How to spoil your cats
(build them a floor to ceiling cat tree)
Indoor cats need a scratching post. If you do not provide them with one that THEY feel is suitable then they WILL use your furniture and doorways to satisfy their scratching needs.
(Don't bother asking me how I know these things... just trust me on this one.)
The obvious thing to do for your cats is to buy them a nice store bought scratching post. We did that. Laura brought home one nearly 30 inches tall with a nice wide stable base. Just what the kitties want, right? Well... sort of. They did use it for a scratching post but they still used the couch sometimes too. Bella liked to jump up and sit on top of the post sometimes, but it wasn't really big enough to sit on and she'd jump down after a few seconds. And after a while the rope started to get loose and sloppy because it wasn't wound tightly enough.
In short, it was an OK post, but it was kind of boring and not particularly well made. So, the next obvious thing to do was to make my own...
Here's our store bought post. BORING!
One of the "features" of our living room is that it has a floor to ceiling support post in a rather awkward and in the way spot. It's one of the "joys" of a funky old house.
But, what perfect raw material for a cat tree! (And a plan was born!)
First thing was to acquire a quantity of "natural" (unoiled) sisal rope. I figured it would take around 500 feet to wrap that post top to bottom. This spool contains about 730 feet.
The next thing was to make some steel brackets to bolt to the post so I had a place to attach some shelves after the rope was on. I made 7 of these.
I also made 7 flat steel plates to attach to the post brackets so that I would have a large sturdy area to bolt the particle board shelves to.
The shelves are about 14 inches by 12 inches with a corner cut out to fit the corner of the post. I used 5 of these, plus 2 large half round pieces for the top shelf.
Here's the post with the 7 support brackets bolted on. The top 2 are at the same height on opposite corners of the post.
Here's the post with about 510 feet of rope wrapped around it. This was a BIG job, taking many hours. The rope has to be pulled very tight and also packed tightly (vertically) so that it won't get loose and sloppy when the cats use it. Getting the rope tight was a job that required a come-along to pull the rope tight after every few wraps and a large hammer and blocks of wood to beat the rope tight vertically. The things we do for cats....
Here's a section of wrapped post showing the tabs on the corner brackets sticking out through the rope.
A steel plate is bolted to the corner brackets. This is a very sturdy arrangement, and strong enough for a small human to stand on. The particle board shelves will get bolted on top of these.
The 5 particle board shelves make "stairs" to the top. A 40 inch circle (split in half), with a cat access hole is bolted to the top 2 brackets which are positioned at the same height on opposite corners. In this photo, the center stair is covered with padding and brown burlap material. We will get the other stairs covered as time permits. Laura made some flat pillows for the top out of foam padding sewn into some old towels.
Bella usually uses the "stairs" to climb to the top. She hits the bottom running and spirals her way up to the top. Tilly doesn't use the stairs as much. Her preferred method is to dig in and use the rope to climb to the top, like climbing a tree. She starts at the lower right and spirals up and around the post between shelves until she gets to the top, then steps onto the top step and pops up the hole to the 'crows nest'.
This is a work in progress, with a few refinements and additions still to be made, but so far the verdict is... YES! The cats LOVE it! And they've quit ripping up our couch. :-)
Max likes to lay around on the top shelf of the "tree", but he doesn't really use the post for scratching. He's a horizontal scratcher. He like to get his butt in the air, and his front end down low with front legs outstretched and rip away at a horizontal surface. A piece of soft wood seems to be his favorite. For a while he was ripping the top of the couch and also the window sill in the laundry room. And for a while I tried to dicourage him, but I finally gave in (got smart!) and cut a piece of scrap lumber and screwed it down to the window sill as a sacrificial wood surface he could have his way with. The board also makes the sill several inches wider, so it gives a nice place in that window for kitties to sit or lay, in addition to giving Max a "legal" piece of wood to rip up.
You can see the edge of the board is all shredded from Max scratching it. But it's OK. That's his spot and I can cut a new board for him when this one is too trashed.
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