DIYdiy projects

diy project: recycled cardboard kitty pad

by Grace Bonney

in honor of a brand new year, the common ‘material’ for this month’s projects will be a theme: new year’s resolutions! we all make them, we all break them, but you have to try right? this week’s resolution is “waste not, want not”. every few months i purchase my cat a scratch pad from trader joe’s and he loves it…but if you look closely, it’s just a box full of corrugated cardboard! why spend the money when i can use all my old shipping boxes (from december’s online gifting spree) to make him a stylish scratch pad for free? it’s still completely recyclable, but a bit more personalized and made with love. happy crafting! –kate

p.s. i apologize to any non-cat owner’s for the cat-centric nature of this post!

click here for the full project or just click “read more” below.

Recycled Cardboard Kitty Pad

What You’ll Need:

1. cardboard boxes (all sizes, all kinds, at least 5 medium size boxes)
2. masking tape
3. exacto blade and ruler
4. scrap paper, felt, or fabric
5. decorative paper or fabric


1. Choose a height for the pad (mine is 4″)
2. Measure and cut your cardboard in identical width strips. Cut so that the ridges in the cardboard are going horizontally across the strips.
3. Start rolling the cardboard in your hands and bending at each corrugation, the cardboard will start to curl naturally.
4. Tightly wind one strip into a circle and tape closed. This will be the core of your round.
5. Add a new piece and secure with two pieces of masking tape. Choose which side will be the top and make sure that side is always even. It is less important if the other side is slightly uneven, it will still sit properly and the top will look perfect.
6. Keep adding! Tape each piece right next to the end of the last piece and keep the coiling tight.

7. Cut your pretty paper and wrap it around the outside. Tape to close.
8. Trace onto the scrap fabric or paper and cut out the circle. Tape or glue to the bottom so that if you choose to put catnip in it it won’t spill through.
9. Put on the ground, sprinkle on catnip, and watch as hilarious cat antics ensue.

Suggested For You


  • I am in the process of doing it right now-my bed is a mess lol! It is VERY time consuming but an awesome craft! My year old kitten is patiently waiting!!!

  • This is so creative and you dont have to spend at all!! I will make it today for my two cats Naysa and Bruna :)))

  • Thank you! I knew there was something I could do with all of my moving boxes. My cats will enjoy helping make it too!

  • What about making a shape template from a craft letter or some shape at a craft store….or use a picture frame to build around then fill in to make a square/rectangle.

  • i made one…did not come out as pretty as yours but it is what it is. i found my circle was too loose when i taped the cardboard to the end of the last cardboard and used probably more tape than you did!! Ah well waiting to see if the cat likes it and helped save the environment!! :) thanks for the idea

  • Thank you so much for sharing this. I just got a new cat and I am unhappy with prices for toys and scratch pads. This is wonderful and a great way to recycle my old boxes before recycling them .

  • LOVE the idea…..I did try this & it came out ok I guess….My question is, how do you get the bottom to be completely secure so they kitties won’t tear it off? I used tape as the directions suggested but to me it looks too easy to come off. Next time I think I will try it a bit smaller like maybe 2″ tall. AWESOME for the babies

  • What a great idea! We just got a rescue cat yesterday and she is busy scratching the rug – me and the kids were going to rush out and buy a scratch post this morning but now we’ll stay in and make one for our furry friend. Thank you

  • I always looked at pet stuff and said “I make that with stuff at home ” So when I gave my daughter her kitten two weeks ago; She wanted to go out and buy out the stores for her new friend. I had her add up everything she wanted to buy it came too $249.87! She went into sticker stock. 8^o I told her I could make most of the toys and scratching pads for free. With a little brain storming we cut that price down to $35.00! That was for kitty litter, food, liners and pan!

  • I have been looking for these since I moved to Germany and can’t find one (not under 25 EUR!) but I’ve got plenty of boxes stored away so I will definitely make this for my furry felines! Thanks for the tips :-)

  • Oh boy is my boyfriend going to scratch himself!!!!!@@#$$%&&% All this time he has been spending ridiculous amounts of time and money searching for these cardboard scratching refills for his cats. Just think all these years he could have had me slaving away like Rumplestitskin with all the boxes that he has hidden behind the front door from ebay purchases. I think I will just give him the website and tell him to make his own!!

  • We found a custodial supply store that ordered a 6 foot roll of this and they also cut it in any width we want. We chose the 4 ” , so got a bunch of pads. I rolled it a little tighter and secured with packing tape. We then glued burlap patterned trim to it. They last forever. The older cats that cant stretch up and kittens love it. Sprinkled cat nip on.

  • I’m in the middle of making one right now, and intend to make more, my big question is..What was the diameter of your finished project? I’m not quite sure how I’ll tell when it’s done as far as coiling goes.


  • I made an XL one since my boy is quite large. Diameter 20″ × height 5″. The patterned paper was done using leftover scrap paper. Nothing wasted. All I spent on was a roll of double-sided tape and masking tape. All that for less than SGD10. Price of such scratching blocks will easily cost SGD30 to 50 and those are usually too small for my cat. Thanks so much for the idea! My cat loves it and I had a therapeutic time making this. Picture is on my instagram.

  • We used to have a few corrugated scratchers but I couldn’t justify the cost to keep replacing them. I’ll definitely be making one of these for my kitties.

  • Hi! This is a great idea, I just made a scratching pole and was trying to figure out how to secure it, your scratchpad would make a perfect base! So for those who want to add a bit more, make a scratch pole, put it in the middle and then wire the cardboard around. Why not put a toy on the top to make it even more fun? :D

  • We have some purchased cardboard scratch mats and the cats love them. Now I can make my own! Thanks for sharing.

    • You can do the same thing with strips to fill another cardboard box. If your cat likes a bit of a slant, cut the strips in wedges and do the same for the holding box. So many different ways to do this. My way too many beloved cats thank you!!!

  • This is a great idea! I’m worki on ne now. I get food and medicine from chewy. I thought this would be great for the boxes that comes in the mail. I also have the rest of the box for a cat bed. :)

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