How to Repurpose Old Cardboard Boxes into Eco-Friendly Cat Scratching Posts

How to Repurpose Old Cardboard Boxes into Eco-Friendly Cat Scratching Posts


As a cat owner, keeping my furry friends happy and active is a top priority. However, store-bought cat scratching posts can be expensive and aren’t always environmentally friendly. I realized I could repurpose all the old cardboard boxes I had lying around the house to create customized scratching posts for my cats. This allowed me to provide my cats with durable and engaging scratching surfaces while being kind to the planet.

In this article, I’ll share everything I’ve learned about transforming cardboard into DIY cat scratching posts. Whether you want to make a simple scratcher or an elaborate multi-level climbing post, repurposing cardboard is an easy, affordable, and eco-friendly option. Let’s dive in!

Why Cardboard Makes Great Cat Scratching Material

Cardboard is an ideal material for DIY cat scratchers for several reasons:


The corrugated construction of cardboard boxes makes them sturdy enough to stand up to cat claws. I’ve found my cardboard scratching posts easily last 6-12 months with two regular users.

Cat-Appealing Texture

The grooved texture of corrugated cardboard offers an inviting scratching surface that appeals to my cats’ natural instincts. They love to dig their claws into the grooves.


Cardboard boxes are usually free or cheap to acquire. Ask neighbors for their old amazon/moving boxes. You can also often find clean boxes behind stores for free.


With a little creativity, cardboard boxes can be transformed into scratching posts of any shape or size to fit my cats’ preferences.


Finding a new use for old cardboard keeps it out of landfills. It’s a sustainable way to meet my cats’ needs.

Cardboard Box Preparation

Before crafting the scratching post, I take a few steps to prep the cardboard boxes. This helps maximize durability.

  • Break down boxes along their seams and flatten them out. Remove any plastic reinforcers.

  • Cut boxes to the desired size and shape for the project. Square, rectangular, and triangular pieces work well.

  • Clean cardboard thoroughly with soap and water to remove dust, grease, etc. Let dry completely.

  • Lightly sand the scratching surfaces to expose more of the corrugated texture. My cats like this.

  • Consider sealing all surfaces with non-toxic glue, polyurethane, or varnish. This can extend the life of the scratcher.

With freshly cleaned and prepped cardboard in hand, it’s time to create!

Basic Free-Standing Scratcher

For a quick and easy option, a simple free-standing scratcher can be made from a single cardboard box.

Materials Needed

  • One large cardboard box, at least 16 x 16 inches.

  • Utility knife.

  • Sandpaper (optional).

  • Non-toxic sealer (optional).


  1. Cut the large box down to size. Aim for a panel roughly 16 x 16 inches.

  2. On the side to face your cat, lightly sand the surface to maximize texture.

  3. Seal this top surface and the sides with non-toxic sealant for extra durability (optional). Let dry fully.

  4. Slide the panel upright and let your cat start scratching!

For extra stability, place a heavy object like a book on the panel bottom or secure with double-sided tape. Refresh the sealer or replace the cardboard as needed. This simple scratcher costs nothing and can be made in minutes!

Corrugated Scratching Loaf

If you have lots of smaller cardboard boxes and pieces on hand, a cardboard “loaf” offers more scratch space and makes full use of corrugated scraps.

Materials Needed

  • Assorted corrugated cardboard scraps, ideally 12 x 12 inches or larger.

  • Utility knife.

  • Glue.

  • Sisal rope.

  • Sandpaper (optional).


  1. Break down small boxes into flat panels. Cut into squares roughly 12 inches wide.

  2. Layer and stack the cardboard pieces into a “loaf” shape. Stagger seams for stability.

  3. Apply non-toxic glue between layers. Let dry fully before continuing stacking.

  4. Wrap strips of sisal rope around the loaf shape to further unify it.

  5. Sand and seal the top loaves for premium scratching texture.

The loaf shape gives cats several corrugated surfaces to scratch in a compact vertical form. Feel free to get creative with the size and design!

Multi-Level Cat Scratching Post

For the ultimate in engagement and appeal, you can construct a tall, multi-level cat scratching post using larger appliance-style boxes. Think fridge or washing machine boxes.

Materials Needed

  • Two large appliance boxes of similar size.

  • Utility knife.

  • Heavy duty glue.

  • Sisal rope.

  • Non-toxic sealer.

  • Soft carpet or fabric (for platform levels).


  1. Cut side panels and flaps from both boxes. Leave at least 2 bottom flaps on each box intact.

  2. On box 1, cut an entrance hole about 10 inches across in one side. Save the cutout.

  3. Using heavy duty glue, attach the two boxes bottom-to-bottom with intact flaps aligned. Let dry completely.

  4. Apply rope around the exterior in a zig-zag or spiral pattern. Twist and wrap to further adhere boxes.

  5. Sand and seal the tops and sides of both boxes. These are scratching surfaces.

  6. Use the side cutout from step 2 to create a small platform half-way up. Cover this in carpet for lounging.

  7. Add a flat carpeted surface on top for a second level.

With two sturdy boxes supporting each other and multiple scratching surfaces, this post offers cats a vertical world of play and stimulation. Let your imagination run wild when upcycling cardboard into cat furniture masterpieces!

Tips for Getting Cats to Use Their New Scratching Posts

When introducing any new scratching post, keep these tips in mind to entice use:

  • Place in a heavily trafficked area so cats pass by it frequently.

  • Start with catnip sprinkled on the scratchable surfaces to spike feline interest. Reapply monthly.

  • For upright posts, make sure it’s tall enough for a full stretch and sturdy enough not to wobble.

  • Use treats or praise to reward your cat when they interact with the post.

Be patient. It may take weeks for your cardboard scratching post to become your cats’ favorite place to dig those claws. Proper positioning and encouragement will speed adoption.

Final Thoughts

Constructing cat scratching posts from old cardboard boxes is a budget-friendly way to keep cats satisfied and furniture protected. Customize corrugated cardboard pieces to create scratchers of any shape and style. With a little diy effort, you can keep cardboard out of landfills and give your cats a unique handmade scratching oasis. Both your cats and the planet will thank you!

Let me know if you try any of these cardboard scratching post projects. I’d love to see what creative designs you and your felines come up with. Happy scratching!