Introduction: Full Size Cat Scratching / Climbing Post

Picture of Full Size Cat Scratching / Climbing Post

Rufus  wanted a scratching / climbing post, so I decided to make one for him.

The ones available at the pet stores have several disadvantages: They are usually too short, have too small diameters and an annoying platform which doesn't allow 'full speed' upward.

This design allows you to make a scratching post from floor to ceiling, in whatever length your cat prefer, and it's also very stable and doesn't require any holes or screws to fasten. It is also possible to re-wrap the Sisal rope in the future.

The relaxing platform and staircase described at the last step are optional.

Step 1: What You Need.

Picture of What You Need.

* PVC drain pipe, diam. 110 mm, in a preferable length (floor to ceiling).

 * Sisal rope, diam. 8 mm, approx. 47 meter for each meter of the pipe length.
   For example: A diam. 110 pipe with length 2.5 m will need 117.5 m.
   Sisal rope can be quite expensive, so check out where you can buy it cheap.
   An affordable supplier is (delivers worldwide).

   (See below in comments section for the formula used for exact calculation).

* Tee nuts, M8, 4 pcs.
* Hexagon head bolts, M8, length approx 50 mm.  , 4 pcs.
* U-bolts, 2 pcs.
* Fake MDF wood tiles. (Or a similar hard surface material).
* Cork gasket sheet, thickness 3 mm.

* Wood screws.
* Ordinary hand tools.

* And the most important: One helpful and curious cat

Step 2: Make Upper and Lower Plugs.

Picture of Make Upper and Lower Plugs.

Start making the upper and lower base plugs by forming 45 mm thick wooden pieces equal to the PVC pipe inner diameter. Two grooves for the rope and U-bolt  is needed lengthwise.

Create 3 circular discs of MDF fake floor tile (or equal hard surface material). Diam 150 mm.

Connect the plugs and discs with some wood screws to create 2 units.

One of the plug units should be equipped with 4 tee nuts and 4 bolts, acting as spanners. Drill holes through the plate and plugs. Punch them into place with a hammer.

The third MDF disc is used under the spanner bolts.

Cut out two circular cork discs. Thickness 3 mm, diam. 150. They are needed for surface protection, anti-slipping and compression.

Measure the distance between roof and ceiling.

Find out the thickness of the upper and lower plates, bolt heads, gaskets and also a 5 mm mounting clearance, and you will have the needed pipe length.

Important: Measure again! Think again!

Cut the pipe.

Step 3: Preassembly.

Picture of Preassembly.

Mount all the pieces together and check out that everything is OK. Don't wrap the Sisal rope yet...

The assembly order counted from the floor should be:
- Cork disc.
- Protection MDF disc.
- Spanner plug unit.
- PVC pipe.
- Upper plug unit.
- Cork disc.

Put the soon-to-be scratching post in position using a level to get it vertical. Mark the upper and lower positions with some masking tape at the floor and ceiling.

Turn the 4 spanner screws at the lower plug unit counter-clockwise and the pipe should start pressing between floor and ceiling. Tighten the spanner screws until the post is securely fastened.

When satisfied... remove it all and mentally prepare for a couple of hours wrapping more than 100 meters of rope. A nice cold beer will help.

Step 4: Sisal Wrapping.

Picture of Sisal Wrapping.

Make one cut-out for the rope at each end of the pipe. This is the 'inlets' for the rope.

Drill two small holes opposite of the cut-outs for the U-bolt. Position the U-bolt to allow one turn of the rope without any gap.

Put a knot at the rope, inside the tube, close to the plug. Guide the rope through the cut-out. Mount the nuts on the U-bolt and tighten the rope. Press the plug and start wrapping the rope from the floor plug unit and up.

Pull the rope hard when wrapping, and after some turns hammer the turns together. A pair of gloves and someone to help you guiding the rope is necessary . When you need a break, secure the rope with packaging tape.

Wrapping long lengths of rope is much more difficult than it sounds. It will twist, turn, tangle and be a complete mess if not handled correctly. Plan your wrapping!.

When the whole pipe is wrapped, tighten the rope with the U-bolt at the top, cut the rope (give it 2 extra meters for some re-wrapping in the future). Put the upper plug unit in position.

Step 5: Final Assembly.

Picture of Final Assembly.

Put the wrapped post in the previously marked position. Tighten the spanner screws. Remove the rope securing tape. And... voila!

Great success! Full speed ahead!

