I love all animals but in weighing which of my pets have done the most damage through the years, that honor clearly goes to our cat Rossi (aka Supervisory Special Agent David Rossi). I don’t say this lightly. Two of my Labradors were chewers and one even ate his way through a paneled wall in our basement.
But, the cat still wins the award for most property destroyed. He has managed to claw his way through most of our furniture leaving behind shredded fabric and broken decorating dreams in his wake.
He seemed particular fond of one end of the couch so in my brilliance I hung a cat scratcher for him in the same spot. He opted to find another area of the couch to start clawing instead. I then bought him a cardboard scratching bed and redirected him there. He took a nap in it, and after waking proceeded to walk over to one of our recliners and claw the arm.
He as a three tiered kitty condo in the basement but only uses it on the rare occasion when people are down there with him. On that I don’t blame him. While they may seem aloof, cats are social and want to at least be adjacent to people if not fully engaged with them.
But, I want a new couch and I can’t buy one until I know the cat is done redesigning furniture with his claws. When I saw this sisal mat upcycle project in my progressively more desperate google searches, I thought why not?
I found a framed picture at Goodwill that I could repurpose. It had the right shape and would fit the space I was thinking of for our new art inspired scratching pad. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a used sisal mat available and as this project was more time sensitive I ended up buying one new although this part of the project could easily be done with a used or second hand mat too.
This was a fairly quick project. I removed the picture and inner frame. The picture came out easily after I removed the nails on each side that were keeping it in place. The inner mat was stapled into the outer frame so I used my Dremel to cut through the staples. Once disassembled I primed and painted the frame black with a coat of polyurethane on top.
Before painting the frame, I lined the sisal up underneath to get a sense of where I wanted to cut the mat as it was larger than my frame. I wanted to keep the design centered so I marked the sisal with a yellow highlighter in the corners and then pushed through to the bottom mat in those spots so I knew where to cut on the back.
I used a metal square as my guide and a box cutter to cut the mat to size. I found that pushing the box cutter through the mat at intervals and then going back for the straight cut worked well and I was able to get the mat down to the desired shape fairly easily.
After the frame dried, I was ready to add the mat. I had to push around the edges to get the sisal into the frame. I used a letter opener to help force the sisal into the frame. Once in place, I used duct tape to secure the edges. Since the sisal mat was deeper than the frame, I nailed into the frame at regular intervals and then bent the nails over the mat with the hammer so they were almost like clips holding it in place.
I put velcro command strips on the rug to hang it so that the frame wasn’t holding any weight. I wanted this sturdy for the cat.
Lesson one was about selecting the right materials. One mistake that I made was the frame wasn’t deep enough so the frame really doesn’t hit the wall. It’s not noticeable but if I did this project again, I would look for a deeper frame.
Lesson two was about the futility of trying to control the cats behavior. I slathered my newly minted interactive art piece in catnip and then hung it on the wall. When I showed it to the cat, let’s just say if he was an art critic the show would have closed already.
I’m not sure this will solve my problem but I’m going to try to redirect him to the scratching picture when I find him scratching furniture over the next few months and see if he starts getting the idea.
Ironically, anytime I bring anything new into the house, the cat is all over it making sure to get his scent everywhere and be the first lay claim to it. Not this time. It’s almost like he knew I was doing this to try and control his behavior. Like I even could.
Wish me luck! I really want a new couch.
Why this project?
I’m posting a series of creative reuse, or upcycling, projects that I’ve completed in honor of Earth Day (April 22nd). I love crafting and finding ways to reuse rather than dispose of items is a fun, creative challenge. Watch for a few other repurposed projects on my blog this month.