Introduction: Large Cat Hammocks - Home or Shelter Use
This large pvc cat hammock frame's finished measurements are: 13 ½” tall, 17” wide, 22” long.
Hammocks are great places for kitties to rest comfortably on, to add a little more vertical space to their area, and are a great for the 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 in 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 standardized a large hammock frame. Using my basic sewing skills, I made simple patterns for the hammock covers, in both small and large sizes.
Step 1: The Finished Large Frame
This large hammock frame works very well in our shelter’s larger kennels. It would also be a spacious hammock for the kitty at home. The finished measurements are: 13 ½” tall, 17” wide, 22” long.
This frame works great for multiple kittens or a large cat. Customization is possible - see the notes at the end.
(If a smaller frame is needed, see my instructions titled "Small Cat Hammock - Home or Shelter Use".)
After the frame is assembled, a cover is needed for the kitties to relax on. The more weight the hammock is expected to hold, the stronger the hammock cover material needs to be.
Step 2: Materials and Steps 1 & 2
• 1 10’ stick of ¾” 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 ¾” pvc corner pieces (all sides slip, no threads)
• 4 ¾” pvc caps (slip, not threaded)
• Tape measure • Hand saw or pvc pipe cutter • pvc primer and glue - optional
Step 1. Cut the pvc pipe as follows:
• 2 pieces 19” long
• 2 pieces 14” long
• 4 pieces 11” long
Step 2 Wash the pvc pipe and fittings in hot, soapy water. Dry pieces.
Step 3: Step 3
Step 3 Take the 19” length pieces, and push the corner pieces onto each side.
Step 4: Step 4
Step 4 Take the 14” pieces, and connect each side to the corner pieces, making a rectangle.
Step 5: Step 5 - 7
Step 5 Place the 4 11” pieces into the corner pieces, forming legs.
Step 6 Place the caps on the end of the 11” 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 kennel 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.
Note: This frame may be customized to fit your space. If you are going to use the hammock cover patterns that are listed next, the most important measurement is the width of the hammock. The height and length of the hammock may be altered, but keep the width the same.
Step 6: Hammock Cover
This hammock cover is basically a sleeve that fits onto the large size pvc hammock frame. I typically use the polo / golf shirt material and denim from old jeans for the large hammocks. (See notes at the end regarding fabric choice.) This pattern works for knit, woven cotton or denim fabric.
I make most of the hammock covers from previously owned shirts. and blue jeans I usually get them from family members who are no longer wearing them, or 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.
You can certainly purchase fabric for this project; I like the idea of re-using, or re-purposing fabric that I already have.
Step 7: Hammock Materials List
• 1 polo / golf shirt or old jeans or jersey or demin fabric – see notes at the end regarding fabric choice.
• Sewing machine (My favorite stitch is the “triple stretch stitch” with a twin needle. It seems to hold up really well with the weight of cats and the frequent washing in the shelter environment. I use a demin needle with the denim fabric, 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 - Knit Material - Step 1
Step 1 Cut fabric
If using knit fabric, or t-shirt, cut 2 pieces of fabric 23” long x 15” wide. If the fabric allows, you may go longer, but don’t go wider than 15”.
If using denim or woven cotton fabric, cut pieces at least 23” long. If you have a single piece of fabric, it needs to be 38" - 39" wide. If the fabric allows, you may go longer.If you are salvaging fabric from old jeans, the final width when all the pieces are sewn together needs to be 38 - 39" wide. If the fabric allows, you may go longer. Note: If using an old pair of jeans, see specific instructions after these knit instructions.
Step 9: Hammock Cover - Knit Material - Step 2
Step 2 Hem the 15” cut sides.
If this is for shelter use, and you intend to use small hammocks as well, I found it helpful to sew tags onto the covers indicating the size. I made very cheap tags using leftover fabric from the hammocks and made an instruction titled "Fabric Tags" (https://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-Fabric-Tags/) if you'd like to take a look.
Step 10: Hammock Cover - Knit Material - Steps 3 - 4
Step 3 Take the 2 pieces of fabric, and pin the right sides together.
Step 4 Sew the 23” sides together.
Step 11: Hammock Cover - Knit Material - Steps 5 - 6
Step 5 Turn right side out.
Step 6 Slide fabric onto the frame. It will be a little snug.
I like to make extra long covers, either from extra large shirts, or by sewing 2 smaller sized covers together so that it covers the sides and top of the frame. This allows for maximum privacy for the shy kitties and those new to adoption who don't quite know what's going on yet.
The length of the cover may be changed, longer or shorter, but don’t change the width.
Step 12: Hammock Cover - Denim Material - Step 1 & 2
Step 1 If using denim or woven cotton fabric, cut pieces at least 23” long. If the fabric allows, you may go longer.
When the pieces are sewn together and laid flat, the fabric needs to be between 38" - 39" wide.
Step 2 If using an old pair of jeans, prepare the fabric by cutting the legs off the jeans below the pockets. (Save the top of the jeans for another project.)
If there are minor holes in the fabric, they may be patched. Instructions for that follow.
Step 13: Hammock Cover - Denim Material - Step 3
Step 3 Cut fabric into a rectangle.
The scrap material may be used for patching holes or worn areas.
Step 14: Hammock Cover - Denim Material - Step 4
Step 4 If there are any holes or worn areas in the fabric, they can be easily and quickly fixed. Cut a piece of fabric a little larger than the hole.
Step 15: Hammock Cover - Denim Material - Step 5
Step 5 Place the patch, right side up, on top of the right side of the fabric, over the hole and attach with pins or scotch tape.
Step 16: Hammock Cover - Denim Material - Step 6
Step 6 Using a zig zag stitch, sew the patch onto the fabric. Make sure the one side of the stitch goes into the patch and the other side goes into the fabric.
Step 17: Hammock Cover - Denim Material - Step 7
Step 7 When done sewing all sides of the patch, turn fabric over and apply fray check (or equivalent) around the hole.
Step 18: Hammock Cover - Denim Material - Step 8
Step 8 Sew a zig zag stitch along each cut side of fabric.
Denim frays and unravels easily. Sewing a zig zag stitch prevents this from happening.
Step 19: Hammock Cover - Denim Material - Steps 9 - 11
Step 9 With right sides together, sew the long seams together with a straight stitch.
Step 10 This stitch goes beside the zig zag stitch.
Step 11 When done, the fabric will be flat.
Step 20: Hammock Cover - Denim Material - Step 12
Step 12 Hem the wide sides. If you are using a tag, sew tag along with the hem.
Note: I made very cheap tags using leftover fabric from the hammocks and made an instruction titled "Fabric Tags" (https://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-Fabric-Tags/) if you'd like to take a look.
Step 21: Hammock Cover - Denim Material - Step 13
Step 13 With right sides together, sew the last long seams together. This creates a sleeve.
Step 22: Hammock Cover - Denim Material - Step 14 - 16
Step 14 Turn sleeve right side out.
Step 15 Slide fabric onto frame.
Step 16 Add cat.