Introduction: Small Cat Hammocks - Home or Shelter Use

Picture of Small Cat Hammocks - Home or Shelter Use

This small pvc pipe cat hammock frame's finished measurements are: 10” tall, 10 ½" wide, 16 ½” long.

Hammocks are great places for kitties to rest comfortably on, to add a little more vertical space to their area, and are great for shy kitties to hide under.

These are very easy to make for home use and several can easily be made for animal shelter use. They are especially useful during kitten season. And if the kittens manage to pull it over, it is very light weight and no one will get squished.

When I starting volunteering at my local animal shelter, I saw that someone had made pvc pipe frame cat hammocks. The hammock frames were various sizes, some were damaged and there weren’t a lot of hammock covers to use. They were also fairly large, so they wouldn’t fit in the smaller kennels.

I designed some smaller hammocks to fit into most of the cat kennels, and designed a standard large hammock. Using my basic sewing skills, made simple patterns for the hammock covers, in both small and large sizes.

Step 1: The Finished Small Frame

Picture of The Finished Small Frame

This small hammock frame works very well in most of our shelter’s kennels. The finished measurements are: 10” tall, 10 ½" wide, 16 ½” long.

This frame works best with small to medium sized kitties. I've seen 3 kittens on top of it and kittens under it. I’ve seen some of the larger cats try to fit on it, but if their kennel has room, the large frame works better for them.

(If a larger frame is needed, see my instructions titled "Large Cat Hammock - Home or Shelter Use").

Step 2: Materials and Steps 1 - 2

Picture of Materials and Steps 1 - 2

Material List:

• 1 10’ stick of ½” pvc pipe – I typically use the “thin wall”, or class 200, pvc pipe. This pipe is thinner, lighter weight, and cheaper than the “thick wall”, or schedule 40, pvc pipe. But either type of pvc pipe will work for this project.

• 4 ½” pvc corner pieces (all sides slip, no threads)

• 4 ½” pvc caps (slip, not threaded)


Step 1. Cut the pvc pipe as follows:

• 2 pieces 14” long

• 6 pieces 8” long

Step 2. Wash the pvc pipe and fittings in hot, soapy water. Dry pieces.

Step 3: Step 3

Picture of Step 3

3. Take the 14” length pieces, and push the corner pieces onto each end.

Step 4: Step 4

Picture of Step 4

Step 4 Take 2 of the 8” pieces, and connect each end to the corner pieces, making a rectangle.

Step 5: Steps 5 - 7

Picture of Steps 5 - 7

Step 5 Insert the remaining 4 8” pieces in the corner pieces, forming legs.

Step 6 Place the caps on the ends of the 8” legs.

Step 7 If you wish to use pvc cement to glue the frame together, you may, but it is not required. Read and follow the glue and primer manufacturer’s directions exactly.

Most of the frames at our shelter are not glued together. Occasionally, the cats are able to disassemble the frames, but they can be quickly reassembled.

Next step – create covers for the kitties to relax on, or under.

Step 6: Hammock Cover Materials

Picture of Hammock Cover Materials

The hammock cover is basically a sleeve that fits onto the frame. I typically use t-shirt or golf / polo shirt material for the small hammocks. I also use denim and cotton woven fabric as well.

I make most of the hammock covers from previously owned clothing, mostly shirts & jeans. I usually get them from family members who are no longer wearing them, or from thrift shops and yard sales. When I get the clothes home, I wash them in hot water and add ½ - 1 cup of white vinegar with the laundry soap to get any storage smells out.

Step 7: Hammock Cover Materials List

Materials List:

• 1 t-shirt or polo shirt or just under a yard of jersey, knit, cotton or denim fabric – see notes at the end regarding fabric choice

• Sewing machine My favorite stitch is the “triple stretch stitch” with a twin needle. When using denim fabric, I use a denim needle. This stitch seems to hold up really well with the weight of cats and the frequent washing in the shelter environment, but a regular straight stitch with a single needle works as well.

• Fray Check (not required, but highly recommended) • Thread • Scissors • Ruler or measuring tape

Step 8: Hammock Cover Step 1

Picture of Hammock Cover Step 1


1. If using jersey or knit fabric - cut 2 pieces of fabric 16” long and 12” wide. If the fabric allows, you may go longer, but don’t go wider than 12”.

