Rope Scratching Post

DSC_0582We went a little overboard shopping for Oliver when we found out we’d be adopting him. I’m beginning to understand why parents go so crazy buying things for their kids. I spent 30 minutes just trying to decide which cat food was the best option for our little 4-month-old kitten. In the midst of our shopping, I decided that buying a $25 scratching post was just not for me. Instead, I decided to make one.

Because we have carpet in the bedrooms, I decided to go with a rope scratching post. You’re supposed to choose a type of material that isn’t in your house. For example, if you have carpet and have a carpet scratching post, your cat might think that scratching carpet is okay. We didn’t want that, but rope posts are a tad more expensive, especially for a good one.

Let me start off with a disclaimer – this is not as easy as it looks. What I expected to take me an hour took me three days to complete. Seriously. But it was worth it.

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To make this rope scratching post, you’ll need:

  • Square, tall piece of wood, approx. 2 feet tall and 4 inches thick
  • Square, thin piece of wood, approx. 1 foot across and 1 inch thick
  • Sandpaper
  • Sisal rope (medium thickness and several feet long)
  • Non-toxic wood glue (I suggest Gorilla Glue)
  • Drill
  • 4 long screws

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First, sand down the post and base with sandpaper if not already smooth. My post was pretty beat up (got it for FREE at Home Depot), so it needed quite a bit of sanding, especially around the newly cut area.

Then start gluing the end of the sisal rope at the top of the wooden post. You will slowly continue to glue down rope on each side of the post, wrapping it tightly around the pole. The reason this takes so long, particularly if you use Gorilla Glue, is because it does not dry instantly, and you have to hold it down until it’s sticky enough to stay, which can take a long time. The rope is thick and doesn’t bend and hold easily, so it needs the glue to keep it in place or it will instantly break away from the wood. Gorilla Glue is meant to set permanently after about 30 minutes. Once you have the first row glued down at the very top of the post, it gets a lot easier but is still rather time consuming. This top row will act as an anchor, making the following rows much easier to glue.

I found that doing three sides at a time was the best approach if I laid the post on its side, pushing down one side while the glue dried and gluing two more sides, laying a heavy book on top to hold down the rope while the glue dried enough to hold it in place. I’d let it set for a few minutes and do a few more sides.

It’s a lot of work, but I promise it’s worth it. The glue you choose can make all the difference, but you want to make sure it’s a non-toxic, wood-safe glue so that it won’t harm your cat if they lick the post, which is pretty likely. It also needs to be tough enough to handle constant scratching and pulling. After you have glued down the length of the post (I stopped about 4 inches short of the bottom of the post), you can begin fastening it to the base.

In order to ensure the post is sturdy, I’d recommend using four long screws to attach the post to the base – one in each corner. Position it in the middle of the square base, marking with a pencil and gluing with additional Gorilla Glue if necessary, and drill four holes into the bottom. Use the drill to screw the pieces together. They should feel very secure at this point.

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That’s all it takes. Only a few easy steps, but it can be a long project. Do it a little at a time while you work on other things, and it’ll be done in no time! So far, Oliver prefers scratching my couch, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he warms up to it. Overall this project only cost me about $13, and I get to say it was homemade, which is really the reason I do all of this in the first place!

DIY Crate Cat Bed

IMG_4854IMG_4723Can we all agree that pet projects are the best projects? As soon as we knew we’d be adopting Oliver, I immediately knew he needed a bed (even though he’d probably prefer a cardboard box). I also took this as a great opportunity to try my hand at sewing with my new sewing machine!

My grandma passed her old sewing machine on to me a while back, but until recently I never had room for it. Now that I have an actual office space, I have room to sew – something I haven’t done since I was a kid. That’s how you know this is an easy project. Sewing the pillow for Oliver’s bed was the first time I’ve used a sewing machine since I was probably ten years old, so I promise anyone can do this.

I painted a crate, adding his name and sewed an envelop pillow case to add the pillow inside of his bed. Overall, this project can take as little as an hour.

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To make this crate cat bed (or small dog bed), you’ll need:

  • A crate (mine is x x x from Michael’s)
  • At least two different colors of paint
  • Small chipboard letters
  • Clear acrylic spray paint
  • Fabric
  • Pillow insert (mine is 16 x 20 in from IKEA)

Other supplies:

  • A sewing machine
  • Thread that matches your fabric
  • Fabric measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Paint brushes
  • Pencil

First, stand your crate right side up, with handles on each side. Using your hands, a crowbar or a hammer, pry off the top two slats of the crate. This lowers the front of the crate so your pet can step inside easier.

Then paint the entire crate one color – I chose grey for a mellow but still “manly” look that will blend in well with the apartment. A second coat made a huge difference because the first coat left it a bit streaky.

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Once dry, lay down chipboard letters on the front, top slate of the crate, spelling out your pet’s name. You could glue down chipboard letters instead of painting them, but I preferred the look of paint and decided to forgo the glittery letters because I was concerned they’d fall off too quickly and wouldn’t suit the boyish look I was going for. Use a pencil to trace the letters, and fill them in with your second paint color – I chose light blue. Then take it outside to spray it with a light coat of clear acrylic spray paint to give it a nice, finished shine.

Then go into that pile of scrap fabric we all have and dig out a large pieces of fabric to match your bed – I chose light yellow. For my 16 x 20 inch pillow insert, which I pulled out of one of my old IKEA pillows, I cut one piece that was 17 x 21 inches, leaving an extra inch around for the seam. Then, cut two more pieces that will create the envelope. Mine were 17 x 11 inches and 17 x 13 inches, allowing for a few inches of overlap. If using a different size pillow, make sure to allow for at least 2-4 inches of overlap, and one of your pieces will be smaller than the other.

Then iron them out as best you can. Take the edges of your envelop pieces that will be the envelop and fold over about 1/4 inch, then fold another 1/4 of an inch. Iron in place to hold the fold together.

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Place the full piece on the bottom, outside facing up. Place your smallest piece, outside facing down, on top of the larger pieces. Then place your medium-sized piece, outside facing down, on top of the other.

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First, sew across the folded area of your envelop pieces, reversing along the ends to hold your stitch. Lay them back down and pin around your pieces to hold them in place. Sew a 1/2 inch seam around the length of the pillow, reversing your seam at each end to hold. As you go around, turn your fabric, so you have a consistent seam going all the way around, pulling the pins out as your go. Once done, cut the corners off and trim your extra strings.

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Then pull the pillow outisde-out and iron down the edges. Put your pillow insert inside and ta-da! Then squeeze it inside the crate. It should be a somewhat tight fit.

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Now you have a comfy little bed for your little sidekick!