“Catscraper”: DIY Cat Scratching Post

"Catscraper" | DIY cat scratching post / scratcher made from recycled cardboard

I’m excited to share this new DIY project with you guys! I’ve been working on it for several weeks now (months if you count the planning phase). It might look a little familiar to some of you – it’s inspired by the “Sky Scratcher” made by Mike Estes. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? Riiight? I’ve been a big admirer of his Chicago and New York skyscraper-shaped scratchers that sell for $149 – beautiful pieces but a bit out of my price range. I figured I could make my own version with a few supplies and all the cardboard boxes I get (online shopping is my guilty pleasure). For less than $10 in materials and my handy homemade template, you can make one too. Fair warning: this project is time consuming!

"Catscraper" | DIY cat scratching post / scratcher made from recycled cardboard

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • template
    • [9/13/2016 update: Viviane Drakides designed her own based on the Empire State Building. Check out her design + get her template here]
  • corrugated cardboard (shipping boxes work nicely and it’s free!)
  • 36″ wood dowel with a 3/4″ x 3/4″ square width ($1.67 from Home Depot)
  • 12″ x 12″ x 1/2″ birch plywood board (a single board costs $5.49 from Michaels)
  • 1-1/2″ wood screw
  • X-Acto knife + refills
  • cutting mat
  • power drill
  • Optional: Foam board for template, Rotary paper edger

"Catscraper" | DIY cat scratching post / scratcher made from recycled cardboard

Step 1: Drill hole into center of board

Mark the center of your board. Place between two sturdy chairs and drill a hole into the center. My cordless drill wasn’t powerful enough to get the screw through so I used a 7/64″ bit. If you have a corded drill, you can probably skip this and use the wood screw – it shouldn’t require any pre-drilling.

"Catscraper" | DIY cat scratching post / scratcher made from recycled cardboard

Step 2: Drill hole into center of dowel

Use the screw and your drill to make an indent in the center of the dowel. This will make the next step a little easier.

"Catscraper" | DIY cat scratching post / scratcher made from recycled cardboard

Step 3: Screw dowel into base

Drill the screw all the way through the board. Using a screwdriver to hold the screw in place, take the dowel in your other hand and twist it onto the screw. Keep twisting until it’s securely on. Doing this by hand gives you greater control and ensures that it gets attached straight.

Note: Since the screw head isn’t flat, I find that the piece wobbles on hard surfaces (it sits fine on carpet). If you have hardwood or tiled floors, you can try sanding down the center of the board just enough so the screw doesn’t touch the floor.

"Catscraper" | DIY cat scratching post / scratcher made from recycled cardboard

Step 4: Cut out templates

Print out a template of the building levels here (7 total). Trace it onto foam board (or cardboard) and cut the pieces out.

"Catscraper" | DIY cat scratching post / scratcher made from recycled cardboard

Step 5: Trace onto cardboard

Use your new template to trace the shapes onto cardboard. For a clean look, try to keep the grain direction and thickness of the cardboard consistent. I made sure the front of my scratcher (bottom of the “H” shape shown in the example above) was always against the grain.

"Catscraper" | DIY cat scratching post / scratcher made from recycled cardboard

Step 6: Cut along outline

Cut along the outline with an X-Acto knife. The blade will get dull so be sure to replace it when necessary. You can try using a rotary paper edger for the longer cuts. I personally found it a bit difficult to keep the cut straight so I ended up using the X-Acto knife for most of this project.

"Catscraper" | DIY cat scratching post / scratcher made from recycled cardboard

Step 7: Assemble layers

Stack the cardboard pieces onto the dowel until each level (marked accordingly on the template) reaches the heights listed below. Don’t glue the layers together. That way you can easily replace any section that gets damaged from overuse.

  • Level 1:  2.25″ stack height
  • Level 2:  3.25″ stack height
  • Level 3:  2.25″ stack height
  • Level 4:  1.75″ stack height
  • Level 5:  1.5″ stack height
  • Level 6:  17″ stack height
  • Level 7:  4.5″ stack height

… and BOOM. Instant cat magnet. Kittles took to his new scratching post quickly. He’s been rubbing against, stretching on, and scratching the heck out of it. I and my achy hands are relieved he loves it.

"Catscraper" | DIY cat scratching post / scratcher made from recycled cardboard

A note about the roof: I made mine with an arched top but didn’t include those templates. I had started out trying to replicate the Chrysler building (can you tell?) but found the iconic arches really, really hard to make (at least ones that look remotely decent). If you want a singular arch like mine, use the level 7 template and shave off about 1/2″ on each corner. Do this 5 times. Or just leave the top flat. I think it looks just as nice.

"Catscraper" | DIY cat scratching post / scratcher made from recycled cardboard

So what do you think? Let me know if you make one too! I had so much fun with this I might try to replicate Taipei 101 next!



61 thoughts on ““Catscraper”: DIY Cat Scratching Post

  1. Pingback: Simple Cardboard DIY Catscraper | Shelterness

  2. Oh my GOD, your cat looks exactly the same as my cat from behind! Even the collar is the same colour! You can see my cat here: . My only concern with this cardboard is that doesnt it break apart easily when the cat scratches it? My cat goes pretty wild on her post, climbing on it etc. so my dad built a diy scratching post for her as well using a large wooden block and spiralling rope aroundit. Otherwise, this looks great and it looks like it matches your room as well!

