Sunday DIY: Work fat cat's tail off

By Greig Morgan

Greig Morgan has an idea that'll help your couch-potato puss get a work-out.

If your pet's turned into a flabby feline, a cat gym could produce a trim, taut and terrific tabby. Photo / Michael Craig
If your pet's turned into a flabby feline, a cat gym could produce a trim, taut and terrific tabby. Photo / Michael Craig

They love to sleep, they love to eat and if you're lucky they may even show you a little affection. But what if your cat needs more in the way of fun and activity? If you think your cat is crying out for some behavioural enrichment, construct this mighty fine cat gym. Purr-fect.

Step 1
Measure and cut to size a piece of medium-density fibreboard (MDF) for a bottom, (mine was 600mmx350mm), then cut two lengths of 45x20mm for the front and back and two sides, fixed from the bottom up, flush with outer edges.

Step 2
Cut five dowels to length, four for the posts to hold the upper platform in the corners and about halfway along the bottom piece, and the fifth in a corner for a play toy (mine was 400mm long) and fixed from the underside with screws. Neatly wrap the sisal rope around the dowel, starting from the bottom, with a clout-head nail to hold in place when starting and finishing, and cut to remove the remaining rope.

Step 2, wrap rope around post. Photo / Michael Craig
Step 2, wrap rope around post. Photo / Michael Craig

Step 3
Measure and cut a piece of MDF for the upper platform (I cut mine 400mm long x350mm wide), remove sharp edges and corners with sandpaper for the upholstery. Cut your fabric to the size of the platform, allowing 45mm extra fabric to fold over the edges and underside.

Step 3, upholster lid. Photo / Michael Craig
Step 3, upholster lid. Photo / Michael Craig

On the platform's underside, make a pencil line 30mm in, then place the cut fabric face down with the platform sitting on top evenly. Brush a contact adhesive glue over the back of the fabric overhang and to the pencil line, wait until glue is tacky before sticking the fabric to the platform surfaces. Starting at one corner, place the fabric, running your hand along and down the sides. Repeat on the other sides. Keeping the scissors flat on the top edge, cut off the corners to give a 45-degree join.

Step 4
Measure and cut your MDF to create a box shape in proportional size to your cat's gym. I cut the front back and side pieces 260mmx260mm and made the roof about 40mm bigger for the overhang. With a jig saw cut out a half round shape for an entrance, and with the cut-out piece as a template trace and cut a second piece for steps. With the steps, mark from the corner point 70mm, then use a hole saw to suit dowel size, drill the holes, slide first step in place (should be tight fit) about one third up, then repeat the steps on wrapping rope around the dowel, on both sides of step before fixing the top step in place creating a spiral effect.

Step 5
Drill shapes in a variety of sizes to create windows and finish the assembly of the box hut by fixing the sides flush with the front and back pieces. Place and fix the platform with screws into the dowel, before fixing the hut in place from the underside of the platform with evenly spaced screws.

Use hole saw to cut play holes. Photo / Michael Craig
Use hole saw to cut play holes. Photo / Michael Craig

Step 6
Cut a piece of 45x20mm to length and upholster with fabric, fix on top of the dowel to allow swivelling, creating a crane effect with overhang at the back, and attach a play toy or ball to hang down. Get a comfy pillow and your cats will love you for it.

- NZ Herald

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