make a super cute cactus scratching post!

I swear the cats actually use this, but they’re huge jerks so whenever the camera comes out they immediately stop, and then give me a look like “yeah, that’s right, what are you going to do about it?”

A while ago Cayce sent me the gif from this Facebook post and I was immediately obsessed. I’m actually not really a fan of cats and I kind of don’t understand why a person would have one (Stockholm syndrome?), but what I am a huge fan of is ridiculous replacements for ugly everyday items. And oh boy are most scratching posts ugly!


This is pretty much what Cayce had before she moved, and the thought of it sitting in her pretty new living room with all of her pretty new vintage furniture made me want to die a little. (A lot.) So cactus gif to the rescue! Well, not exactly to the rescue, because as it turns out, a 30-second gif isn’t exactly the best format to explain a multi-step DIY. I realized this while I was standing around in Home Depot desperately pausing and rewinding the gif, trying to count pipes and figure out wtf a 3″ “flushing” is. (Spoiler: it’s a toilet flange, and a “flushing” is not a thing that exists except to get Home Depot guys to look at you like you’re mentally challenged.) Also I had to buy rope three separate times because the gif only shows about 10% of the amount you need.  Honestly I have SO MANY FEELINGS about “instructional” gifs but this probably isn’t the time.

So anyway, here’s a step-by-step with actual words and numbers and stuff!

(P.S. I ended up making two of these, and after the second one left my apartment I really missed it. I’m thinking of making a third one for myself just as decoration, because it somehow scratches my “buy a giant cactus” itch without having to spend a billion dollars.It honestly blended in pretty well with all my other plants.)

(P.P.S. Sorry I disappeared for like a month. Things got a little rough. It’s okay now though.)


PVC parts:

  • a 3″ diameter pipe cut into (7) 3″-long sections (if you don’t have a chop saw have the hardware store do it for you)
  • (2) 3″  45 degree connectors
  • (2) 3″ wye connectors
  • (3) 3″ couplings
  • a 3″ toilet flange (BTW, I got all the PVC parts at the hardware store because they are bonks expensive on Amazon, but Amazon is cheaper for everything else)

300 feet of 1/4″ sisal rope (I used this from Amazon, which is way cheaper than what’s at the hardware store)

10 lb. bag of concrete mix (or smaller if you can find it–literally any kind of concrete will do)

17″ wood circle (I love that this is a Subscribe & Save item, btw)

(4) 3/4″ long screws

E6000 glue

green spray paint (this is my absolute favorite spray paint for weird surfaces)

green dye (I used RIT in kelly green for one and dark green for the other)

an absurd amount of hot glue sticks (seriously, I got this bag of 50 and used the entire thing on the first cactus, so for the second one I bought this and now I will have glue sticks forever)

(2) 4″ foam balls, cut in half

some fake flowers if that’s your jam, or some felt for making your own


hot glue gun (this is the one I have–I’ve never owned a hot glue gun before so I have nothing to compare it too, but it’s amazing)

electric screwdriver (if you don’t already have one, get that one. I’ve had mine for like 10 years and it improves the quality of my like about 1000%)

lazy susan (not technically necessary, but also so necessary if you don’t want to go insane)


a small bucket or a coffee can


step 1: dye the rope

I dyed about 230 feet of rope, with 70 left over for the base. If you already have your own method for dyeing lots of shit totally do that. What I did was coil the rope into loose circles that I secured with yarn (so it wouldn’t tangle once it got wet), then I boiled two big pots of water and dumped them into a 5-gallon bucket with a whole packet of dye. The dark green dye worked on the rope pretty much immediately, but the kelly green needed about five minutes. Then I took the rope out of the water, let it cool a bit, and draped the rope over a shower curtain I put up directly over my tub. With good airflow and a few fans it took the rope about five hours to completely dry, which is, like, so long to wait, so maybe do it the night before and let it dry overnight so you’re not sitting around checking it every 20 minutes. Also, the rope is going to twist itself up like crazy once it hits the hot water, so get ready for some frustration when you’re rolling it up into balls after it dries.


step 2: assemble the PVC pieces 

In case you’re like me have a hard time visualizing how things fit together, here’s the pipe configuration. (The skinnier tubes are the 3″-long sections of pipe)

Start by screwing the toilet flange into the middle of the wood circle. If you have an electric screwdriver, you shouldn’t need to pre-drill or anything.

Then just start stacking the pieces. Use a fair amount of glue–I didn’t at first and everything was super wobbly. Hammer everything together as tightly as you can so you don’t end up with gaps between the couplings.

After you’ve hammered in your third 3″ section of PVC pipe, mix up some concrete in a bucket and pour it in. You can be pretty casual about the water-to-powder ratio, and you don’t need to worry about air bubbles or anything–this is strictly for weight, not strength.

Then just keep going with the glue and the hammer until you have the whole cactus! It would also make sense to glue on the three styrofoam half-balls at this point, but for whatever reason I didn’t do that until later.

optional: do some quick coats of green spray paint on the PVC. This really helps disguise any gaps in the rope so you don’t have to stress so much when you’re gluing it on.


step 3: cactify the pipes! 

Basically just squiggle on hot glue and wrap the rope around and around and around and around. This is where the lazy susan will stop you from becoming suicidal. I’m honestly not sure this is emotionally possible without a lazy susan.

I just kind of winged the junction points. I don’t actually like how this method ended up looking, so for the top one I did my best to wrap the pipes individually. No matter what you do there are going to be gaps, but it’s easy to fill those in with separate short lengths of rope.

It’s kind of hard to see here because it blends in pretty well, but this is where I filled in a little blank wedge with three or four short rope lengths. So don’t stress about it being perfect right away.

Then just finish the bottom with the un-dyed rope, glue on some flowers (put them up high so they don’t immediately get torn off), and throw a party because you can trash away that gross beige carpeted pile of garbage that’s been totally ruining your living room.



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    1. Does it sound like she made two Cactus Scratching posts? One Kelly Green and the Other Dark Green?

  1. Wondering how much dyed green rope you needed total (to complete one)? Did you have any extra? Just wondering is the 230′ did one or two cat trees…

    1. I believe it was 230 for one. I think I had some green rope left over, but not a ton.

  2. I really appreciate your sense of humor, girl! Your comments about the lazy Susan and glue stick remnants made me laugh 🙂 I read several posts about building scratchers and I liked yours the most. Thanks for being a part of building my first pair of cactus scratchers! I would love to share my pics with you if you still monitor this page.

  3. Hi! Did you fill the whole think with concrete or just that bottom part? Thanks!

  4. Hi! Did you fill the whole thing with concrete or just that bottom part? Thanks!

    1. I don’t see a response but I’d just wrap the yarn around the foam ball and glue it on

  5. The links to both dyes lead to kelly green. Correct me of I’m wrong, the lighter cactus was made with kelly green dye?

  6. This is adorable. Picking up supplies today to try and make this. Hopefully the ninja kitten will like climbing the cactus better than my leg.

  7. Ok I made this as a quarantine activity and took a couple of weeks to get all the parts and dye but it’s a big hit in our house! Cat is still jumping all over it! We used a chopping board for the base, but definitely sand it back otherwise the glue won’t stick!

  8. I love this but I’m curious… why the small pieces rather that a couple of longer pieces? Why not one longer piece for the base, the top and maybe a smaller one for each of the limbs?