Cats need to scratch. That's their way of exercising toes and removing old claw sheaths. Aside from that, it just feels good. You can buy a cat scratching post, make your own, or see your sofa destroyed. Cat furniture does not have to be complex or difficult. It does need to be stable, though. Let's think about a basic cat scratching post. There are only 3 components; a base, a post, and a top. We'll look at each.
The base. A cat scratching post needs to be stable. A post that tips over when in use can scare your cat away, often never to return. The base should be at least 16" by 16" square and cut from 3/4" plywood or particle board. The base can be painted, covered with cut pile carpet, or covered with fabric. Carpet will hold up better, and, if you have scraps from your home it will match your décor. Cut pile carpet will not snag your cat's claws like shag or loop. The best and easiest way to make a base is to paint the edge of the board and hot melt the carpet to the surface. Fast, easy, neat. Make the base first.
The post. The scratching post itself is made from two pieces of 2x4 nailed together. Typical post height should be longer than your cat is tall (stretched out). Cats like to stretch when scratching. Most commercial cat scratching posts are 26" to 30" tall. Nail your 2x4's together and cut both ends square. You will wrap the post with 1/4", non-oiled, sisal rope. This kind of rope is sold at most hardware stores or home centers. To determine the amount of rope you need you can figure about five feet for each inch in post height. For example a 30" scratching post would need 5 x 30, or 150'. Sisal is the best cat scratching medium and is very inexpensive. To wrap the post first drill a quarter inch hole about one inch deep anywhere very near the bottom edge of the post and at the top edge. These are where you will anchor the rope. Attach the post to the top of the carpeted base with four 3" long deck screws. Screw tightly right through the carpet. Squirt some hot melt glue in the hole you drilled and insert the end of the rope. Now it's just a matter of wrapping the rope around the post. You must wrap it tightly. After every ten or twelve wraps, while maintaining tension, use a hammer to tap the wraps together. If you skip this step your cat will end up compressing the wraps when he uses the post and you'll have a gap at the top. When you get to the top use your hot melt again to anchor the end of the rope in the hole you drilled before.
The top. The simplest top for this cat furniture is just a wooden cap that keeps the rope from slipping off. You can buy decorative fence post caps at home stores or just cut a piece of wood about 4" x 4.5". Simply nail or screw the cap in place. If you really like your cat you could give him a cat perch by making a wooden box with inside dimensions of 14" x 14" x 3". Screw the box to the post with 3" deck screws and hot melt another piece of carpet in place. If you spray the post with catnip extract your cat will go crazy over his new post.
Depending on just what you have to buy this project can probably be done for $30 or so. You can check http://www.katsrule.com for inspiration and ideas.
Bill of materials.
Scrap carpet, at least 16" x 16". Cut pile is best.
Plywood, 16" x 16".
Two 2x4's between 26" and 30"
Sisal rope, about 150'.
Wooden top cap, 4" x 4.5"
Deck screws, 3"
Bob Hampel has been kept by contented cats for 35 years. He has some standing in the feline community having built cat furniture for it's members. He currently owns http://www.katsrule.com and invites you to browse for serious cat furniture for serious cat lovers.