Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Saving money on a cat expense

While there are many things about cat ownership that I am less-than-pleased with, my cats do use the sisal scratching boards I provide them. I try to have at least two on the living room floor to minimize any territorial issues between my two cats. Since declawing means essentially removing the equivalent of the first knuckle on human hands, I refuse to subject my cats to such mutilation. In my experience, any damage to furniture is minimized with access to acceptable outlets (e.g., Sisal Scratcher) and by covering vulnerable furniture.

However, even cat scratchers, sisal or otherwise, become worn out. Since the scratching posts I use are sisal rope wrapped around a wooden board, I figured out a way to reuse them. I removed the frayed sisal rope and added it to my composter (sisal is a grass and therefore, biodegradeable). After studying the construction of the sisal scratching board, I purchased sisal rope from the hardware store and borrowed my mother's staple gun. I secured the ends of the rope with three staples and then tightly wound the sisal rope around the board. Reaching the end of the board, I secured the end with staples and cut off the excess rope. Although it took me some time and I ended up with lots of twisted rope (and tired hands), I managed to reuse the scratcher boards to create a new scratching surface for my cats.

Reluctant kitties can be lured with catnip, but my geriatric cats (nearly 13 and 15) recognize that the sisal rope boards on the floor are theirs to use as needed. My older cat has used the revived scratcher without any issues and I am proud of my handiwork. Again, I minimized my garbage footprint by keeping the boards out of a landfill. With a small outlay of cash ($5 for rope) and about 30 minutes of my time, I generated two scratching boards for my cats to use that should last another few years before making them again. Since each new sisal scratching board costs $12 a piece, I saved nearly $20 with this project. I wish I had figured this reuse project sooner!


  1. That's a good idea. My husband and I are looking at fostering a cat or two from the local shelter and I was trying to think of ways to minimize the cost and waste associated with ownership. I know I'll be able to find food dishes at the local thrift store, I'm a little less certain about being able to find a litter box but we shall see.

  2. @badhuman,

    Consider using a storage box (e.g., Rubbermaid or Sterilite). Because of certain issues with one of my cats, I needed something with high sides. In addition, the local humane society recommends new cat owners use a 66 quart container (2.5 feet by 16 inches by 14 inch deep). An unscented plastic bag over a cardboard box may be useful as a temporary box.