Introduction: Cardboard Gingerbread Cat House
For someone who has made at least five different cat houses out of cardboard this year, you think I'd get tired of it. But I'm not and I probably won't ever be.
Making little cat houses out of cardboard is kind of like being an amateur architect. It takes math and planning and creativity. That's not to say I didn't come up with a lot of ideas while actively working on this project -- there was a lot of improvisation involved.
This particular cat house is supposed to look like a gingerbread house. The cardboard is kind of like the gingerbread and white paint is kind of like icing, and it was a lot of fun putting it all together. It was the perfect project to get me in the Christmas spirit.
There were a lot of steps involved so, without further ado, let's get started.
Step 1: Supplies
- 1 large cardboard box
- 1 medium-sized cardboard box
- 1 small cardboard box/extra cardboard
- 1 cat scratcher bed (or another box)
- Hot glue gun + hot glue sticks
- X-acto/craft knife
- White acrylic paint
Step 2: Build the Base
First, start with your large cardboard box. Hot glue the smaller lid flaps to the larger flaps (on both ends) so it's sturdier and can't be opened from either end.
Grab your medium-sized cardboard box (I had to feed my cat in order to get her off of it) and cut two large rectangles, big enough to be the roof for your large box.
(My large box was about 19" wide x 11" tall x 14" deep and each one of the two cardboard rectangles I cut was 23" wide x 16" tall.)
Hot glue the roof rectangles onto the box, with some of the roof overlapping, and then hot glue them together where the edges meet at the top.
As you can see, it's already starting to look like a house!
Step 3: Make the Gable
Now to make the gable and fill out the second story of the house:
Grab the cat scratcher bed and hold it up against the front of the roof in the very center. Grab a pencil and trace around the sides and top (leave the bottom intact). Once you can fit the cat scratcher bed inside, cut a rectangular hole on the other side.
(We'll be cutting these holes more later on; this is just a starting point.)
At this point, you can also hot glue the flap that you left from the first hole you cut to the front of the cat scratcher bed. See the third picture for what that looks like.
Step 4: Cut the Gable Roof
Cut a piece of cardboard that looks like the first picture. I didn't really measure anything -- I kind of just winged it.
Here's how I did it: I cut a rectangle that, when folded in half, was long enough to cover the top edges of the cat scratcher bed. It was approximately 23" long by 10" wide. But since the roof needed to be straight, the edges that attach to the roof needed to be diagonal. So I just trimmed them at an angle until they lined up with the house's roof.
Then I hot glued it in place.
Then (and I forgot to take a picture of this part) I cut out the triangular piece that was just under the gable roof with my X-acto knife. You can see that part marked in red on the last photo in this step.
Step 5: Finish the Gable
Now to make it look more like a house.
Cut an equilateral pentagon cardboard piece that's as wide as the front part of the cat scratcher bed and tall enough to fit snugly under the gable roof. Draw and cut a simple window out of the top half.
Hot glue this piece underneath the gable, to the front of the cat scratcher bed.
This is your completed gable!
As you can see, this is the point where I also cut out windows and a door on the first floor of the house.
Step 6: Add Some Reinforcements
For some simple reinforcement brackets, use cardboard!
From your scrap of cardboard, cut strips that are approximately 1.5" tall by 4" wide and make sure the cardboard corrugation is running vertically. Make a small slice in the middle of the strip, but only go through the top layer. That way, you can have a right angle for a sufficient bracket.
Hot glue a bunch of these brackets inside of the cat house, reinforcing the gable to the main part of the house. I think I used about 8 to 10 of them to make the gable really secure. I also used a couple on the back part of the second floor, as you can see in the last picture.
Step 7: Add the Sides
Cut two simple acute triangle shapes big enough for the sides of the second story and hot glue them to the sides of the cat scratcher bed. You can also add some more cardboard brackets on the inside to make it more secure.
Step 8: Make a Chimney
Cut two rectangular pieces of cardboard that have a fold in them, like where a lid meets the side of a box. Cut two identical triangular shapes that match the angle of the roof out of each cardboard rectangle.
Glue the pieces together to make a 3D chimney shape (and add more cardboard brackets to make it more secure).
I didn't glue my chimney onto the roof at this point because I wanted to paint it and the roof first.
Step 9: Paint!
This is the fun part.
Now you get to decorate your gingerbread house!
Paint around the windows, add dots and hearts and snowflakes and swirly lines, paint shingles on the roof and bricks on the chimney. Decorate the house as much or as little as you'd like.
After I painted the shingles onto the roof, I cut rounded edges on the bottom edge of the roof.
At this point, I hot glued the chimney to the roof of the house.
Step 10: Add Some "snow"
Just to make it look a little more like a gingerbread house, I decided to add some "snow" -- or "frosting" I suppose.
I just ran my hot glue gun around the edges of the roof and the chimney, and the melted glue kind of looks like snow after it's painted white.
This step isn't necessary, but I think it adds a little somethin'.
Step 11: Add a Welcome Mat
Another unnecessary step: add a welcome mat.
I cut a long rectangular piece of cardboard that was exactly as wide as the front door. Then I painted a small welcome mat that said "MEOWY CATMAS" and hot glued the rectangle to the inside of the first floor, leaving the welcome mat portion to hang just outside the front door.
Step 12: All Finished!
This project took a couple of days, but the cats seem to be loving it so I'm glad I did it.
The fact is, cats love cardboard, therefore they love cardboard houses. Rudy, the smaller female calico cat, has the second floor all to herself, as Arthur, the large Maine Coon cat, is far too large and fluffy to attempt to get inside.
Rudy, who is about 9 years old, likes to sit on the second floor and patrol the apartment from her higher vantage point, while Arthur, who is 18 years old, is perfectly content with laying and lounging on the first floor.
I love how this project turned out, and it even made an appearance in our annual holiday photo!
First Prize in the
Holiday Decorations Speed Challenge