7 Hacks for Indoor Cat Playgrounds

Turn everyday stuff into cat jungle gyms with these quick tips.

Turn everyday stuff into cat jungle gyms with these quick tips.
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As we all know, it’s essential to your cat’s happiness for her to roam freely and indulge in her curious nature. If you’re an urban dweller, it may be challenging to find the space for your cat to unleash her tiger senses and natural rawrness. Here are a few of our favorite ideas on constructing an interesting and fun indoor playground for your cat while maximizing vertical space. If the last time you handled a power saw was, well, never, don’t despair. These simple cat life hacks are designed for the beginner builder in mind.

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Cat Romp About (wooden planks)
With a few pieces of plywood (sanded down and painted with a coat of non-toxic paint) or wide, rectangular shelves, you can stagger these pieces of wood to provide a delightful vertical maze of sorts for your cat. Have fun changing things up by painting them a different color or placing a small square cubby on some of the planks. Arranging it into the shape of a tree adds complexity and more options for your cat to explore. Just make sure shelves securely bolted and are wide enough for your cat to safely land on.

Ideal for:
Spaces where you have a wall you can spare. If you live in a loft or two-story home, this would be great to put on a wall underneath a staircase or loft area. It’s also a great setup for multiple cats. According to Marilyn Krieger a certified cat behavior consultant at TheCatCoach.com and author of Naughty No More!, vertical territory is a way for cats to show their positions in their changing hierarchy.

“The more cats you have, the more vertical territory you need,” Krieger explains. In addition, vertical spaces help cats stay warm and feel safe.

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Plastic Shelves or Side Table
Stack several of these side by side of varying heights to create an awesome play space for your cat. To build your own, stack several square side tables. Wrap the columns with Sisal rope for a scratching post. For added stimulation, you can drape some fabric along a wall or a sturdy, corrugated piece of cardboard for cat scratching fun.

Ideal for: Homes where you don’t have a lot of empty wall space. Or if you find your cat’s preference for a room in your house changing, this can easily be transported to a different space. Having several of these side by side gives ample room for your cat to explore. You can also easily expand this setup if you have multiple cats.

“The more you expand the vertical space, the less stress for multicat households,” holistic cat behaviorist and celebrity cat consultant Layla Morgan Wilde of CatWisdom101.com.

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Cat Stairwell (bookshelf, storage unit)

Use this storage combination unit to create a stairwell and nook for your cat. Set it against the wall and leave in a few of the bins and rearrange them so your cat can easily climb inside. This will surely keep your cat entertained for hours. If you are growing an indoor garden, make sure they’re non-toxic plants such as African violets, American rubber plants, and spider plants (a full list is available here). You can also place potted cat grass (organic is best) in a secure spot such as a lower tier or against a wall.

Ideal for: Older cats that have might have trouble accessing playgrounds on higher spaces. Its versatility and easy (well, very little, actually) construction will keep you and your cat content.

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Cat Boxes Tower (cardboard boxes)
Stack sturdy cardboard boxes alongside a corner of a room. The boxes don’t have to be the same size, just make sure the larger ones are on the bottom to support the rest of the structure. Depending on how much space you have, you can create a staircase or stack them high. Cut holes on two sides so your cat can pass through the boxes. To up the play factor, place balls or hang catnip pillows inside the boxes. This creates an intriguing playhouse for them to explore and release any pent up energy.

Ideal for: In a corner of the room, where the boxes can easily be stacked up against.

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Cubist Play Space
All you’ll need are a few storage cubes or cardboard storage boxes with one side removed. Stagger the U-shaped units on a wall so that your cat can easily leap from each of the cubes and perch as they like. Or you can purchase a corner shelf that’s securely attached to the wall with brackets. Try placing a few catnip pillows here or there. For a decorative touch, you can sew flower-shaped (or whatever shape you like) catnip pillows with fabric that complements the décor of the room and attach them to a wall.

Ideal for: A corner of a room. 

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Wicker Basket Hideaway (laundry basket)

It’s time for a game of play and snooze with this easy to build wicker basket hideaway.
Take off the top of a few cylindrical- or rectangular-shaped wicker baskets. Arrange the baskets in a vertical fashion so your cat can easily leap from one landing to the next. Place small, comfy pillows inside each basket.

Ideal for: Areas where you can build deep; if you have multiple cats. It’s also great for older cats (just be sure you build low to the ground and it’s near other furniture that makes it easier for the cat to access).

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Kitty Cat Tree (closet organizing system)
Use a closet organizing system such as IKEA’s Stolman line and fasten some flat, sturdy wood planks. You can place pieces of cloth or carpet on top of the planks and secure them with Velcro or double-sided tape. Arrange the planks in a spiraling staircase configuration. For an easier build, you can take one of the poles and wrap Sisal rope around it for a cat-scratching pole. Placing a few wall shelves near it for your cat to perch on is a great easier alternative.

Ideal for: This multi-tiered setup is great for multiple cats and for areas with a lot of windows and natural light. Your cat will love getting a view from high above of all the neighborhood going-ons. 

Creating an exciting and fun indoor playground for your cat doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. We’re sure you’ll come up with some creative ideas of your own. With a bit of resourcefulness, you’ll find discover many ways on making a stimulating indoor environment that will please your cat and up the fun factor in your home.

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