Thursday, February 27, 2014

Climbing Kitten, IKEA Hack

I'm not fond of carpet-covered cat towers so I thought I'd go the IKEA hack route and build something that was cool and doesn't scream cat lady. Now, I know building your own cat tower screams "cat lady," so I haven't succeeded in that endeavor. But if you're here, you either know me or you googled "build your own cat post" or "build your own cat climb" or "cat lady," so let's get to the how to of this post.

Here's the finished product, a rope-covered pole that goes all the way to the ceiling, along with two platforms which she uses to hop down from the bookshelf. Most of the time. Other times, she goes down the pole in reverse, deranged monkey-style. (Skip to the end if you just want watch a cat video. You know that's why you're here.)

In this photo, my three-month-old kitten inspects the IKEA materials necessary for construction. I know, why did I wait so long to post a photo with a cat in it, stupid, stupid, stupid. (You've skipped this part and gone straight to the cat video, who am I kidding?)

So that white thing is a Stoleman post which is half of what you need to build a floating shelf. But much like a carpet-coated cat tower, I do not want a floating shelf. All the little bits and pieces on the floor come with the post. The three black squares are floating shelves. Okay, I know I just said I do not want a floating shelf, but these are different floating shelves because they are going to become floating platforms, which the kitten will use to get down once she's gotten to the top. Such is the plan. I just met her, so we'll see how this goes. And the doormat up top, that I'm going to cut to the size of the shelves and then nail them on so that she doesn't slide off of the shelves when she jumps down. So it's sort of like covering something in beige carpet, yet it's not because it's a scratchy, grey doormat, which is SO much better than a beige carpet. (Note the beige carpet in my apartment, I'm not much for carpet-coated floors but I don't own the joint, and you know, I'm just trying to keep the beige motif from taking over the place.)

Next up, the rope.

Here we see the pole pre-rope wrap. I bought three 50ft coils of sisal rope at a hardware store, which I then had to teach myself to weave together. A couple of way-too-quick-at-it Irish fisherman videos later and I found a guy who shows you how to do it by using color coded tape.

Here comes one of the other pieces of equipment you need from IKEA: brackets. The brackets are sold separately and are meant for the whole floating bookshelf apparatus, but I used them to tie the rope at the bottom and the top of the pole. Don't make the mistake I did, which was to buy two packs of these. They come in packs of four, you only need two, so you'll have two extra left over. I of course, had six left over, and had to return to IKEA for the necessary $10 refund.

So you put the bracket on the bottom, tie the rope to it, then begin coiling up the post. Every fifth turn I hammered the rope down, to make sure that it was tight, then I applied glue from a gun. I've never used a glue gun so every 10th turn, I burned myself. Which, if you've never burned yourself with hot glue, is a delayed sensation. Every time I fooled myself into thinking that I had just gotten a rope splinter but then the pain would increase, prompting me to peel the glue off of my finger. Not unsurvivable but probably the most annoying part of this, besides the amount of rope that'll end up on your (hopefully not) beige carpet. Getting to the top takes, depending on your snack-break-to-cat participation ratio, 1-2 hours.

Here's the finished product once you've got the bracket on top.

Let's have a moment of appreciation for the most time-consuming portion of this project.

Now, I waited to adhere the top portion of the rope because I needed to extend the telescoping pole and the glue would have made that a bit difficult. You'll note that I placed it next to a bookshelf, this is so that she can prowl around on top and survey her vast kingdom that is a one bedroom apartment.

Next up, the floating shelf with nailed on doormat.

I placed one of these flush with the bookshelf so that she would have room to climb the pole and a platform to bridge the gap. The hanging of these floating shelves was harder than putting the pole up. The screws were not provided by IKEA so I rummaged around for screws that would match, then danced back and forth as to how far in or out they needed to be from the wall in order to catch the bracket in the back of the shelf. Once this was finally achieved I placed the pole flush with the forward edge of the shelf.

There was a little difficulty with the telescoping pole, in that it flew back inside, launching the top across the room. Which reminds me of the time in high school when I was bench pressing by myself in the basement and I was too fatigued to do another rep, so I decided to raise one side of the bar and let the weights fall off, not thinking about what would happen to the other side of the bar. Which rapidly flung the unweighted side up into the air, tossing the weights onto the ground. This telescoping pole was fast like that, albeit a little less dangerous. Although, I was standing on a step stool and we all know that falling off of a step stool is one of the leading causes of death in cat ladies.

By utilizing "the internet" I found other people having the same problems with their poles. (Which, surprisingly, did not send me directly to a Tosh.0's Top 10 Stripper Pole Fails Montage.) You basically do some jiggling and some turning and the pole will finally catch back into place. (I know, I know, moving on.) Then put the pole back into position and screw it upwards until it's flush-ish with the ceiling. I then put two screws in to keep it from being knocked down, you can use three, but two seems enough. From here, I wrapped the remaining rope around, not bothering with the glue gun as I was standing on a step stool and would likely burn the joint down. (See Tosh.0's Top 10 Step Stool Fails.) Once I got to the top, I just wedged the end of the rope in under the bracket and tied it tightly into place.

And here it is with just the one shelf up next to it.

I then installed the second shelf.
And here she is utilizing it for the first time. Regarding the stack of plastic storage boxes at the bottom, I'm planning on putting a window seat there with the litter box inside of it, but I'm waiting for her to get a little longer, as she can't drop much further down than that.

Now, she didn't really get what the pole was for to begin with, so I had to train her how to climb. Though, she had already figured out how to climb the couch interestingly enough. Here is a video of her learning and then succeeding at climbing the entire thing.

She no longer climbs the couch. She uses the bottom of the pole as a scratch post.

Someone else posted the how to's of this pole. While I was thinking of doing something like this on my own, I realized someone else had done it, and decided to follow some of their instructions and then customize as needed.

At the end of the video you can see a black Drona box on top of the bookshelf, I bought that at IKEA as well, to keep her from trying to jump down onto the kitchen counter. She enjoys the cubby hole experience. And other than if I reach my hand up there and she attacks it, I would have no idea where she is.

Black cat + black furniture = I can't see you

1 comment:

dudeguypants said...

Amazing. Can't wait to build my kitten stripper pole