Note: In the above picture, the length is 23", due to the size of the shirt.

Note: If you do not want the graphics to show on the hammock cover, turn the fabric inside out.

Note: I have been using a double layer of t-shirt material for our larger cats, and it's worked great (one t-shirt for the top and one t-shirt for the bottom).

• If using demin or woven cotton material - cut 15" long x 13" wide. If the fabric allows, you may go longer, but don’t go wider than 13”.

• If you use a t shirt, cut the fabric as shown. If cut the other way, the fabric will be much more stretchy.

• If using cotton or denim fabric, it doesn't matter which way the fabric is cut.

Step 9: Hammock Cover Step 2

Picture of Hammock Cover Step 2

Step 2 Hem the 12” cut side(s). If you are using a tag, sew tag with the hem.

Note: If using woven cotton or denim, I do a zig-zag stitch along the cut fabric edge before hemming to prevent the fabric from unraveling and fraying. I was surprised how much denim frays!

If you need some ideas on how to make simple tags, see my instructions titled "Simple Fabric Tags" .

Step 10: Hammock Cover Step 3

Picture of Hammock Cover Step 3

Step 3 Take the top and bottom fabric pieces and place right sides together. Sew the 16” sides together.

Step 11: Hammock Cover Steps 4 - 6

Picture of Hammock Cover Steps 4 - 6

Step 4 Turn right side out.

Step 5 Use a few drops of Fray Check to secure any stitching close to the edge of the fabric or areas that may experience stress.

Step 6 Slide fabric onto the frame.

Notes: Fabric choice - I stay away from slippery or very stretchy material. The slippery material doesn’t stay on the frame very well and the stretchy material doesn’t have the strength to hold much weight.

Step 12: A Few Pictures of the Hammocks in Use at Our Shelter.

Picture of A Few Pictures of the Hammocks in Use at Our Shelter.


MelissaM285 (author)2017-01-02

Thanks for sharing this! I'm not great with a sewing machine but wanted a cover that could be removed and washed because, well, cat hair and smell and because we foster kittens and hospice kitties. This will make my life so much easier!!!

Dwargh (author)2016-10-27

Thank you for sharing this amazing idea! I think I'm gonna rush into our local hardware store the next couple of days and build one for my cats! :)

ShonaG3 (author)2016-09-27

Thank you for sharing your instructable, I am going to make two of these for both of my boys. If I make one, they will fight over it, so it's easier to make two.

Re, the black cat under the pink hammock lying on a colourful pillow, is that a pillow or cushion that this cat is lying on or have you made a second hammock for the kitty to lie on?

Your b&w cat and the black one could be my cats as my boys look like those two ?


jimmcneil2 (author)2016-08-06

that's awesome but my cat will be looking for the box it came in or the computer screen in back of it

EllaFella (author)2016-01-27

so cute these are my cats

photo 1. Pouncer

photo 2. Shadow

photo 3. Pouncer again

photo 4. Shadow again

those are my two cats

firstbk50 (author)2015-12-07

What a great idea! Something anyone can make and donate to a shelter or a bunch of shelters as very good deeds. These would be an inexpensive thing to donate and make a lot of animal happy! Great job indeed.

Daggery (author)2015-11-16

Hey!! This is a very good idea!! I'm going to share it with some shelters in my country so they could help kitties!!! Thank you very much!! :D

KasiaK3 (author)2015-08-27

Thank you for making my late nigh read! Kudos!

Paige NicoleD (author)2015-07-06

Awesome. Has anyone tried a larger one for dogs?

Expana (author)2015-06-26

You are amazing!! Thank you for helping the kitties! The hammock is awesome! xx Natalie

raptor_demon made it! (author)2015-05-14

Worked out great thanks! unfortunatly the cat decided to pee on it instead, but i made 2 covers so its all good!

raptor_demon (author)2015-05-13

going to build this tonight! thanks

sazure (author)2015-02-05

Acetone (or any such petro based glue
many use to bind PVC – not sure if this was done here) are very toxic to
cats health (as well most synthetic chemicals found in most all
household and persona care products in America these days. (and all
those products like soaps, cleaners, plug in’s on and on )

I can not take the time to show the research (science background and
long gone to MCS groups), but having recovered from chemical injury end
stage (almost died) and using all holistic means to recover (but can not
be around synthetic products ever again) I started to research cat
info. (had studied pre vet at one point).

