DIY Cat Scratch Towers For Beginners & Pros

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Building your own cat scratch tower can be as simple as attaching a scrap of carpet or a throw rug to the top of a small table. Next, wrap the table legs with a length of sisal rope and its finished!

If you like the idea of a custom made cat tower, check out the second set of instructions below for a homemade cat scratcher.

3-Step Cat Scratch Tower

This method is simple, and is the best bet for anyone not familiar with electric tools and basic carpentry.

Materials for a Simple Cat Scratch Tower

  • Small patch of carpeting or a rug
  • Sturdy string
  • Feathers
  • Brazilian sisal rope (it’s less “oily” than other kinds)
  • An old/cheap side table (check Walmart & IKEA for tables under $20)
  • Hot glue gun

If you have carpeting in your home, it’s a good idea to use a carpet sample for your scratch tower that looks and feels nothing like your existing carpet. That way, your adorable kitty won’t start to associate all carpets with scratching.


  1. Attach feathers to the end of a string, then glue the other end of the string to the top of the table. The feathers on the end of the string should hang over the edge of the table at least one foot off the ground. These will be the “danglers” your cat can bat at in between scratching. Make only one, or have a string hanging off all four sides of the table. It’s up to you!
  2. Use a hot glue gun to attach a piece of carpeting or a small rug to the top of the table (over the glued-on ends of string).
  3. Wrap sisal rope around the legs of the table, and affix with the hot glue gun.

All done! Just be sure the glue is dry before your cat gives it a try.

Materials & Tools for a Handmade Cat Scratcher

Covering materials can be a remnant of deep pile carpeting, sisal carpeting, or even sisal rope. Make the base and top perch out of ¾-inch plywood. Use a wood 4x4 for the tower column.

  • 24 x 24-inch ¾ plywood for base
  • 12 x 12-inch ¾ plywood for top perch
  • 4 x 4 x 40-inch wood for column
  • double sided carpet tape
  • tube of liquid nails adhesive if not using double sided tape
  • carpet approx. 2.5 yards
  • #9 x 3-inch deck screws (10)
  • staple gun
  • electric drill and drill bits
  • utility or carpet knife
  • screwdriver

What size Tower fits your cat?

A scratch tower should be at least 2-inches taller than the cat’s reach. For most cats, a 40-inch tower will be perfect. The base should be at least 60 percent of the height. A 24-inch wide base will prevent the tower from tipping over.

Instructions for a Homemade Cat Scratch Tower

  1. Start with the 24-inch base and draw lines connecting the opposing corners to locate the center of the base. Repeat this for the top perch.
  2. Drill a hole, in the center, through the base and through the top perch.
  3. Cover the base with carpet using liquid nails adhesive or double-sided carpet tape.
  4. Cut the carpet 8-inches wider than the base and top. Measure out ¾-inch from the base and cut each corner at a 45-degree angle, leaving 4-inches of carpet at each side to fold around the edge. Do not cover the top yet.
  5. Next, cover the center column with carpet.
  6. Attach the base to the column with one of the deck screws and tighten.
  7. Twist the 4 x 4 column to align it with the base.
  8. Working from the bottom side, measure along the “X” mark lines 1-1/2-inches outward from the center mark and drill four additional holes.
  9. Attach the four deck screws through these holes. Repeat the process for the top perch.
  10. Then cover the top perch with carpet as was done for the base.
  11. Staple all carpet edges with staple gun to reinforce the seams.
  12. Some cats prefer sisal rope for scratching. Consider covering 20-inches or more of the column with 3/8-inch Brazilian sisal rope. A 50-foot roll of sisal rope will cover 22-inches of the column when tightly wrapped. Cover the sisal rope ends with an inch of clear plastic tubing or automotive fuel line tubing. This will allow the rope to be screwed into the column with a single pan-head screw at each end preventing it from fraying out over time.
Last Updated: April 15, 2013
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About Bill Washburn William "Bill" Washburn has a BA in advertising from the Art Center College of Design and has taught at the University of Southern California and Northrup University. Writing from a well-connected studio in the rural foothills of the west coast, he is a frequent speaker at local art associations and has published numerous articles discussing periods of art history and the fundamentals of drawing and painting. William is a master gardener who grows his own culinary herbs, organic heirloom vegetables and a variety of fruits. He writes frequently about his gardening experiences on his website Pioneer Dad. He is an accomplished advertising writer, fine art painter, and art director with more than 20 years' experience. 

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