7 Things You Can Make With a Box (That Your Cat Will Go Bonkers For)
If you’re a fan of buying things online, like I know you are (because I assume everyone in the world is like me), cardboard boxes tend to accumulate in your house. Glorious boxes of all different sizes n’ color n’ ply. Cat heaven, basically.
So imagine your cats’ chagrin each time you unceremoniously dump this precious cargo out on Thursday mornings, when the recycling truck comes rumbling through. “Wait,” your cats scream (if they could scream). “What the f#$% are you doing???”
What the f#$%, indeed.
Especially if you’re dropping loads of cash on oodles of fancy cat toys, beds and hideaways—then double wtf! Sure, my house has all the usual mass-produced necessities, like a sturdy cat tree, specialized cat scratchers, heated beds, and window perches (..is that all, Stef?), but nearly everything else is handmade. Out of a repurposed cardboard box.
Let the glorious DIYs commence!
#1: The most perfect hidden hideaway
Let’s start with the obvious.
I’m a staunch believer in providing skittish cats with hiding places. If you discourage a cat’s need to hide, or—god forbid—block their access to hiding places completely, be prepared for a doubly nervous/skittish cat. Who probably now shits on your bed in fits of stress.
Hiding is an essential coping mechanism for uneasy cats. In fact, cats provided with hideouts are far more likely to overcome their anxiety and quickly adapt to foreign environments. And yes, this is actually a scientifically tested fact.*
*Sidenote: Isn’t it awesome that there are actually researchers out there studying this stuff? God I love cat people.
With that said, let’s clear out the crap from under your bed and make your cat a hidey-hole. A padded cat bed tucked far underneath your bed is great. A padded cat bed nestled inside of a box tucked under your bed is even greater.
Find a box that can comfortably fit your cat’s favorite bed, a flat pillow, kennel liner, or even just a folded towel. Cut the walls down so it can slide under your bed, but not so much that it no longer blocks your cat from view. Allowing your cat to feel invisible is the key here. Cut an “U” shape from one side of the box to serve as a kitty door. Line with fluffy item of choice. And voila: cat heaven.
Here are some horrible grainy photos to highlight just how high tech this setup really is:
The best part is, it’s completely out of sight, so you don’t even have to bother prettifying it. And your cats won’t know the difference.
#2: The most perfect not-so-hidden hideaway
Let’s make a prettified version of our under-bed hideaway.
This time, instead of slicing off the top of your box, tape it shut (or shape it into a pitched roof, you crafty thing, you). Cut a circular or U-shaped door in the side with a box-cutter.
Since this cat hideout will likely be out in your living room in full view of any pearl-clutching guests, wrap the exterior in some cute patterned contact paper, or grab the kids (or your inner child) and cut some roof shingles for your kitty cabin, like so:
Once again, line the hideaway with a fluffy item of your choice. Tuck your creation in a corner, next to the couch, or on an accessible shelf. If your cats don’t take to it right away, wait a few days for the smell of the contact paper and glue to fade. Sprinkle some catnip inside to speed the process. Watch in satisfaction as your cat ventures inside and never emerges.
Wanna try for a fancy double-decker playhouse? Martha Stewart’s got you covered!
#3: The craftiest cat house/scratcher combo
Getting a little more sophisticated here.
If you have wayy too much cardboard (and time) on your hands, then this DIY is for you. The design is based on a stylish (expensive) cat house made by some company somewhere…I’m too lazy to look it up. But why bother looking up the manufacturer when you can make the same thing yourself for a fraction of the cost, and just a tiny bit of added elbow grease/swearing?
Tutorial via Instructables, here.
Once you’ve got the basics nailed down, go crazy with some even more inventive shapes:
2-ply cardboard is key when making these. Unless you are a masochist.
#4: Cat scratcher/lounger combo
I love this DIY since it’s reminiscent of one of my cats’ favorite loungers of all time, the PetFusion Infinity. That thing is damn expensive, though.
So here’s how you could go about creating your own, with just some strips of cardboard cut down to size and a bit of tape. For some reason cats just LOVE lying on cardboard cross-sections smashed together. It’s like a weird cat fetish.
Full tutorial here.
To even better replicate the sloping curve of the PetFusion (and greatly increase kitty’s lounging ecstasy), I’d recommend cutting the cardboard strips ever-so-gradually taller as you wrap towards the outer edge, creating a shallow bowl shape. Cats dig the feeling of being cradled from all sides.
#5: Cat box whack-a-mole
Have you seen the video yet? If you haven’t, you really should.
Here’s a preview:
Full video here.
A crafty kitty parent made a brilliantly simple interactive game to play with his kitten. Need I say more?
If you fear your finger getting eviscerated by your cat’s needle-like talons, a mouse toy glued to a stick works just as well:
To make cutting circles in cardboard a little easier, trace your box cutter around a hard round object, like a shot glass or bottle cap. And remember, if your circles aren’t 100% perfect, your cat will definitely notice and will likely disown you.
#6: Easy skittering cat ball toy
My cats are obsessed with crumpled up paper balls. Here’s how to make a sturdier version using scraps of cardboard cut into varying shapes and strung together.
To challenge a more agile cat, cut the cardboard pieces into a series of gradually tapering circles to make a rounder ball shape.
Next, use a box cutter to puncture a small hole in the center of each piece, and thread a stack of them snugly together with a hair elastic, knotted at both ends. Spritz with a bit of catnip spray. Sit back and watch glorious, unbridled mayhem ensue.
#7: Cat trap
Ok, this one is just a box sitting on your desk. But if your cats are anything like mine, they can sense when you’ve got a deadline/bills to pay/cat articles to write and will do everything in their power to thwart your efforts.
On such an occasion, employ a cat trap, aka a perfectly-sized (depending on your cat) cardboard box sitting on your desk. Kitty will immediately and happily enter into a state of self-imposed quarantine, curling up contentedly in said box for the remainder of your work session.
Remember — in order for the cat trap to work, you must keep it close by, ideally on your work surface. Kitty, while a big fan of being attention-seeking and intrusive, also just wants to be near you. Cats absolutely adore their peoples.
Got some ideas of your own? Share the love!
Want even more ingenious DIYs? A few more of my favorites, here