(Continue to the next step, if your cat also demands some extra options).

Step 6: Optional Relaxing Platform and Staircase.

Picture of Optional Relaxing Platform and Staircase.

Most cats likes to relax at a high position, so I decided to make a high mounted platform to complete the cat playground area. This is a quick description.

Start out with a simple prototype made of cardboard. A distance of 150 mm between the platform and climbing post seems perfect... enough clearance for a climbing cat, and not to far away for him to reach.

Decide the dimensions of the platform. Suggestion: Length = 600 mm and width = 300 mm, that should be enough for a full grown cat laying down.

Cut out a base plate in a wooden plate. Create chamfers on one side.

By using triangular profile wooden pieces, create a safety edge. Trim the edges to correct length.

Cut out a soft sheet  for the cat to rest on. For example, use a car heat insulation sheet with aluminum foil.

 Wrap a soft cloth around the platform and fasten it on the underside by a industrial stapler.

Use some sort of nice looking wooden plate on the underside to cover up the cloth edges. ( I used a fake MDF oak wood tile). Countersink the screws.

Two purchased wall shelf brackets/consoles will complete the platform.

To make it easier for the cat to come down from the platform, mount two extra shelves to the wall, and they will act as a staircase. Suggested plate dimensions: Length = 450 mm and width = 170 mm. A distance of 450 mm between each step seems suitable for a young cat.

I later found out that a hard surface sometimes can be a little to slippery for the cats if they have a high speed, i.e. chasing each other. It can be a good idea to cover the stairchase plate with some non-slippery material.


Step 7: Updates

Picture of Updates

2011 - After 1.5 years and 30 times a day heavy cat use:

Well, after 1.5 years and one more cat, the rope started to slack a little. This was expected and easy to fix. Just remove the U-bolt and compress all the turns from top to bottom and add some of the extra rope hidden inside the tube. 3-4 more turns was enough. Therefor I suggest that mostly of the spare rope is available to add from the top, but also allow some to be added from the bottom if needed.

At the same time I rotated the pole 1/4 of a turn due to some cat-claw-wear. After 1.5 year and two cats, the wear is almost not visible and I think the rope will go for another 8 years. Could it be that a 10 mm rope will wear less? Maybee user DreamingSheep can give some feedback later on about the wear for a 10 mm rope?

We also moved to another appartment which had a 25 mm higher ceiling. I solved this (very quick-and-dirty) by adding a piece of wood between the two upper disc. (Not very beautiful, but works without any problems).

2013 - Another move:

Moved to an old house with a 150 mm lower ceiling. Had to cut off the PVC pipe, make new holes for the U-bolt, rewrap and tightening the upper part of the rope. Put the extra rope lenght into the pipe.

2015 - Rope status:

Still no major wear to the rope. Will do for a couple of more years.


hayes.heather (author)2017-07-24

Great design! I am thinking about making one (or two) of these for my smallish cat-to-be. I keep seeing DIY Ikea cat poles that are somewhat similar but have shelves, do you think it would be safe to bracket relatively small shelves to the pole? I could potentially put the spanners at the top and attach the bottom to a wider base for added stability. What are your thoughts?

Should be ok to bracket small shelves. Depends on the fastening solution to the pole though. The PVC 110 mm pole itself is quite sturdy even at 2.0 meters length.

Thanks! Still working on how I would attach the brackets. They would likely be under the sisal but they still need to be secured to the pole. Maybe drywall anchors.

rnjhoney made it! (author)2017-06-07

Thanks a lot for this awesome tutorial! Our little monkey is a born climber and unfortunately, has limited access to real trees.
We decided to add a twist to the original version, as we already had a "cat tree" for him that we didn't want to discard completely, so we kept it and remodeled it around the pole, as well as added an extra shelf "high up", a storage compartment underneath and a scratching board.
The only technical variation to the original instructions for the climbing pole is the addition of a 3 way connector in the middle which complicates things a little. We used carpet (glued on) instead of sisal rope just on that middle bit as it was too hard to keep the sisal rope in place (we tried!). We ended up running the sisal rope from top to side (via middle), with U-bolts at each end, and then a separate length of rope from bottom to middle (again secured with U-bolts). So 4 U-bolts in total. The side pipe is then attached to the existing cat tree using a commercial plastic pipe-end cap screwed through (and we conveniently reused existing elements of the cat tree to secure it in place). Everything else was done as per original instructions.
Everyone contributed to the project, hubby and cat included! (and yes, our cat is the same curious type as Rufus, appearing in most of the photos we took along the way)
Super happy with the end result and Ginger(our little 1.5 yo tiger) loves it! It's only been up for a few days but I've already stopped counting how many times he went up and down. Thanks again!! :)

ps. for anyone else based in Australia, supplies all avail. at Bunnings, except the sisal rope which I got from SplicingAndCutting, NSW

