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12 Easy DIY Cardboard Cat Scratcher Plans (with Pictures)

Cats aren’t hard to please creatures. All they want is a tasty treat now and then, interactive toys to challenge their minds, a cozy napping spot, somewhere to scratch, and they’ll be happy. If finances are a little tight for you, providing all of the above can be difficult. Thankfully, with a little patience and ingenuity, you can use materials and tools you already have at home to DIY at least one of your cat’s wants.

Scratching is an innate behavior and something your kitty will do whether you give them a place to do it or not. A scratching post is a must-have if you want to save your carpet and furniture. Don’t worry about dropping hundreds of dollars on fancy store-bought posts because you can DIY one for free.

Keep reading to find 12 simple cardboard cat scratcher plans you can start and finish today.

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The Top 12 DIY Cardboard Cat Scratcher Plans

1. Round Scratcher from Dream a Little Bigger

Materials: Cardboard boxes, glue gun sticks
Tools: Straight edge, box cutter, glue gun, cut-resistant gloves (optional)
Difficulty Level: Easy

This simple round scratcher plan is a bit time-consuming, but the result will be worth it. You’ll start by cutting your boxes into strips around 2 inches wide. After you’ve made your strips, you’ll score them with your knife so they’re easier to bend into a round shape. Once your scores are finished, you’ll begin rolling the strips into spirals one by one, hot gluing each strip together. What you’re left with at the end is an irresistible round scratching post that you can easily make as big or small as you need.

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2. Box Scratcher from Cat Lady Confidential

Materials: Cardboard boxes, box lid (like what you’d find on an A3 paper box)
Tools: Box cutter, ruler, pen, glue
Difficulty Level: Easy

The plans for this straightforward box scratcher are about as easy and quick to make as they come. The A3 box lid acts as a base for the scratcher. First, you’ll cut your cardboard box into strips that will fit snugly into the lid. You’ll need to cut enough strips to fit the entire length of the lid. Once you know how many you’ll need, you can start gluing them together inside the lid. This scratcher shouldn’t take you longer than 30 minutes to put together but your kitty will derive plenty of hours of scratching pleasure from it.

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3. Cat-Shaped Scratcher from Salty Canary

Materials: Cardboard, paint (optional), fabric (optional), sisal rope (optional)
Tools: Box cutter, ruler, marker, duct tape, scissors
Difficulty Level: Moderate

There’s no reason we have to resign ourselves to bland-looking cat accessories. This feline-shaped scratcher is adorable to look at and will be very rewarding to make. As with the other scratcher plans, you’ll start making your cardboard into strips. The thinner the strips, the closer your scratcher will be to the ground. You’ll start assembling the scratcher by coiling one of the strips of cardboard and duct tape to tape it shut.

Next, continue to wrap your cardboard strips around that duct-taped spiral. This will act as the head portion of the scratcher. Keep adding to the head until the circle you’ve created meets the size you need. Fold the cardboard pieces in half to make triangle shapes that’ll act as ears and duct tape them to the “head.” Feel free to add pet-safe paint to the inside of the ears or wrap the outer edge in a decorative fabric.

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4. Stump-Shaped Scratcher from DIY Cat Village

Materials: Cardboard, circle stencil or math compass, pen, glue
Tools: Box cutter, ruler, tape
Difficulty Level: Easy

If you’re looking for a way to jazz up the appearance of your DIY scratcher, this stump-shaped plan is a great option. While cutting the shapes will be time-consuming, the rest of this project is rather simple so get yourself set up with your favorite podcast and get to work.

You’ll need a sharp box cutting tool to make cutting the dozens of layers easier and faster. Each layer will be cut in a specific shape to make the scratcher look like a tree stump by the end of the project. You will need to trust the process here and follow the instructions exactly. The shapes will have a hole in the middle to account for a spiral you’ll be constructing out of cardboard. With a solid base in place, you’ll add your large cardboard spiral and then glue the stump shapes together one by one.

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5. Igloo Scratcher from Instructables

Materials: Cardboard, pencil, non-toxic glue, measuring tool
Tools: Boxcutter, math compass
Difficulty Level: Moderate

This igloo scratcher is a simple afternoon project you can make with materials you likely already have at home. The first, and most time-consuming, step is to draw and cut the cardboard circles you’ll need to construct your igloo. The author of this project has included a thorough PDF measurement guide to make this step a bit easier. Once you have your pieces cut to spec, you’ll begin to assemble your project. Leave it to dry overnight with a stack of heavy books on top to ensure the glue holds.

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6. Tower Scratcher from Buzzfeed

Materials: Cardboard, 2 12-inch plywood squares, 2  4-inch plywood squares, wooden dowel, wood glue, bun foot
Tools: Power drill, wood hole saw bit
Difficulty Level: Advanced

While this towered scratcher is more on the advanced side, if you’re handy with a power drill you should be able to whip it together in an hour or two. This post features a sturdy plywood base so your cats can go to town scratching it without worrying about knocking it over.

