DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post





Introduction: DIY Modern Cat Scratching Post

About: A husband & wife team. Amateur makers. Expert high fivers. New video every week (or so).

A while back we made an instructable for a horizontal cat scratching post/pad. Mochi did use it, but the downside is she still clawed our couch too. Womp.

So we built a modern vertical cat scratching post that slides over the arm of our couch, hoping that giving her something vertical to pull on will spare our couch from further damage. And so far, she’s using it!!! Yay!!! Bonus, this thing also acts as a wooden couch sleeve to set your drink on. Double yay!!

Of course, we documented the whole build on video so if you’d like to see the action in video form check it out above!

Before we get into this build, I’ll preface it by saying we used a lot of tools on this simply because we had them at the ready, but you don’t need everything we used. So I’m gonna put the must-have tools at the top of the list, and additional stuff we used below.

Must-have tools/materials

Additional tools/materials we used (helpful, but not 100% necessary)

Step 1: Measure and Cut the 2 Vertical Pieces

This scratching post is made of three pieces. To start, we’re going to find the measurements we need for our two vertical pieces (numbers 1 and 2 below). All the measurements for this build will depend on your couch.

Because couch arms can be rounded, grab a scrap piece of wood, or anything flat really, and place it across the top of the couch arm, making sure it’s level. Then measure the distance between the floor and the underside of the scrap piece. This measurement is going to be the length of your longer vertical wood piece that goes on the outside of your couch arm (1).

Next, slide the yardstick between the arm of your couch and the cushion until it hits the base of your couch under the cushion. This measurement is going to be the length of your shorter vertical wood piece that goes on the inside of your couch arm (2).

We used these two measurements to cut two pieces from our 10×1 on the miter saw. You could definitely use a circular saw instead though, or heck even a jig saw or hand saw.

On the shorter piece, we also added a slight taper by cutting an angle on our miter saw so that it would slide between the cushions more easily. It’s optional, but it does help.

Step 2: Pocket Holes

Next we drilled pocket holes. If you don’t have a kreg jig, don’t worry, you can just screw perpendicularly through the boards with wood screws later to attach them (don’t do it til after you’ve attached your sisal though. We’ll cover that part later). If you want to try the kreg jig but aren’t sure how to use it, here is a great tutorial on it.

We drilled these at the top of both vertical pieces, on the inside part that will be facing the couch arm. We’ll use them to attach the top piece later.

Step 3: Attach Sisal

Next we wrapped the longer vertical board (the one on out outside of the couch arm) with thick 3/8″ diameter sisal rope. We used most of this 100 foot roll which is pretty crazy. Because it’s so thick, we had to wrap the board first before we could get an accurate measurement of how wide our top piece needs to be.

We attached the sisal in such a way that if she really goes to town on it and at some point we need to replace it, we can easily do so. First we drilled a hole at one end of our longer piece of wood.

Tape the end of the sisal and thread it through the hole so that the taped end is on the pocket hole side of your board.

We secured the sisal by screwing through it and into the wood. First drill a small pilot hole, making sure to NOT go all the way through the wood.

Then screw through the taped end of the sisal and into the pilot hole. Make sure you use a small enough screw that won’t go all the way through your board (we used #8 x 3/4” wood screws).

Next we rounded out our edges with the router and ⅛” radius roundover bit. Eventually we are going to round pretty much every edge except those that are joined together, but for now we just rounded out the edges of the piece that will have the sisal because we wanted to do it before we wrapped it.

As we started, we realized we should have rounded these edges BEFORE we attached the sisal because it actually got in the way of the router. So we had to detach it, round the edges, and then reattach it.

After reattaching the sisal, we got started wrapping it tightly around the board. It helps to have a buddy for this part because our arms actually got surprisingly tired haha.

We attached the end of the sisal the same way we started it, by drilling a hole through the wood, threading through the sisal, and screwing it to the board on the pocket hole side of the wood (the same side we screwed the starting end to)

Step 4: Measure & Cut the Top Piece

Next we are going to measure out and cut our top piece of wood.

First we put the two vertical pieces in place, made sure they were level, then measured the distance between the outside edge of each board.

We cut that length on the miter saw, but again, use whatever saw you’ve got.

Before attaching the top piece, we rounded the corners of the rest of our edges. Like I mentioned before, we wanted to round out everything but the edges that we would join together.

Step 5: Sand & Smooth

Then we sanded out surfaces so that everything was smooth because it’s a lot easier to do before everything is assembled. We used the random orbit sander on the large surfaces and hand sanded it with a sanding block on the edges.

