7 Things You Can Make With a Box (That Your Cat Will Go Bonkers For)

cat cardboard box maze

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

cat eyes in a box

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:

Pip’s single favorite square foot in the entire house.

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

cardboard patterned cat house


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:

kill meeee how freakin’ cute is this thing??

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!
double decker cat playhouse cardboard

Oh Martha! I love it, thank you.



#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?

Look. At. This. Epicness.

Tutorial via Instructables, here.


Once you’ve got the basics nailed down, go crazy with some even more inventive shapes:

cardboard cat cocoons

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.


diy cat scratcher lounge

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:

For some reason this is a real toy sold in stores. Because making your own would just be too much effort, I suppose.

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.

Like so:

cardboard cat toy

Perfectly-cut stars and half-moon shapes optional.

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.




The struggle is real.

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

Read on: Why are cats so obsessed with boxes, anyway?

Get the lowdown on good vs. toxic cat treats


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Cardboard box cat diys

12 comments on “7 Things You Can Make With a Box (That Your Cat Will Go Bonkers For)”

  1. Chirpy Cats says:

    Thanks again for some wonderful hacks. These I am definitely bookmarking. Thursday is the dreaded R day here too for kitties. Yes, recycle day, and all their boxes get thrown out. I will be keeping back a few to make some of these. Like the house with the nice roof ???

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      I’m so glad you liked them!
      I’ll admit as I was digging around the web for these, I totally regretted throwing out a batch of boxes last week (My cats have enough cardboard playhouses but I’m dying the try the one from Martha Stewart!)

      1. Chirpy Cats says:

        Oh no, bad cat mom! ?
        Actually my husband is the ‘hoarder of boxes’ and I get a scolding when I throw out perfectly good ‘cat trapper’ MOL ?

        1. Why Cat Why says:

          Hahah!! That is too funny. Your husband sounds like a great cat dad :]

  2. aditi says:

    heeheh! so cute

  3. Steph S. says:

    Zooey and Neville love to chew on boxes! Cardboard is seriously their favorite chew toy (besides MacBook Pro power cables -_-).

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Lol! Oh dear… I feel your pain. I have to hide all the plastic bags in our house or Sita will eat them. I just don’t get it.

  4. Ellen Pilch says:

    Those are all great. I turned one of our cardboard boxes into Dr. Who’s TARDIS for my cats.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Omg.. that sounds seriously epic.

  5. These are so cute. Cats do love boxes.

  6. Elise says:

    So many great DIY projects collected here! To think they’re all from cardboard! Love the ideas. Thanks so much 🙂

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hi Elise, thanks so much! Isn’t it great? We’re constantly ordering from chewy and Amazon so cardboard is never in short supply around here. 😀

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