    • Kittles was sadly declawed by his previous family (I adopted him about a year and a half ago). It’s not something I condone and would undo it if I could. With that said, I’m honestly not sure how bad the cardboard would get from a cat’s claws. Both sides are identical so you can always turn it around if it gets damaged (or just cut out new layers and replace the section).
      And I agree, our cats are back twinsies! Yours has such a cute face too 🙂

    • I made this last month and have two cats that are not declawed and it is holding up really well. Because the cardboard layers are so thick, it helps to stop the cardboard from breaking apart. I haven’t had any annoyances with cardboard bits everywhere. Here they are playing with the “catscraper”:

  3. Cool, but my cat is picky about scratching, (about anything I think) so I don’t know if it would work, but maybe I’ll try in winter, it’s finally good weather here.

  4. Pingback: Homemade Cat Scratching Post « Live More Daily | Live More Daily

  5. What a great idea! I just moved a month ago and when I broke down the boxes and stacked them my cats were using them as scratching posts. I thought at the time how great it would be to create a scratching post using the cut edges of the cardboard…then I came across this site…thanks.

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    • Yikes, I’m not sure. I should’ve kept a record. If I have to guess, I probably collected boxes over a 5 month period while receiving 4-5 packages per month. I only ended up using about half of what I collected so I’d guesstimate 11 boxes. It also depends on the size. Most of mine were medium/large size boxes (approximately 22x8x10). Here’s a pic of the broken down cardboard I saved to give you an idea (only used half the amount):

    • Wow, you’re such a nice neighbor! Hope her cats enjoy your catscraper 🙂 Thank you for the kind words and linkback. I loved your tips on the knife and where to get free boxes! Hadn’t thought about using a breakaway knife before.

    • It’s held up well but I’m sure that’s because my cat is declawed. He can’t do much damage besides leaving some cardboard debris/crumbs lying on the base. After daily use, the dowel is still secured to the base. It does sway a bit when he scratches it but the couch would keep it from toppling over (I haven’t tried moving it away from the couch/wall). Sorry I can’t be more helpful..

  7. Pingback: Crafty Time: Cat Scratching Post | Things To Do Yourself - DIY

  8. finally have all my cardboard saved so I will be making this in the next week or so…will report back and perhaps post a pic! Thanks for sharing the information.

  9. Pingback: Make Your Own Cardboard Scratching Post. . . « Koshka's Gifts

  10. This looks like fun and I’m gonna try it only thing is I might figure out a way to keep them from moving up and down maybe some hot glue and some kind of stopper at the top! But thank you for the step bye step yours is beautiful

    • i used school glue for a similar cardboard scratcher for my my cat. i figured if he scratched up little flakes of it, it would be safer than hot glue because it’s nontoxic. 🙂

      • After stacking the cardboard on the dowel, press down on the stack and mark the height on the post. Release pressure and remove top few inches of cardboard.
        Drill a 3/8″ hole through the center of the post, with the bottom edge of the hole at the mark. Replace the cardboard, press down, and push a 3/8″ dowel (about 3″ – 4″ long”) through the hole. That should keep enough pressure on it to hold it still.

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  15. I made this with your instructions. 🙂 It was my dad’s idea to add the peg and the block (which is a furniture foot that you can get at a hardware store). Two of my cats love it and use it daily. I haven’t even seen them attempt to go at the couches anymore. 🙂 Unfortunately can’t get the third cat into it at all. Thanks for sharing your design!

    This is what it looked like after I made it in Feb:

    And this is it now:

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  17. Karen, what a great idea. My 3 cats ( one each: siamese, tuxedo, and spooky solid black longhair)currently have a scratch “post” that is carpet over wood, and a scratch “pad” which is cardboard cut the way you have, stacked tight into a 1′ tall by 5″ x14″ shallow box that lies on the floor. All the Kitties much prefer the feel of the edges of the cardboard, and will run and leap on it when they get riled up. It seems to charge them up even further, and the play continues. I think they would enjoy this upright skyscraper version, and I’m glad you were brave enough to give it a go. I would have fallen over, faint with disbelief and had I seen it for $149; now instead, I have another project for our rainy Seattle winter. I’m sure the cats will enjoy participating in the process as well. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  23. I can’t say enough. Can you put a top of some sort so the boards will stay nice and compact? I love this idea. you get so many boxes in mail, and what a great way to re-use the box instead of throwing it into the “trash” or recycler. thanks alot

    • Hi Jean! If you haven’t started cutting yet, I suggest making the center hole just a tad smaller than the dowel so it’s a snug fit. If it’s already complete, wrapping rubber bands on the dowel above the last piece of cardboard could be a simple solution. Hope this helps!

  24. what a fabulous idea. I can’t wait to try and make one. we get so many boxes when you order stuff, and it’s a wonderful idea to re-use the boxes rather than throwing them into your trash containers.

  25. I am in the process of making this and another, horizontal cardboard scratcher. If you have a teenager you want to keep busy for a day or so, I highly recommend this project! Haha! I can’t wait to see the finished project. Had to take a break from cutting, ran out of daylight and the light in my garage isn’t so great.

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  29. I have been collecting cardboard for several months, and I am going to finally cut it into 5″ squares. Does anyone have an easier way to cut the 1″ squares out of the middle of the larger cardboard squares, other than just using an exacto knife?? Thanks!

  30. This is one of the nicest Catscratch towers I’ve ever seen, & I have lots of cardboard saved up to make one. But everytime I try to download your templates the download fails. I’ve tried half a dozen programs to read them with and I’m having no luck. Do you have a direct link to someplace I can either download them or just open them up and save the page? Thank you for all your work. – Bette in Canada

  31. As with other cardboard cat scratchers, my cat ends up scratching them into little flakes that get everywhere – surrounding the scratcher and they spread to different parts of the house when they get stuck in her paws. Any recommendations other than constantly vacuuming/sweeping up the flakes?

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