How to make a cat scratching post

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Your kitten or cat is a born hunter. Scratching is a kind of body movement for cats – it stretches the muscles and helps the cat to keep fit. But if your cat starts scratching on your sofa or curtains, it’s time to consider a scratching post. A scratching post is an easy way for your cat to work out its natural aggression!

What are the requirements for a cat scratching post?
Your cat is a choosy animal! That doesn’t just apply to its food, it’s also true for a scratching post. You need to make sure the scratching post is sturdily supported, because your cat won’t use it if it’s wobbly. And the scratching post must be high enough. It’s going to be used intensively, and it needs to last for a long time.

Using the scratching post
Once you’ve made your scratching post, you’ll need to teach your cat that it can use its claws! Put the scratching post in one of your cat’s favourite places. You can make it even more attractive if you hang one of your cat’s toys on it. And if your cat still scratches at the wrong place, put the scratching post there. Once the cat starts scratching regularly on the scratching post, you can gradually move the post to where you want it.

Required materials
•    Plywood (22 mm)
•    Sisal rope (8 mm)
•    PVC pipe (Ø110 mm)
•    Screws

How much sisal rope do you need?
•    Divide the length of the PVC pipe (in other words the final height of the post) by the thickness of the sisal rope.
•    The result is the number of turns of rope that you need to cover the post.
•    Measure the width (= the diameter) of the PVC pipe.
•    To work out the length of rope that you need, multiply the diameter of the PVC tube by π (3.14) and then multiply the result by the required number of turns.

Example calculation:
•    Your scratching post has a diameter of 110 mm x 3.14 = 345.4 mm of rope is needed for one turn around the tube.
•    The post is 1000 mm high, and you divide this by 8 mm (the diameter of the rope). That means you need 125 turns of rope.
•    The required length of rope is then: 125 turns x 345.4 mm = 43.175 mm of rope.
•    Divide this by 1000 to get the length in metres. This is approximately 43.5 metres. The number of turns of rope that you need is theoretically measured with the rope tightly wound, so it’s a good idea to allow at least 10% extra. In this case you’ll need around 50 metres of rope.

  1. Make the top plate of the scratching post

    To make the top plate, use a 22 mm thick plywood panel. Use the jigsaw to saw out the round top plate with a diameter of 300 mm. You can mark out an accurate circular shape by driving in a nail at the centre of the panel, and then using a pencil and a piece of string to draw a circle at a distance of 150 mm from the centre. Smooth the edge with sandpaper to remove sharp edges and splinters.

  2. Make the baseplate of the scratching post

    To make the baseplate, use the same 22 mm thick plywood panel and saw out a square piece measuring 400 x 400 mm. If your cat is a bit heavier than average, you can make a double-thickness (44 mm) baseplate for extra stability. Locate the centre of the baseplate by drawing two lines between the opposite corners. Mark out 2 reference points on opposite sides of the centre, each at a distance of 40 mm from the centre. Drill 2 holes at those reference points. These holes will let you fix the baseplate to the tube using countersunk screws. Smooth all edges with sandpaper to remove sharp edges and splinters.

  3. Tip

    To make the tube even more stable, you can fill it with something heavy such as sand or gravel in small bags.
  4. Prepare the central tube of your cat scratching post

    Cut out a 10 mm slot at each end of the PVC tube for the 8 mm sisal rope to pass through. Drill 3 small holes at the top and bottom of the tube so you can fix the top plate and the baseplate to the endplates in the tube.

  5. Make the endplates

    You need to make 2 endplates to fix the top plate and the baseplate inside the PVC tube. For these endplates, use a piece of 22 mm thick plywood. The diameter of the endplates is 110 mm (the outside diameter of the PVC tube) minus 2x the wall thickness of the tube. This is usually 3.2 mm, so the diameter of the endplates is (rounded-off) 103 mm. To make the 2 circular endplates, follow exactly the same method as for the top plate, and saw the 2 endplates out with the jigsaw. To allow you to pass the knotted sisal rope downwards through the endplate at the top of the tube, saw a piece with a width of 8 mm off the edge of this endplate. Then, fix the top plate to the endplate inside the top of the tube using screws and glue. Fixing the endplate inside the bottom of the tube is described later.

  6. Cover the top plate

    You can cover the top plate of your cat scratching post with the same kind of sisal rope that you used to wind around the PVC tube ­– your cat will like that! Just wind the sisal rope in circles and fix it to the top plate with glue.

  7. Fit the top plate

    Start at the top of the scratching post. Make a tight double knot at the end of the sisal rope, and place the rope in the PVC tube through the cut-out slot at the top end of the tube. Insert the endplate inside the top of the tube, with the sawn-off edge of the endplate next to the place where the rope passes through the cut-out slot in the tube. Press the endplate right into the tube, and then screw it in place with 3 countersunk screws. Make sure you fix the endplate so the top edge is horizontal and level with the top of the tube.

  8. Wind the rope around the tube

    Pull the rope tight and start winding it around the tube. Keep the rope tight while you’re winding it. After you’ve wound a few turns, use a hammer to push the windings tightly and neatly together. Use working gloves to protect your hands, and get someone else to help you to keep the rope tight. If you need to rest for a few minutes, you can fix the rope in place with a piece of tape.

  9. Tip

    Before you start to wind the rope, take a good look at how it unwinds. That will help you to avoid irregular windings.
  10. Fit the baseplate of the scratching post

    When you’ve finished winding the rope around the tube, keep the rope tight and push it through the cut-out slot in the bottom end of the tube, in the same way as you did at the top of the tube. Press the endplate right into the bottom end of the tube, and then screw it securely in place. Make sure you fix the endplate so the bottom edge is horizontal and level with the bottom of the tube.

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