DIY: Make a Funky Cat House From a Boring Cardboard Box


Cats love boxes. Well, most cats love boxes. So here’s a little idea that I came up with using a cardboard box that had been standing around for many months. It was covered in a piece of fabric, and the top of it — not the inside — my boy Spider used as a bed. So I turned it into something much more fun and attractive to look at.

Spider on top of original box
Spider using the top of the original box as a bed


Cost of Materials: This costs about $15, but it could cost nothing depending on what you have around your house. If you find unused tins of paint, a pair of scissors, some liquid ink pens, a Stanley knife, glue, and little fake gemstones, you’re already halfway there without having spent a cent.

Time to finish: 20 to 40 minutes (but it’s best to let the paint to dry overnight).

Tools & Materials

An old box

Paint: You can use either metal/wood paint or emulsion (the former will last longer though and will withstand more lunatic cats); it will be safe for your cat once it has dried.

An old piece of carpet: You can use this or buy a cheap floor mat or rug from places such as Walmart or IKEA for around $1.50.

A medium-width paintbrush
Stanley knife
Epoxy glue and superglue
Pen or pencil

Liquid ink pens
Fake gemstones / rhinestones of various sizes
A cushion for the inside of the box (optional)
Printer and plain paper

The work

Step 1 — Paint the box: Paint the cardboard box in your chosen color and leave to dry fully overnight. I used a fire-engine red left over from painting my front door. I also cut the bottom out of the box (for no real reason!) but you can, of course, leave this to add a bit more sturdiness to the whole thing, which might help if your cat loves to play rough.

Here’s the original box:

Original Box

Here’s the box after painting:

Painted Box

Step 2 — Make the door: Go to Google image search and type in the words “cat shape silhouette,” “cat head shape,” or whatever shape you would like to cut into the box. (For those of you with good drawing skills, you can create your own kitty silhouettes.) Print your chosen images in the size that you like, and cut out the shapes with scissors. Lay those shapes onto the box and pencil around them, then cut them out of the box carefully using the Stanley knife.

The pieces you just cut out can be used as stencils to draw around, and then fill the shapes in with paint (see the black cat head and paw print in the pictures below). Feel free to use your imagination! And don’t throw the cutouts away just yet — you will need them in Step 6.

Here’s a front-and-side view:

Cat House

Here the back and side are visible:

Cat House

Here’s the front view, head-on:

Cat House

Step 3 — Make it fuzzy: Use epoxy glue to apply carpeting, after you cut it to shape with scissors, to the top of the box. In the photo below you also see an optional cushion that I bought to go inside the box, but I actually ended up using that as a neck rest for myself.

Box with carpeting and cushion

Step 4 — Make it sparkly: Stick on rhinestones / fake jewels with superglue to prettify the box to your heart’s content, using a toothpick (or something similarly pointy) to help stick on the smaller stones.

Box 4

Step 5 — Add cattitude: With your liquid ink pens, draw a face onto the cat head (I used fake gems for the eyes and nose), or other “catty” phrases or symbols. You could also write your cats’ names onto the box in nice lettering or spell them out in rhinestones. The only limit is your imagination.

Box 5

The vocabulary and symbology of being a cat:

Box 6

Step 6 — Add more cat silhouettes: I thought it would be a shame to throw away the cutouts (see Step 2), so I painted them black and stuck them to the other, yet empty, side of the box with epoxy glue.

Box 7

Step 7 — Add real cats!

Here Ruby waits inside to ambush Spider:

Ruby and Spider with box

Here Spider peeks through the back of the box:

Spider peeks through the back of box

Spider demonstrates that he likes to, um, think outside the box:

Spider on top of new box

Ruby’s done — it’s lights out:

Ruby sleeping on top of box

I would love to see your creations, so please post your pictures and stories in the comments.

About the Author: Barbarella Buchner — Ailurophile. Geeky Goth Girl. Ex-Musician Singer/Songwriter. Photographer. Web Designer. Fibromyalgia + RA Sufferer. And totally mad. She originally hails from Hannover (Germany), then moved to London, and since 2004 has lived on the tropical island of Lanzarote, together with her tabby twins Lugosi & Spider, and ginger queen Ruby Akasha. Apart from being an avid hobby — and sometimes even paid. — photographer, she works as a freelance web and graphic designer and occasional Catster contributor.

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