[before, during and after photos]

Bengt Englund made it! (author)rnjhoney2017-06-08

Interesting solution.Thank you for sharing. Rufus approved your design ;)

mewoo (author)2016-09-11

How is this secured into the ceiling to be stable. I want to do something like this in a room with a very high ceiling.. I wonder if I can just use a corner shelf and a spring system to stabilize the top part?

Bengt Englund (author)mewoo2016-09-12

It's secured by anti-slipping material (cork) and by tightening the spanner screws at the bottom. Described in step 5.

BrittanyK21 (author)2016-07-28

Thank you so much for sharing this. I am very excited to build this and report back with photos. I have a question though. Do you think the 2 "step-down" shelves that you have on the wall are absolutely necessary for the cat to get back on the ground? Do you find that your cat ever jumps from the post itself? I want to give my cats that "relaxing" shelf at the top, but not sure I have enough wall space for the "step-down" shelves.

It's to high for my cats to jump from the top to the floor. It injures their paws. (Some cats learns to climb downwards with its tail down. Never seen it myself though). If they are just climbing a metre, they jumps straight down.

I would STRONGLY suggest some kind of 'step-down' shelves, for your cats safety. And it's also recommended to have some kind of 'anti-slippery' surface on top of the shelf, because they often race down with full speed.

Noted. I will definitely install some step-down shelves then. Thank you very much for the reply!

Humblebug77 (author)BrittanyK212016-08-15

Just to add my two cents -- my cats have learned to shimmy down the post backwards (with their tail facing the ground), so it is possible that your cats would be okay, but it's definitely awkward for them and they much prefer it when I leave my high-backed chair near it so that they can jump onto the chair back rather than backing down the pole.

Noted. I will definitely install some step-down shelves then. Thank you very much for the reply!

Humblebug77 made it! (author)2016-06-28

Thank you so much for this! I had been searching the internet for a climbing post like this to buy, because my cat kept trying to climb the walls and was leaving gouges in the drywall. He's going to love this for sure (and I'll enjoy being able to get my apartment deposit back)! I haven't put it in place yet, but you can see from the other picture where it will be, so that Kovu can have easy access to his favorite spot above the fridge.

I used 3/8 inch sisal for half of the pole and then 1/2 inch sisal for the other half (because of a miscalculation and my hardware store not carrying a long enough piece in one size). Luckily, you can't tell much of a difference, other than slight color differences! I also found it super helpful to balance one end of the pole on the couch and the other end on my lap, so I could just twist the pole and feed the sisal onto it. Definitely helped to avoid tangles!

Thanks for feedback. Hope Kovu enjoys it!

jasminesterling (author)2015-12-02

Awesome stuff! I was wondering if anybody ever tried glueing boucle or loop pile carpet weave to the pole? Hicat in the UK uses it for theirs and says it's best for climbing. Any idea which material is less expensive? And if there are good non-toxic glues to use?

DavidF132 (author)2015-10-25

hi again, should the u bolt be tightened to hold the rope or is it just a guide?


Bengt Englund (author)DavidF1322015-10-26

Must be tightened to hold the rope, otherwise the rope will losen up.

DavidF132 (author)2015-10-25

hi, cant wait to get started but having trouble finding the correct u bolt. do you have a contact or exact size to order?



Bengt Englund (author)DavidF1322015-10-26

I would suggest you try with your local hardware store. The U-bolts are usually for connecting steel wires. The rope should be able to fit inside the U.

LyndaS6 (author)2015-08-16

Great stuff! I'm so excited for this project but I'm all by myself and not very handy, so do you think I could use the Ikea Stolmen pole and add two layers of sisal (or a layer of something thick and then the sisal on top?) to get a wider diameter?

My two cats just went though a big change with us moving from a house with cat fenced backyard to an apartment with balconies :( They need the exercise and miss climbing trees.

Bengt Englund (author)LyndaS62015-08-17

I think it could be done, but I am doubtful that the fastening to roof and floor will be sturdy enough. Might work if you can use screws.

