Home Made Cat Shelves

The cat shelves and raceways that I purchased last year are being put to good use. Tully (former barn cat) spends 1/3 of his day on the raceways. This includes running like a crazy cat between 12am-5am. Considering the shelves are on the opposite side of a shared wall with our bedroom, I thought I should put shelves on the opposite side of the house.  There was always the risk of the shelves not being used as I had hoped, but I had to try something (playing before bedtime wasn’t cutting down on the speed kitteh).

I would have LOVED to purchase more shelves from Catastrophicreations. Unfortunately, the business owner moved out of state which meant $$$ on shipping that previously could have been put towards shelves. This meant I was going to build them myself!

My awesome husband headed to Lowes for supplies so I could get to work in the garage. When coming up with a design, I did the same as with the purchased shelves. I cut strips of paper to represent each shelf and used painters tape to map the studs on the walls.  Most of the time the shelves would anchor into a stud, but a few required drywall anchors.

I put a lot of time & energy into this project, and without my husband’s help the results wouldn’t be this good (or sturdy).

I took some pics at many stages in the project to give you an idea of all that went into the final result. Enjoy!

Here’s the paper shelves and blue painters tape. Some of the tape represents studs that I located using a stud finder, others mark where the brackets should be mounted (others used instead of clear scotch tape).


This was my temporary work station at our kitchen island. I painted the brackets to match the wall paint and shelf paint to help them blend in to their surroundings. The blow dryer is there to make the paint drying go MUCH faster.

Once again, the blow dryer to the rescue! These blocks of wood were used behind the scratching/climbing post so the post wasn’t flat against the wall.

The scratching/climbing post was made of 2 2×4’s. I sanded and painted the ends.

I used sisal rope that other cat owners recommended (no chemical smell). It took over 300 feet of rope!

Here’s the fabric I used for the raceway to go between the two windows. FYI I hate sewing, but that’s WHAT I DO FOR CATS & DOGS.

Yep. If you can’t draw a straight line, you likely can’t sew a straight line either;)

Here’s the raceway mounted and the fabric stapled, glued and screwed! The clamps helped maintain pressure on the wood and fabric while the glue dried. Cats were kept off until the glue was finished drying. Before allowing the cats on the shelves, I did paint touch-ups, including painting screw heads so they blended into the wall & brackets.


Success! Tully using the shelves. We’ll see if he uses them between 12am-5am…



6 thoughts on “Home Made Cat Shelves

  1. Morning,
    I was just looking through your pictures of the kitty race track. AWESOME! Really well done.

    I have been trying to figure out how to change a square, metal, load baring pole into a scratching pole (the cats already have claimed it and therefore the paint is coming off from their claws.I might as well help them and give them a better medium than paint and metal to scratch on) I did find a sisal mat that had Velcro on all four sides. It would have been perfect But wouldn’t be anywhere near as attractive as what you created. Thank god I found you. I have read a lot of the comments concerning the sisal. Like it’s too “hairy” and sheds all the time. Blah, Blah!!! . I am thrilled to see that most everyone had success with the sisal. My questions to you are: Did you have the
    “hairy” sisal rope problem? If so how did you tame that down? How did you start the process? I mean how did you get the first bit of rope started? Did you use a specific glue or a fastener of some type? And did you have to glue the entire cord as you moved it further up and around?? Or was the pole already prepped with glue? Or do you just have to be super diligent that you keep the rope tight at every turn around the pole and not use glue?

    The reason I am asking so many questions is because I’m renting this house. The Landlord is fine with whatever I want to accomplish… especially after she saw the pictures of your room.. My fear is leaving permanent damage to the pole. So I am asking for a little guidance from you. And if I end up buying this house you will hear from me about the race way. 🙂

    Contact me at your earliest convenience,
    Becky Purdy

    • So glad you like how my kitteh project turned out!
      Here’s the rope I used for the scratching post: http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B000W9QHGA/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      I have yet to have a problem with it being too hairy or shedding. This post isn’t the only scratching surface the cats are using, I don’t know how much of a difference that makes.

      Since I was attaching the rope to wood, I used thick & long staples to attach the rope to the wood (plenty of staples especially at the beginning and end of the rope length, I ended up using ~4 rolls of rope).

      No glue, but that would have helped minimize the need of having to maintain as much tension as possible on the rope as it was wound (and using hammer to pound the rope downward to minimize any slack).

      If using any glue, I would be concerned about the chemical smell preventing the cat from using the post. I would make sure the cats don’t have access to the pole for a few days (to make sure the glue is completely dried and let the glue smell decrease so the cat’s first encounter with it won’t be negative).

      If the pole is metal, I would use glue the entire length for security. I would think getting the glued rope OFF the metal pole would be a nightmare if the landlord wants it removed when you move out. I could be wrong, but it might not be worth the added stress during an already stressful time (moving).

      I hope this helps. If you need anything else, let me know.

  2. Hi Tara,

    First off great job on the hammocks! That’s exactly what I’m trying to make and I’m so happy I found your site. Can you explain a bit more on how you attached the fabric to the shelves? And how you knew what length to use? I’m thinking about wrapping the shelves in burlap with a small amount of cotton stuffing on top so my cats have something to grip. Did you find that necessary with your cats or was the bare wood okay? I was thinking it might be more comfortable for lounging as well. OH and did you find the brackets at a general hardware store? I love how unobtrusive they are. Thanks for taking the time to answer and again great job!

    • So sorry your comment got buried and forgotten. I attached the fabric to the shelves by gluing (gorilla glue) and screwing. I first used drill bit, then screwed the boards, unscrewed them, applied glue to top and bottom of fabric, placed fabric between boards, clamped the boards, and then screwed them back together. I did this part with my husband to make sure there was proper tension on the fabric and glue didn’t go everywhere. I left the clamps on for 24hrs to make certain the glue had completely dried (and fortunately the cats were hesitant to climb up and explore on their own).

      Length to use? I marked the wall with painter’s tape to show where the studs were (tried to use studs instead of relying only on heavy duty drywall anchors (don’t get cheap ones that can pull straight out, get the kind that flair out). I then measured the distance I wanted to have fabric. Once the fabric was cut & brackets were attached to the boards (this type doesn’t have much give, so stretching wasn’t a big variable to worry about), my husband and I held the shelves and fabric up on the wall to make sure everything looked ok. One of the stretches of fabric ended up having less tension than I had planned, but it wasn’t the end of the world, so we just went with it.

      One of the cats has no problem with the bare wood, but the other one climbs the rope pole and gets on our indoor veggie grow tent first, then the bare wood. At some point, I’d like to put rope on the shelf next to the rope pole.

      We got out brackets at Lowes and then painted them the same color as the wall. Once the shelves were installed, I then painted the screw heads a few times (dabbing extra paint to fill the screw head hole) along with touching up the shelves that got a little messed up from the clamps.

      Once again, so very sorry for the extremely late response.

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