DIY Catification: Industrial Pipe Decor Cat Climbing Wall

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This project first appeared in the September/October 2022 issue of Catster Magazine.

I recently designed this fun Catification project for my friend Bogi Lateiner after she added a mama cat and three kittens to her household that already had two cats. The kittens needed some vertical space where they could run and play, giving the older cats a little extra room, so we transformed this wall into a cat climbing paradise.

Bogi works in the automotive industry, appearing on TV shows on the Motortrend Network and organizing projects that help empower women in the industry. Her aesthetic is what you could call industrial chic, so we decided to create the climbing wall with pipe decor fixtures and dark stained wood shelves.

I created a 3D model of the design, which I submitted to Luna for approval.

We then marked out the design on the wall with blue painter’s tape, a very useful Catification tool. I always have a roll or two on hand.

We bought wood boards, cut them to size, sanded them, applied a dark stain, and finished with three coats of water based satin polyurethane. This protects the wood and makes it much easier to cleanup messes, which are inevitable with kittens.

We used metal pipes and fittings to create the shelf brackets and supports, which coordinates nicely with the dark stained wood, resulting in a rustic/industrial but modern look. This configuration uses 1.5″, 4″, 5″ and 12″ pipe lengths with 90-degree elbow, tee, and flange connectors. There are lots of pipe decor suppliers online that sell parts specifically for building furniture, just make sure that all your parts work together. I really like the Pipe Decor® Store and Home TZH, both on Amazon.

IMPORTANT: You’ll need to secure all the joints with thread locking fluid, a special adhesive that secures metal fasteners. This will prevent the joints from becoming loose, which could make the shelves unstable and unsafe for cats to climb on. I used Permatex Threadlocker. Loctite is another brand. Get the red, which is extra strength.

Another important safety feature for building cat shelves is to add a non-slip surface to the top of the shelves. This will help keep cats from slipping as they run up and down the shelves. We used these extra thick, peel-and-stick carpet squares in gunmetal. Simply cut them to size with scissors, peel off the backing, and stick in place. Easy to replace when they become worn.

You can build all kinds of things with the pipes and fittings, so I added a wall-mounted sisal scratcher and a fabric hammock below one of the lower shelves. For the scratcher, I used an 18″ piece of lodge pole that’s about 3″ in diameter, wrapped with 3/8″ sisal rope, secured with hot glue. Short pipe pieces, 90-degree elbow connectors, and flanges attach the post to the wall, keeping with the same aesthetic.

The fabric hammock attaches with Velcro so it’s easy to remove for cleaning. Make sure to position the hammock so cats have easy access to jump in and out.

This was a really fun project that pushed me to use materials I had never worked with before and I love the results! Please send in photos of your latest Catification projects, I’d love to see them!

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