One great thing about this DIY project is that it’s rather customizable. If you want your cardboard tower to be higher, buy a longer wooden dowel. The length of the dowel will be the height of your tower. You can also arrange the cardboard pieces however you like. The original crafter shaped theirs into a spiral design.

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7. Dome Scratcher from Instructables

Materials: Cardboard, pencil, glue, paintbrush
Tools: Box cutter, math compass
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Here’s another unique-looking DIY project. This dome scratcher doubles as a way for your cats to sharpen their claws and a place to rest their head for a nap. It is made from many circular cardboard disks in several different sizes. You will need to cut them and glue them together. The instructions give you a full list of the radius measures you’ll need to make. Each circular disk will have another circle cut out in the middle. The cuts for each disk need to be perfect to line up right, so take your time during this step.

Once your dome is put together, the next step is to cut out the door. You will choose the width and length depending on the size of your kitty. The door is the hardest part of this project, but once you’re done it, your kitty will be happy to lounge in and scratch on his new scratcher.

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8. Round Scratcher from Instructables

Materials: Cardboard, packing tape, meter stick
Tools: Cardboard scissors, Box cutter, hot glue gun, palm sander (optional)
Difficulty Level: Moderate

This round scratcher is a perfect DIY for any cat parent looking for a fun afternoon challenge. This project involves many of the same steps as the other scratchers on our list. You’re going to need a lot of cardboard (the author used 26 pieces) so be sure to gather all your supplies together first before starting this project.

Your first step is to decide how tall you want this to be. The author chose five inches for theirs, but you can choose higher or lower depending on how big your cat is. Once you know the size, you’ll start cutting your cardboard into strips and then softening them by crinkling and rolling them until they’re soft enough to roll into a spiral shape. Your first spiral will need to be taped down using packing tape to keep it closed. Your next layer will be rolled onto your original spiral and you’ll continue this step until the circle has reached the desired diameter. If you like, you can use a palm sander to level out the top of your circle if the pieces aren’t even.

The final step is to add the décor to the side of the scratcher.

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9. Scratcher Bed from GreenLuckyCat

Materials: Cardboard, scissors, pencil
Tools: Cardboard scissors, glue
Difficulty Level: Easy

Is there anything cats like better than a cozy box to sleep in? We think not. That’s why this DIY scratcher bed is sure to be a hit for them, as it combines their love of napping and their need for scratching. This project takes the classic DIY scratcher to the next level by using a full box as the base. You will cut the “door” out of the box as deep as you’d like it to be and then stack strips of cardboard inside to provide the scratching section. This simple DIY shouldn’t take longer than an hour but will give your kitty hours upon hours of fun.

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10. Modern Cat Scratcher from P3 Designwork

Materials: Cardboard
Tools: Box cutter, glue, beam compass
Difficulty Level: Moderate

This modern DIY project takes the traditional cat scratcher and flips it on its head. Literally. Though this inverted dome scratcher is time-consuming, we think you’ll love the result. The creators behind this design have provided two different style options, circle or stadium. The idea behind both designs is the same—a bowl-like shape that your cat can use to rest in or to scratch.

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11. Scratch Pad from P3 potatopanic!

Materials: Cardboard
Tools: Box cutter, glue, ruler, cutting mat
Difficulty Level: Easy

This DIY from a fellow cat lover is a simple and fast scratcher you can put together in under an hour. This scratching pad has a relatively small footprint so it’s a great choice for people who can’t surrender more floor space to their pets. All you’ll need to do for this project is cut strips of cardboard out to your desired length and width and start gluing them together. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

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12. Cat House with Scratcher from Instructables

Materials: Cardboard, hot glue sticks
Tools: Box cutter, hot glue gun
Difficulty Level: Advanced

If you’re feeling up to a crazy challenge, give this two-in-one cat house and scratcher a go. The end product looks like something you could buy in the pet store except you’ll get to carry the pride knowing you crafted it yourself. This project is not for the faint of heart or anyone looking for a quick afternoon DIY. You’ll need to carve out some time to read the plans and make all the intricate cuts.

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Why Do Cats Like Scratching, Anyway?

Have you ever noticed your cat scratching your furniture and carpet and wondered what’s going on inside their heads? Scratching is a completely normal and instinctive behavior for cats. There are several reasons why they scratch including to relieve anxiety, exercise, sharpen or shorten their nails, and mark their territory. Your cat might scratch at your sofa to mark their territory as the pads on their paws are scent glands that will leave their scent on everything they scratch. While this isn’t as useful in a home environment, cats in the wild will scratch at trees to leave a visual and olfactory way to show others what their territory is.

Indoor domesticated cats don’t have access to trees to scratch, so they need you to provide a safe space for them to do so. Encourage good scratching behaviors by having several cat trees or scratchers throughout your home.

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Final Thoughts

There’s one thing that every cat parent can attest to—you either work with your cat to find harmony in your home together, or you don’t and wind up living with a whirling dervish. Providing your kitty with places to scratch will not only save your furniture and carpet but keep your cat happy, too. These DIY plans are a sure-fire way to test your creative side while giving you the satisfaction of a job well done. Happy building!

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Featured Image Credit: Boonlert Saikrajang, Shutterstock

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