Step 6: Attach Everything

We used right angle clamps to keep the boards as square as we could before attaching them. We screwed through our pocket holes using pocket hole screws. If you didn’t do pocket holes, this is where you could screw wood screws perpendicularly through the boards.

When it came time to attach the long vertical wood piece, the dang sisal was in the way again so we had to get creative with some additional clamps and scrap wood in order to clamp the boards at a right angle. But we figured it out and screwed through those pocket holes as well.

Step 7: Finishing

Next we rounded out the corners of our top piece so that they matched up with the rounded corners of our side pieces. You can see in this picture where some edges are still sharp, and some are already rounded.

Then we rounded the rest of the top piece. You could potentially do all the edge rounding at once, we just thought it was easier to do it as we went.

We noticed there were a couple slight gaps where our pieces joined together. So we filled them with sanding dust from our sander and some glue. This is a great alternative to wood putty, and it’s guaranteed to match the color of your wood. Add more dust if you need to, and sand it to finish.

A trick to get your cat interested in the scratching post is to spray it with catnip spray. It’s sorta cheating… but it works! We also like to scratch on it with our hands to help show her what it’s for.

Step 8: Enjoy!

We definitely like this new scratching post more than our old one. It feels a little more finished looking, and we don’t have to worry about stubbing our toes (although we’ll still hold onto the old one for a while)

Hope she continues to like and use it! Please, Mochi, please use it, for the sake of our couch…


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    First of all, you guys are adorable, second of all, thanks for the wonderful thorough instructions on how to recreate your awesome design! I have a question: is the rope secured anywhere other that at the top and bottom? I started making this and it seems like the rope isn't under enough tension to hold up to the full-body stretch and scratch sessions my cat is currently lavishing upon the chair where this post will hang. Have you nailed or stapled the rope in place in the middle at all? If not, how is the tension holding up? Thank you again :-)

    Love the idea guys! I have a 6 month old cat who has been using the couch as his personal scratching board! This will hopefully stop her personal vendetta against my poor couch!

    What a great idea!! Love that it also gives you a place to set drinks :)

    1 reply

    Thanks!! Yeah we definitely use that feature, but you gotta be careful because our kitty gets curious about things set on HER toy :P hehe


    Two thumbs up for presentation, thinking outside of the box and cat scratching post /pad version 1. Two thumbs down for this version 2 design/concept. IMHO this only invites cats to scratch at furniture and gives positive reinforcement to do so. I've always used double sided tape (on their favorite furniture area) and a spray bottle filled with water to steer them away from scratching at furniture. The gist of this design could be used in a modular "cat house" or tree. I don't blame you for trying this concept because I believe Mochi telepathically sent you the idea. Cats are smart, have advanced human training skills and aren't afraid to tell us who is really owned in the relationship.

    1 reply

    Haha appreciate the feedback and who knows, she could have sent us the idea :P So far it's been working pretty well since she prefers the texture of the sisal more than the couch she used to attack but I think only time will tell

    Are you not using pocket jig wrong? The screw is going towards the side rather than the meat of the wood?

    3 replies

    This is actually the most frequent use of a these pocket jigs, hiding screws on the inside so it does not show from the outside. I'm not 100% clear about your concern though, so if this answer doesn't seem right feel free to clarify, lol :P

    I apologise, it seems the source of that knowledge was a YouTubers personal recommendation (opinion) rather than a Kreg instruction.

    Sorry for wasting your time.

    No, glad you asked! We like questions :)

    This is fantastic but my cats always behave as if allergic to sisal. Never go near the stuff no matter how many scratch posts we've tried over the years. I'm kinda used to the idea that my bits of Ikea will be permanently shredded.

    3 replies

    If I could find a square of carpet they haven't already trashed!

    Maybe you can get some sample carpet squares for cheap somewhere? Or we've also used a thick twine for scratching posts before, not sure if they would have the same reaction to it as they do to sisal, but could be worth looking into :)

    I have made a very similar scratching post in the past. If you want to guarantee that the cat uses the scratching post and not the couch, place a handful of "catnip" underneath the sisal. If the post is already made just rub the "catnip" into the sisal. Great looking scratching post. frank

    1 reply

    Good tip! I wonder how that compares to the catnip spray we used. The spray is super easy, but I bet putting the catnip under the sisal is more powerful

    Hey great job, you guys! Clear instructions, nice design, useful item, and a well-done video. Hard to beat that combination! Thanks for taking the time to create this.

    1 reply

    Thank you very much! We're just recently getting into making videos and really liking it so far!

    Love this idea! Side note...cats like vertical scratching bc it allows them to stretch their muscles from head to toe.