How to Make a Cardboard Cat Playhouse

What You'll Need

Johnny Miller

Cats need a home to call their own. After all, they are instinctively inclined to climb to taller heights, scope out the view, and recline for an afternoon nap undisturbed. As pet furniture dominates the market—now, more than ever—there are options for homeowners to purchase tables, ottomans, and cabinetry that will fit seamlessly into your style of décor while providing a posh place for Kitty. So whether she prefers climbing a tree, lounging in the sun on her windowsill perch, or curling up in a hammock that swings from a side table, brands are manufacturing all kinds of cat hideaways. Many of the products and projects offered by these companies are modeled off of those they provide to humans.

Try our do-it-yourself solution: All you need are basic supplies to build a cardboard castle for Kitty. Situated in a corner of your home, it allows her to climb, crawl, and hide whenever she likes. Cats need engaging, interactive, energetic play just as much as dogs; to that end, consider outfitting the interior with a variety of handmade toys and interactive puzzles—like a feather-on-a-wand toy, menswear mice, knotted balls, or felted toys stuffed with catnip. Install the side with a magazine-rack scratcher to dissuade her from clawing at the furniture. It can even provide clever-yet-secret cover for an otherwise unsightly litter box.

Your cat will love to meander through her very own playhouse, which is easily constructed from three cardboard boxes, our printable templates, and a few handy tools in a few simple steps.

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Step 1


The basic tools and materials include size same-size sturdy cardboard boxes (we used 12-by-14-by-18-inch boxes from The Home Depot; use larger boxes for a large cat), our printable door and window templates, a pencil, a bone folder (like this 6-inch one from Paper Source), a ruler (such as Martha Stewart's Gold Metal-Edge Ruler), a retractable razor blade or utility knife (try WORKPRO's Retractable Utility Knife and Self-Retracting Safety Box Cutter), a self-healing mat (such as Martha Stewart's Cutting Mat), and a hot-glue gun and glue sticks (like Elmer's Craft Bond Dual-Temp Glue Gun).

To start, download and print our door and window templates; cut out. Position the templates on one box as desired, using a ruler for placement. Trace templates onto the box with a pencil. Slide a self-healing mat inside the box, and position it behind the windows as you cut out the panes. Position the self-healing mat behind the door; cut the curved top edge, the flat bottom edge, and down the center. Fold open along the straight sides. Repeat tracing and cutting on second box, using only the window template.

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Step 2


Assemble the bottom of the first box (the one with the door): Fold in two opposite flaps, generously coat them with hot glue, then fold the remaining two flaps over them. Hold the flaps in place until the glue is set. On the open end of the box, cut the flap off of each long side. Cut off half of the flap from one short side, as pictured; fold it in. Secure flaps to side of box with a line of hot glue. Hold flaps in place until the glue is set.

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Step 3

Johnny Miller

Begin making the roof: On the top end of the second box, use a ruler and pencil to draw a line from the top center of one short-side flap to one bottom corner; draw a second line from the top center to the other bottom corner. Repeat on the opposite short-side flap. Cut off one long-side flap, as pictured; set aside. Cut along a penciled line to remove a triangle shape from one short-side flap, as pictured; score the second line. Repeat on second short-side flap, cutting along one line and scoring the other.

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Step 4

Johnny Miller

Cut long-side flaps from the bottom of second box. Cut one short-side flap so that when the box is assembled and stacked on the bottom box, the holes will line up. Secure the flaps to the side of the box with a line of hot glue. Hold flaps in place until glue is set. Coat the top of the bottom box with a generous layer of hot glue. Position the bottom of the top box over it, and hold in place until the glue is set. Use one of the reserved short side flaps and coat one side of it with a generous layer of hot glue. Place it, glue-coated-side down, as pictured, on the "floor" of the top box for reinforcement.

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Step 5

Johnny Miller

Cut the roof piece (21 1/4-by-46 inches) from third box with a crease down its center when folded short-end to short-end. To attach roof, fold along the scored lines on the short-side flaps at the top of the house. Glue long flap to the folded triangles from the short sides. Generously coat the folded-in pieces with hot glue, and position the roof over them. Hold in place until the glue is set. (Don't glue the other side of the roof closed. Your cat will enjoy peeking out from under it.)

Then, Kitty is ready to explore her playhouse.

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