Home-made Environmental Enrichment for the Indoor Kitty

by Crisia Tabacaru

As a loving cat parent, no doubt you’re already providing food, water and a warm home for your feline friend, but, just like you need more than the necessities to keep you at your best, your kitties will be happier and healthier if you understand their instincts, behaviours, and what will make them feel safe and content.

Let’s look at it from a biological perspective: Cats come from wild species that are both predators and prey, and many of their instinctive behaviours stem from this history. For instance, you’ve likely noticed that your kitties like to be high up, which helps them to both observe and feel safe. Providing such spaces in your home means that you’ll have a happier, less aggressive kitty, with fewer behavioural issues in general. For multiple cat households, increased vertical space will also help with stress related to territorial issues.

Many cat parents meet these needs with store-bought cat trees, hammocks or cat walks. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a cat tree, but a home-made one can be a very fulfilling project for both you and your kitty, not to mention a money-saver. In fact, one of our Zoe’s adopters built one for their kitty Neelix (Zoe’s alum, formerly Tator) and he loves his new cat tree!

This is one of my favourites. The instructions are very clear and it won’t cramp your style either. Seriously, check out those gorgeous branches!


Image courtesy of By Brittany Goldwyn


You can also take the scratching post approach and provide a climbing workout like this easy-to-follow project. Another way to give your cat observation powers is to provide cat shelves like this crafty cat owner did. The only limit is your imagination! (And maybe your handiness with tools…)

The next need to consider is mental stimulation and engagement. Boredom from a lack of environmental enrichment is often accompanied by stress and “bad” behaviours like urine marking and aggression. Increasing complexity in their environment is a way to engage cats and provide much needed mental stimulation. One way to do this is to create physical structures with attached toys and other complexities for them to play with, sleep on, scratch, and explore. This one uses readily available Ikea furniture and is attractive to boot.

Image courtesy of By Brittany Goldwyn

Another way is to provide a challenge in the form of toy or treat puzzles like these. Heck, have fun with it and make them a climbing wall!

Get inspired by these DIYs and let your imagination run wild!

Bonus: Geeky DIY cat projects

These projects are just so deliciously geeky, that I couldn’t resist!

DIY scratching posts

by Tawyna and Amanda, professional cat ladies

Every kitty loves to flex those toe pads and mark their territory by scratching their favorite scratch posts. These favorite posts can come in the form of corrugated cardboard, a stand-alone carpet post, a sisal door hanger, or your vintage couch. As cat owners, we’ve noticed one thing that all scratch posts have in common… they’re expensive!

So here’s a little information on how to create your OWN scratch post… from scratch! (pun intended.)

What do you need?

That will depend on how crafty you want to get. Popular materials are sisal rope and carpet. And more sisal rope. Check out the photos below: an Ikea cube with a bit if sisal rope glued on, a folded length of cardboard with carpeting, a couple of wine crates with sisal rope. (If you don’t already know, sisal rope is a cheap natural twine you can get at Home Depot You can glue it in place, or tack it with small nails). It’s just that easy.


We like this quick carpeted tunnel. And there’s a how-to video!


marthastewartMartha Stewart makes it look easy by literally screwing a branch onto a board. Dang!

Of course, you can also build your own completely average, store-bought-looking cat post if you have a table saw. You will need some sturdy materials for the base and post, such as plywood, particle board, or PVC pipe. Depending on how many tiers you want your post to have, you’ll need one piece of wood or board for the base, and at least one chunk of wood or pipe for the tower. Hit up your local hardware, DIY, or home re-useables store for good material. For the carpeted part, check out your local carpet store for scraps and roll ends. You’ll also need a drill, carpet knife, and staple gun, as well as wood screws, heavy duty staples, and/or wood glue. Look here, here, here, and here for ideas, plans, and step-by-step guides!


So go forth, and wrap all manner of objects in sisal rope! Make your cats happy! And send us your photos: we’d love to see (and share) what our readers come up with!