The COVID-19 pandemic is still in full swing. With the potential for a vaccine around the corner, things will get better soon, but the holidays, this year, are going to be different. Different how? Online shopping is about to hit its peak with Canada Post shipping 2.1 million parcels on the last day of November. 2.1 million parcels in a single day, before the last-minute rush for the holidays, and they expect many more over the coming days.
All those packages come in boxes of all shapes and sizes. You could recycle them, but why not instead use them to build an entertainment centre for your cat? Cats love to explore news places, boxes, and any sort of enclosed space. By putting together a cat castle, your cats can get their explore on, have a safe place to hang out, and a find new spots to rub their scent all over. Plus, you get the equivalent of a homemade cat tree, a fun project to do with the family, and all those boxes get put to use.
Step #1 – Buy a glue gun
In this scenario, tape is for the weak. Glue guns are like cardboard welding torches and will be your best friend through this project.
Step #2 – Start with a Big Box
Your starting point for this project should be the biggest box you have at home. Having a big enclosed entrance is attractive to cats and will lure them inside. Once inside, they can move around and hang out in other ‘rooms’. After choosing your first box, it’s now time to re-enforce it. Fold the flaps of the box as intended, not one under the other and once they are together, tape them together with a single piece of tape (as tight as possible). With everything tight, run a bead of hot glue along all the seams. After the glue dries, pull the piece of tape off and glue the space where it was. This will turn your box into a stronghold, and one that can support more weight.
Step #3 – Plan Additional Rooms
With your first box selected, look at the remaining boxes in your home and see where they might fit the cat castle in the best configuration. Things to keep in mind here include entrances to rooms and how much space they will need in addition to how the weight of your cat or cats will affect the structure. Once you have your box configuration planned out, it’s time to look at strength.
Step #4 – Load-bearing Cardboard
Cats come in all shapes and sizes, and a chonky cat is not only going to need bigger doorways, but also more load-bearing cardboard. It would be scary for your cat if they jumped into a room on your castle and it broke right off. Using the re-enforcing technique mentioned in step #2, make sure all your boxes have their seams sealed with hot glue and you are stacking them in a way that goes from largest to smallest. Small boxes should not be used to support large ones unless their collective surface area is larger than the box above them (think: pyramids).
Step #5 – Cut Out the Doors
Before gluing the boxes together, make sure your doors are measured out and cut. If you miss this step, you’ll have to break the boxes off again and cut out the doors or cut an access hole into the boxes and crudely cut out a door without being able to see properly. Special note to those with big cats – double- check the size of your cat by measuring them when standing. It is easy to make your doors too small and end up with a cat castle the cats don’t want to use.
Step #6 – Start Gluing… Again
Now that your boxes are sealed up, doors are cut, and you’ve predetermined their places on the castle, it is time to fuse them together. Using the hot glue gun, once more, place some temporary tape between the castle and whichever is the next box to temporarily join it. With the boxes together, run a bead of hot glue along all the touching edges. Once the glue dries, it should be rigid enough not to move freely anymore.
Step #7 – Add Activities
Cats love interacting with different materials and your cat castle should have at least a few different places they can play in. Some good examples of activities would be:
- Fill one of the rooms with shredded newspaper.
- Fill one of the rooms with cat toys.
- Leave one or two rolls of toilet paper in the castle so they can attack, shred and roll around with them.
- Add a small piece of carpet to one of the stronger walls. You can staple it into place, but make sure you put some hot glue over the staples – so your cats won’t catch on them.
- Make a catnip room by sprinkling cat nip all over
- If you really want to step it up, and can afford it, place an old phone or tablet in a room with video of nature or cat games so they will run in and tap away.
Step #8 – Modge Podge and Carpet Samples
This step is the most fun. Decorating the cat castle! This is where you can step things up from a simple cardboard cat castle to one that looks great and also feels great for your cats. Try to get your hands on some carpet samples or surplus carpet trimmings. These fit great in the castle and switch up the surface texture for your cats – something they will appreciate. Once you’ve decided on your floors, grab some old magazines, newspapers, or calendars, and start cutting out images and patterns to modge podge to the castle exterior. Have some fun with it and cut out letters, people, faces, things, vehicles. Everything!
Step #9 – Watch Your Cats Enjoy Their New Place!
After all your hard work, it’s now time to get the cats interested! If the castle is tall enough, place it by a window and the cats will jump on it to see outside. You can also put treats or cat nip in it to pull them toward it with their sense of smell. In many cases, unless you have kittens, all you need to do is wait. Older cats can be more careful and will be skeptical of the new structure. With time they will explore it and get used to it.