DIY Cardboard Cat Scratcher You Can Make Right Now

Scratching pads for your cat are easy to make!
Tayler Tayler (75)
30 minutes

If there's anything cat owners can agree upon, it's this: cats scratch. Whether they scratch the couch, a carefully placed scratching pad, cardboard scratcher, or you, heaven forbid, the act of casual scratching is a common practice amongst your favorite felines.

You can use old cardboard for this craft!

What really sucks about this habit is that cats can sometimes turn their attention, and their claws, to furniture. And, while scratching pads aren't the most expensive thing to purchase, dropping 15$-20$ on a scratching post can be an unwelcome additional cost, especially when you likely have the perfect materials laying around to DIY the perfect cardboard scratching pad. (And you know we love our DIY hobbies and crafts!)

The best part about this? You can use old cardboard for this craft. Which is perfect for all those Amazon Prime orders you've been making.

Eco-friendly and an easy way to repurpose any old cardboard you have laying around, here's how to make the best cardboard cat scratcher—from scratch!

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Cat on scratching pad.

Before we dive into how to create this easy cardboard scratching pad, let's answer this question: why do cats scratch? If you're not interested in learning this, feel free to skip down to step 2 where the instructions begin!

For starters, cats scratch things for many reasons, many of which are reminiscent of their time living in the wild, but the main reasons are: - To remove the dead outer layers of their claws, - To mark their territory visually, - To mark their territory with the scent from glands in their paws and, - To stretch their bodies and flex their paws.

Scratching is normal and instinctual for your cat.

As I mentioned previously, scratching inherently isn't a bad habit for your cat, but when they turn their attention to your couch, this habit becomes bad. Since scratching is instinctual, you won't have much luck training them to not scratch. This brings us to the great distraction: cardboard cat scratchers (aka cat scratching pads).

Let's jump into how you can make the best cat scratching pad ever!

Cat in the box.

In truth, you can make your scratching pad from anything—spare carpet, wood, fabric, or cardboard. It really depends on your cat's preference, but a material that is widely accepted by most felines is cardboard.

Remember those Amazon Prime packages you've been ordering and likely collecting during this pandemic? Grab them and deconstruct them, so they lay flat. You're going to cut them into thinner strips in the next step.

Cardboard close up.

Next, you're going to want to figure out the height of your pad. The height of your pad determines the width that you're going to cut your cardboard strips into from the deconstructed cardboard box.

4" or 5" is a good height!

Cats like to perch on things, so giving your pad a little lift is a good move. Your pad's height is entirely up to you; however, it is much easier to work with wider strips of cardboard.

4" or 5" is a good height!

Cardboard strips.

Whatever width you decide on, measure the cardboard and, using scissors, carefully begin cutting your cardboard.

You're going to want to cut across the ridges so that the ridges go horizontally across the strips. Cats consider this texture enticing and will want to stretch on this.

Try to cut your cardboard into longer pieces, but don't worry if your box is small. You can easily use the shorter pieces on the inside of your scratching pad.

Rolled cardboard.

Alright, now that you have a stack of 4" or 5" wide strips of cardboard, you're ready to start assembling your pad! Here's a breakdown of the steps:

  • Step 1: Start rolling a shorter cardboard strip and continue until you reach the end.
  • Step 2: Secure the rolled piece with tape.
  • Step 3: Using another piece of tape, secure the edge of a new unrolled piece of cardboard against the freshly rolled one and continue rolling.
  • Step 4: Keep adding cardboard, repeating steps 1 through 3. Try to keep one edge of your pad even so your cat can scratch an even surface.
  • Step 5: When you've used your final piece of cardboard, secure the end with a piece of tape.

Viola! You have a scratching pad.

Cardboard roll.

This step is completely optional.

Now that you have a finished scratching pad (congrats, by the way) you can wrap the edges of your pad in either colorful construction paper, a piece of scrap fabric (cut to the width of the cardboard strips and cut long enough to circle the pad once), or another spare material lying around.

This will conceal the outer cardboard appearance but it isn't necessary. If you want to follow through with this step, using glue to attach your material to the cardboard!

You can also use catnip to persuade your cat to use the pad, but make sure you bolster the bottom by gluing a sheet of paper to the underside of the pad. Not only does this keep catnip inside the pad but it minimizes the mess.

There you go! You've just made the best cat scratching pad on a budget.

Still worried about the length of your cat's claws despite the pad?

Check out my guide on trimming a cat's claws where I walk through the easy steps on keeping your cat's paws safe!

Cats love them. We hate them on them.
Tayler Tayler (75)

My cats, Val and Halla, love jumping on the counters. They love jumping atop them and spreading their little litter infested paws all over the surfaces where I make breakfast, brew tea, meal prep.