A reliable fastening of the two sisal rope ends will also require some solution.

Over all, I think you might end up with a lot of work anyway.

AbbyC2 made it! (author)2015-08-09

Thank you for this ibble! I used 10mm sisal, seems to work pretty well. Couldn't tell you how it was wrapping vs 8mm but it's pretty thick. Got tangled halfway and i think the thickness made it easier to detangle. Cats love it. Be careful when tightening the spanner bolts to keep pole in place, the point where the wall meets the ceiling got torn because of the pressure. Small paint tear i assume, hard to tell. But the resistance in tightening the bolts didn't warn me it was doing that. Happy building!

Bengt Englund (author)AbbyC22015-08-10

Thank you for sharing!

maddy.danger.kundel (author)2015-02-20

awesome tutorial, and updates!! thanks! :)

KimB3 (author)2015-01-20

Is there any reason (other than aesthetic) that the MDF parts and the cork must be circular like the part that goes inside the PVC pipe? What if they were square? Thanks!

JoeH5 made it! (author)2015-01-12

Here's mine..

The only difference was I used some vinyl flooring offcuts instead of cork.

The cats love it - great design and instructions Bengt!

It gives them access to the top of the wardrobe, to which I have fixed some old carpet for them to be comfy..

Bengt Englund (author)JoeH52015-01-13

Nice build! Thanks for sharing the picture!

KimB3 (author)2015-01-03

Do you think it would be wise to use the cork sheet that has adhesive on one side?

Bengt Englund (author)KimB32015-01-04

No, can't se any problem with that. Could even be a better solution with the cork sheet firmly fastened to the MDF plates.

Joyceline (author)2011-09-01

Question - I really like this project and I would love to make one for my cat. However, I'm a bit confuse with the bottom part of the structure.

I see that you use the 4 T-nuts and bolts to act an a spanner, then you slip a plate (with a corked side facing the floor ) under the four bolts.

Would the bolted side of the spanner slip from the smooth side of the plate? (My cat is active and is BIG...I want to make sure that thing will be stable...)

I included a picture...maybe that'll help...a picture worth a thousand words ^_^


Bengt Englund (author)Joyceline2011-09-02

Great picture! You describe you question perfectly.

I also thought of the risk of the bolt heads slipping, so I had a backup solution if it was necessary. Depends of the materials and surfaces of the bolt and plate. The friction was enough in my case.

But, if there is a risk that the friction isn't enough, the solution/modification is quite easy:

Just drill some countersunken end-holes in the plate with a diameter just a little bit larger than the screw head. That will fixate the screws in position and prevent slipping. If a harder contact surface also is needed, make the end-holes a little deeper and put a washer in it.

Hope I explained it good enough.

Happy drilling!


KimB3 (author)Bengt Englund2015-01-03

Wouldn't it be hard to drill a hole in the MDF without going all the way through, since it is so thin? Or is it okay if it goes all the way through? I too am concerned about stability, and I want to do something to secure it beyond relying on friction.

Bengt Englund (author)KimB32015-01-04

I would suggest that you first build the climbing post without making any counterbored holes. If you experience any slipping you can fix it later on. I have not had any slipping problems. If it seems to move just tighten the bolts a little.

But, for counterbored holes I use a tool like this:

An easier solution that don't need any 'special' tool is to make an extra MDF plate with holes going straight through, and glue it ontop of the bottom plate, and: Voilà! A counterbored plate with double thickness.

KimB3 (author)Bengt Englund2015-01-01

What about super-gluing the screw heads to the bottom plate? Would that make it too hard to disassemble later?

Bengt Englund (author)KimB32015-01-02

Correct, it would be difficult to disassemble and tightening later on if needed, ie. the PVC tube expands different compared to the materials used in your house.

Thank you for this ibble!! My rope is on it's way, just need to get some piping, wood, bolts, screws and a cat (on it's way tomorrow) :)

I also thought about the countersunk holes and love the idea of the washer in there too. To help stability but I'm also considering cutting some more discs, 150mm in diameter with a 110mm hole in the center (using holesaws to cut my wood), cut these in halves/quarters and insert in the gap created by the spanner section. If it's a tight enough fit it should provide a bit of extra security and the gap created by cutting them in sections should allow for a flat device to be inserted between them to pop them out if needed. It could also help with the design as there will no longer be a gap at the bottom.

