretch. We measured ours at 34 inches to leave a little extra.

DIY scratch sawing

To make sure the log stands straight and firm on the base, use your saw to make a nice straight at both ends of the log.

2. Optional - Vertically staple one end of your sisal rope to the bottom of your log. Begin to wrap the rope as tightly as possible around the log until you get around 6 inches from the top of the log. Vertically staple that end and trim any remaining rope. Make sure you staple vertically to prevent your cat from catching claws on the staples. 

3. Cut your plywood base to the desired dimension. We’re using an 18-inch square carpet tile for this scratcher. Use the sand paper to smooth any rough edges.

DIY scratch base saw

4. Using your straight edge and pencil, draw a line from corner to corner on the plywood. Repeat from the opposite corners. They will intersect in the center. Next, mark two screw locations based on the diameter of your log. Since ours was 5 inches thick, we marked our holes 3 inches apart to leave some room between the screw and the outer edge of the log. 

5. Drill two pilot holes for the screws in the locations you’ve marked.   

6. Trim some lengths of the double sided tape and run them along the outer edge of your plywood base. And run some additional lengths from the corners in towards the center.

If you use a carpet remnant, you’ll want to wrap it around the base like you’re stretching a canvas and use the staple gun to attach the carpet to the underside of the base.

Either option works well. And allows you the flexibility to replace the carpet when it wears out or you want to change the look. 

7.  Peel the backing off the double sided tape and affix your carpet square to the base. Try to align the edge of the carpet square flush with the edge of your plywood base. 

DIY scratch carpet

8. Working from the bottom of the base, drive the two wood screws through the pilot holes so they just poke through the carpet on the other side.

DIY scratch prepping screws

9. Center the log on the top of the base and finish driving the screws home until the log is secured.

10. Your scratcher is ready for action. Consider placing gripper furniture pads on the bottom to protect the flooring in your home.

DIY scratch attaching log

Initially, your cat may be tentative to the presence of this new element to your home. So be patient and reward to reinforce positive interactions until he or she gets the hang of it.

Have you put your spin on a scratch post or surface for your cat? Share it with our Purina ONE® Cats community on Facebook.

Or gather more inspiration for your own DIY projects for your cat on our Pinterest board.

For other ideas for bringing enrichment to your cat’s day, check out the Purina ONE® Cat Journal.