Couch Arm Cat Scratcher

Blog, Cats, Home, Living Room, Woodworking / Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

Marley was declawed when I got her. I didn't need to make that decision, and it was a blessing in disguise. Since getting her, I've learned more about the declawing process and am torn. On one hand, cats need the protection and do not deserve to have that sort of procedure, but on the other hand, it's nice not having to worry about the destructive claws of a cat. It's no wonder there are millions of results for "cat scratcher", it's a problem that needs an elegant solution.

Ellie's cat Tilly did not come declawed, and she makes it known. Is Tilly on her back, inviting a belly scratch? No, Tilly is laying a trap to scratch you when you reach in for the inviting soft belly. Is Tilly going to lightly massage your belly after a large meal? No, Tilly is going to puncture holes in your stomach to make you regret eating so much food. Is Tilly going to calmly walk past the couch? No, Tilly is going to destroy the abomination if it's the last thing she does. She does it because she knows it drives me crazy.

Tilly Lounging

There's a certain pleasure in snipping Tilly's nails.

But I know she's going to scratch, so as a pet owner I must set her up for success. For me, success is scratching the right things and keeping my couch intact. 

I recently watched a video from Texas makers Evan and Katelyn who explain how to make a cat scratcher to set your cat up for success.

Ellie and I loved the idea so much, I made two of them. They are super easy to make, assuming you have the right tools.

I was fortunate enough to have enough scraps from other projects to put together the scratchers. Following the process in the video, I made the first of the two scratchers by measuring a bit and fitting the other pieces until the lengths seemed right.

Even though I watched the video with the steps, the process had a bit of a learning curve. I tried to make things fancier than they needed to be and I also used a couple tools for the first time while making the cat scratchers.

I wanted to add a foot to the longest board to rest on the floor and potentially mitigate some floor scratching, but this made the design more complicated than it needed to be or even could be. Adding the foot made it nearly impossible to slide the scratcher over the arm of the couch. I thought the foot would add stability, but in the end, it really wouldn't have added anything to the finished piece, just an extra piece of wood that you never saw because it was stuck under the couch.

To tie the boards together, I used a Kreg pocket hole jig for the first time. Once you know how to use one, the process is pretty straightforward. But I was learning as I went and I think I set the depth wrong on one of the two cat scratchers. The jig is clamped to the board and drills pocket holes at the right angle to join two boards together at a 90-degree angle. I'm not a huge fan of the joint it makes, it doesn't seem too secure but maybe this wasn't the best application. From what I gather, the pocket hole is a polarizing topic among woodworkers.

After joining the boards together, I used my router for the first real-world application. I've tried the router before but haven't had a project until the cat scratcher. I wanted to use a round-over bit to make the corners smooth to the touch. Let me tell you, the router is easy to use but also a bit terrifying. Something about the high-speed cutting blade that makes me respect the tool even more.

Then it was a matter of drilling holes to feed the sisal through and securing it to the board. Honestly, the hole and the screw to secure it were the most important takeaways for me from Evan and Katelyn's video. Then I spent about twenty minutes wrapping two rolls (50 feet each) around the board. On the second cat scratcher I made, I did this before attaching the third board to the rest. It made it much easier to wrap.

Finally, all that was left was to put on a couple coats of polyurethane to protect the wood.

Ellie and I love that the cat scratcher doubles as couch arm tables for us. It's nice to have a place to put our drinks while we're sitting on the couch. 

Tilly is slowly coming around to the idea that she can use the cat scratcher instead of the couch. A few times I've caught her using it. Stella has caught her too and intervened. We'll make sure she's absolutely comfortable scratching where she's supposed to. If need be, I'll dust the sisal with some catnip to entice her.

Do you have a cat who destroys things? Are you now considering also making one of these useful cat scratchers? Leave a comment below and tell me about it!

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