©Photography by Kate Benjamin

DIY Climbing Wall Just for Cats

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One of the best things about Catification is that it can be totally customized to fit any style. You can give your cats the indoor enrichment they need without worrying about how your home looks. In fact, with a little creativity, you can make something that’s totally unique and sure to be a conversation piece when guests visit.

Go for industrial chic with pipe décor

©Photography by Kate Benjamin

For this project, we used pipe décor, a style of home décor featuring black iron pipes and fittings, giving it an industrial-chic look. Pipe décor is generally used to make furniture like tables, shelves, lamps and more, but here we’re repurposing it to create a unique cat climbing wall.

The pipes and fittings are all interchangeable, allowing you to build almost anything you can imagine, kind of like an Erector Set. Iron pipe is available in various lengths, ranging from 1 inch to 72 inches long, and ½ inch, ¾ inch and 1 inch diameter. We used ½ inch diameter pipe and fittings for this project.

You can choose from lots of different fittings, depending on how you want to connect the pipes. Elbows, tees, four-way, five-way and six-way connectors are all available, and flanges are used to connect pipes to walls or other surfaces, like shelves. When properly assembled, pipe décor is very sturdy and attractive — perfect for Catification.

Pipes and connectors are available at home improvement stores in the plumbing section, but for a project like this you’ll probably want to look online for parts that are made for home décor. The plumbing hardware is usually much more expensive, and it has writing stamped on the side. Parts made specifically for home décor are less expensive and ready to use, although they may require a little cleaning to remove any grease that’s left over from the manufacturing process. If they aren’t already, it’s a good idea to seal pipes and fittings to prevent rusting. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning and sealing.

Design the climbing wall

©Photography by Kate Benjamin

This is the part where you can get really creative and design something that’s perfect for your home and your cats. The pipes and fittings allow you to build individual shelves or more elaborate frames that connect multiple shelves. Make sure to create a pathway that’s easy for cats to navigate, keeping the distance between shelves around 10 to 12 inches and trying to avoid creating any dead ends. In this design, cats can go up or down on either side.

For this design, I used several single shelves and a couple of connected shelf sets for variety and visual appeal. I also added a wall-mounted scratcher, a hammock under one of the lower shelves and a designated spot on the floor for two automatic feeders.

For this project, we used the following ½ inch diameter parts:

  • 1 1/2-inch, 4-inch, 5-inch and 12-inch pipes
  • 90-degree elbow connectors
  • Tee connectors
  • Flanges

Be cautious when purchasing pipe and pipe fittings from different manufacturers. In theory, they should all fit together if they are all the same diameter (½ inch, ¾ inch or 1 inch), but I’ve found that some pieces are not compatible with others. Make sure you can return the pieces if they don’t all work together.

TIP: Use blue painters’ tape to mark the size and location of shelves on the wall, helping you visualize the design.

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