Cats are not like humans at all. They come from the African desert
and are more like camels their colons unique to extract water and reason
why dry catfood is injurious. As well like ferns and other prehistoric
plants (no flowers) they are harmed by even natural oils (all of which
contain toxins the plants use to combat bugs, molds, viruses) and have
to be used carefully. (natural flea but then keeping pet inside is best
these days or a cat run)

They are greatly harmed by “scented” kitty litter (most made from
petroleum left over sludge and that includes your products as well)
household cleaning products (on the floor – dogs are harmed as well),
soaps, cleaners and the list is long. Our government does not require
these to be labeled as the Pharmaceutical companies make many of these
toxic products. Think Bayer Aspirin Bayer Pesticides.

bryan3141 (author)sazure2015-05-03

half information is sometimes worse than no information. The "glue" in question is actually a combination of PVC and a solvent (acetone And other, nastier organic solvents ). When the solvents evaporate, the joint is practically indistinguishable from the pipe itself.

nbruno1 (author)2015-03-19

I made this because my two cats were always fighting over a box. They love this. Possibly going to make more; one for my other cat, one for my friend and her 2 cats, and a few for the local kitteh rescue. This was so easy and so awesome to make.

Only issue I had is that I don't sew, so I had to use fabric glue, but that wasn't an issue once it dried.

ffiend (author)2015-02-20

So cute!! I want to adopt all those kitties too, if I had a bigger place. Definitely think my cats would enjoy this Instructable.

ShinyCat (author)2015-02-11

Where on earth do you find those wonderful three way corners for regular PVC? I'd love to make some of these, but I've looked for these before locally and never been able to find them.

Miss Saira (author)ShinyCat2015-02-11

I find the 3 way corner pieces at my local hardware store. In my area we have TrueValue, Ace, Lowe's and Home Depot and they all carry them. You can also find them at Search for: pvc pipe fittings

PaganSoccerMom (author)2015-02-06

Love it, thanks! I've made large ones for my dogs and omitted glue in order to change out the cover. It's worked just fine. So no toxic issues for those with concerns. It's also cheaper and less messy... :)

rvt1985 (author)2015-02-06

Really good idea, thanks for sharing!

tjk1939 (author)2015-02-05

Great ible. My kitty will have one. Too bad you were sent the health notification, must have been sent by a resident of the nanny state. Fortunately there are people who can think for themselves left in the world. The acetone is not going to be ingested by the cat, nor eaten. As a matter of fact some of the pipes in their houses are put together with the same glue. Safe if you don't eat or drink it.

fred_dot_u (author)2015-02-05

I like the rope idea in an earlier comment. One can also clean all the markings off the pipe with acetone from the local hardware store. Great instructable.

ralema69 (author)2015-02-05

I like this style of hammock you made. Please check out my similar hammock that I posted a couple years ago. That's why I love this site, how many different styles and modifications people can make. This is a really cool idea with being able to slide on the hammock material. Great job! (my ex took the cat I made mine for, but am constantly watching for new ideas and things to make for people! )

strick (author)2015-02-05

Great, ible, and well done. For the hammock, I'd suggest using old towels, with velcro sewn on so they could be easily removed and laundered.

sway (author)strick2015-02-05

Great suggestion

bstorer (author)2015-02-05

What an easy project! Thanks for sharing! I'm going to send your Instructable PDF to our Shelter. Love it! I enjoyed the input of different ideas from the comments as well.

aa60 (author)2015-02-05

what a nice simple idea and it gets a vote from my 3 cats.......Purrrrrrrrrrrr

kagu632418 (author)2015-02-05

Thank you, this is wonderful. I have five cats and will make these hammocks for them :)

ashleyjlong (author)2015-02-04

Very nice! This would be a great project to upcycle old pillow cases as well.

IBRX (author)2015-02-04

I love your cat

indestructable (author)2015-02-03

I'd add wrapping natural rope around the legs, gluing the ends in place. Give the cats something natural to scratch on.

Mielameri (author)2015-02-02

Well done! And I love that you used t-shirts for the fabric on the hammock. Great recycle

jmyers1 (author)2015-02-01

Bless you for taking the time to help these animals. I'd leave crying every day, wanting to take them all home.

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