I have a feeling it may be easier to wrap the pole while it's vertical, rotating the pole should hopefully prevent a lot of the tangles because the rope is just naturally fed onto it and youve got gravity helping to keep the rope down if starting at the bottom.

I don't think it's needed, but I'll be adding a small ring of cork between where the pipe and the disc's make contact, just as a slight cushioning and to prevent any shaking if there's a gap.

I was looking into this before seeing your ibble and have seen a few places recommending at least 10mm rope, just an fyi for if you ever need to change the rope. I was a bit surprised to find out that 10mm would also work out £0.58 cheaper, but all other thicker rope gradually became more expensive.

For those trying to work out how much rope they'll need, here's the formula I used:
Height of pole * (Pole Diam + Rope Diam) * Pi / Rope Diam / 1000.
eg: 2500 * (110 + 8) * 3.142 / 8 / 1000 = 115.9m (313 coils around the pole!)

I then added an extra 10% or rope for compression, I'll post back once I know if this was enough (luckily I bought enough for a taller pole as I'm now freaking out about he compression).

PS Thank you again for a method that doesn;t damage floors or ceiling, my wife will be happy!

Thank you for your new design ideas and improvements! Please feel free to share some pictures of your work in progress. Thanks for adding the rope length formula, I used a similar calculation but forgot to mention that in the instructable.

Here is some update: After 1.5 years and two cats later using the pole at least 30 times a day, i decided to tightening the sisal rope around the pole. The rope started to slack a little and showed gaps between some turns. The gaps where larger at the top of the pole, due to the cats weights during climbing pusching it downwards, as expected.

It was really easy to add some more rope, just to remove the U-bolts, compress all the turns with your hands and add some more rope. 3-4 more turns was enough.

Would suggest though that you add mostly of the extra rope inside the tube at the top, but also some at the bottom.

The funny part is that the cats LOVE this pole. They are chasing each other up to the top, tumbling around at the platform and then running down the smaller shelfs. And sometimes, just chilling, all above the rest of us mortal humans.

KimB3 (author)2015-01-02

What kind of wood did you use/would you recommend using, for the plug units?

Bengt Englund (author)KimB32015-01-02

Any wood used for common house building purposes will do fine.

TrickahTreat (author)2014-12-20

Oh my gosh! Thank you so much for posting this! I totally feel like I can do this. My cats are going to be so happy! Thank you again. Ordering rope now!

mrs_somerset (author)2014-07-18

Brilliant - I found this as we are making one with a pressure mounted metal extending pole, and was not sure of the best way to attach the sisal.

I think we will need to make another with the drain pipe too

really clear instructions, and with help from the cat too :-)

jladley (author)2014-03-15

I have a large cat... Large as in tall from paw to shouler and long from nose to bum. The posts you buy from pet stores are waaaay to short for him, and have too many platforms which don't allow the cat to stretch, I made one for my bug guy, but he's almost worn it out!... I love this idea!

cubequeen (author)2014-03-10

I love that you showed your cat "assisting."

arpad.cseh (author)2014-02-12

Hi! My name is Rufus too, Im from Serbia, Europe:) This is a good bulid:) I want it!!!:)

carolmac55 (author)2014-02-11

Very inspirational. Having read it through it came to mind the large cardboard tubular insert used by Carpet retailers would give you height and claw friendly material, wadaya think

Bengt Englund (author)carolmac552014-02-12

Hmm... interesting suggestion!

Hard to tell if it will work, without detailed knowledge of the material properties:

* Will it be sturdy enough to resist the pressure when pressed against floor and ceiling?
* Will it bend if pushed in the middle?
* Will it expand/shrink with temperature?

It might be a problem to tighten the U-bolts hard enough, without breaking the cardboard.

If you decide to test a cardboards tubulare insert, please post your experiences!

leirbagvd (author)2013-12-15

Great Instructable!!! It was exactly what I was looking for and immediately went and bought the materials to start the build. As well the shelves were a good idea but as you can see in the pic there are many windows and there was no space for wall shelf brackets, so I decided to make floating shelves instead and they worked great.

My two cats (rescued) started climbing in a few days after the post was installed and they love it.

Thanks for the inspiration!!!

P.S. since I had a lot of hallway real estate I went crazy with the shelves and ended up with a cat playground.

Bengt Englund (author)leirbagvd2013-12-16

Wow! A very nice build!

I understand that the cats love it.

atmasingh (author)2013-11-07

Here it is! Thanks once again!

Bengt Englund (author)atmasingh2013-11-08

Looks great!

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