MONSTER CAT SCRATCH POST
There are three parts that make up the Monster Scratch Post / Cat Gym, which we'll call the Trunk, the Leaves, and the Branches. The Trunk is a lamination of 2x4s and covered with sisal, then mounted to the wall via angle brackets. The leaves are little planks covered with green doormat material, then attached to little 2x4 Branches, then finally attached to the Trunk. It's not hard to build - it was for me only because I didn't plan the whole thing out too well before getting started, as I am wont to do. You can design it to fit it to whatever space you want. So the first step is, decide where you want to put it, how tall it will be, how many Leaves and where they will be placed.
Note- use drywall screws for everything. Nails will pull out or bend, because of how they are used in this project.
For the Trunk, you want to have a 4x4" post as tall as will fit in your place. I just salvaged some poor-quality eight foot 2x4s, then stacked them like you would legos to make a 14-foot 4x4 (used to be much bigger when I had my loft space). Use 3" drywall screws to join the 2x4s.
Then, cover the
Trunk with a strip or strips of sisal fabric. I used a sisal rug fragment
from ABC. Make sure the covering you use isn’t too stiff to cover the
corners without bowing out too much. Measure and cut the sisal pieces
before stapling to the post. I used a
box cutter to cut the sisal – be careful this step, obviously. Use a staple gun and plenty of 5/8"
staples to attach the sisal to the trunk. Staple one side of each sisal
piece to the post, wrap around, then staple the other
through the overlap. Make sure the
staples are fully in, because Kitty could get her claws stuck.
Also- instead of the sisal, I bet you could just wrap the trunk with hemp rope, gluing with Elmer’s wood glue as you wrap it. I’ve seen other scratching posts made this way, and you wouldn’t have to buy (or cut) cut sisal.
For the Leaves, the general plan is to start with some flat boards approximately 6” x 12” x ¾”, cover with scratch-promoting fabric such as door mat material, attach to 2x4 x 12” Branches, then attach the Branches to the trunk.
During planning, decide where the Leaves will go, how big they should be. Narrower (maybe, 4-6" wide) leaves are better because they can be staggered on opposite sides of the trunk, and kitty can climb by jumping between left & right side Leaves. Also, narrower Leaves make it possible to put the whole thing in a corner which is difficult with wide leaves.
I used some leftover scraps of plywood for the Leaves, and maybe you can find some scraps to use since the size isn’t critical. For the Leaf covering, I used green high-traffic runner carpet, like doormat material but sold by the foot at a building store. Cut it to size, wrap in around the Leaf boards & staple into place. You might instead use rope coiling for this as well.
The Branches connect Leaves to the Trunk. I used all 12” x 2x4s. To cut down on sharp points, I cut off the bottom corner under the Leaf. 12” is a good length, because if shorter, Kitty can’t climb from the Trunk out to the Leaf, and longer puts too much torsional stress on the Trunk-Branch joint.
Attach the each
Leaf to a Branch by drilling 3 3” drywall screws down through the top face of
the covered Leaf into the branch. Make
sure the drywall screws are sunk well into the Leaf,
otherwise the Leaf will wobble left-to-right.
The edge of the Leaf closest to the Trunk should be at least 4” from the
tip of the Branch (ie 4” Leaf-Branch overlap), to ensure the Branch-Leaf join
is strong enough to support Kitty, plants, etc.
Attach each Branch to the Trunk with 3 4 ½”
drywall screws. These have to be the
bigger, heftier drywall screws as this joint will get plenty of torsion. Unless you have a really monster drill,
you’ll need to drill pilot holes for these large screws. Or, I you could probably drill holes and use
carriage bolts instead of drywall screws. Arrange the three drywall screws in a
triangle pattern on the Branch-Trunk overlap, making the triangle as large as
possible without being too near any edges.
The drywall screws need to be driven all the way to their heads;
otherwise, the joint will loosen over time.
When finally mounting the Gym to the wall, the trunk should be floor-standing, then attached to the wall permanently with two fairly heavy-duty "L" brackets. The brackets keep the trunk balanced and stop it from rotating, but the floor supports the weight. It must be attached to the wall or it will definitely fall over at some point and lose all credibility w/ kitty. If attaching to drywall walls, use proper drywall mounts. !!Keep in mind that putting weight on the leaves, because they are attached off the center axis of the trunk, can exert a torsional force causing the trunk to rotate.
Make sure the whole
thing is sturdy everywhere. Kitty will
at some point put every conceivable stress on it. For example, jumping from
the top Leaf to the bottom. Or, jumping across the room to a Leaf, sharply twisting the Trunk.
Good luck! It will take a few days or weeks to get used to, but Kitty will be all over it like a squirrel.