Here’s a fun DIY Ikea hack that we made recently for The Kitten Lady herself, Hannah Shaw for her new kitten nursery! Hannah is a total dynamo animal rescue guru, specializing in neo-natal kitten rescue. If you ever need to know anything about bottle feeding and caring for kittens, you must visit her website KittenLady.org and her YouTube channel where you will find every resource you need to help save these precious little lives, which are usually disregarded in the shelter system because they require so much care. Hannah is influencing a whole new generation of cat lovers and I’m thrilled to have been able to help her with this project!
Hannah and her boyfriend Andrew Martilla recently moved from the east coast to Southern California and they wanted to set-up the ultimate kitten nursery in their new home, so I helped by designing this custom kitten climber using some simple materials and a little creativity. I’m going to share the details of how we created this kitten jungle gym so anyone who wants to build their own can see how we did it.
I started with two basic wooden baby changing tables from Ikea. One of our goals was to give the kittens a way to look out the window, and the changing tables are the perfect height. Unfortunately, this particular model is on back order at Ikea, but luckily I was able to find a pair on OfferUp. Always check OfferUp and Craig’s List for things that you can use for DIY catification projects! You never know what you will find and it’s usually a bargain!
The trickiest parts of this project, and the parts that required the most skill, were the custom ramps that we built so the kittens could easily reach the upper levels of the changing tables. My husband, Mark, is a luthier so he has all the skills (and tools!) for a project like this. After heading to the home improvement store to pick out some boards, Mark set to work building the ramps, which fit perfectly over the sides of the changing table. The ramps are easy to remove for cleaning, plus they make a fantastic “runway” for the kittens!
The next task was to paint and seal both the ramps and the changing tables. We used good quality indoor paint so it would be safe for the little ones, nursery paint is a great option. Hannah wanted a color pallet of light yellow, aqua, soft pink and gray for her nursery so it would have a stylish yet “babyish” feel.
We also sealed the entire piece using several coats of water-based polyurethane so it can be completely sanitized between litters of kittens in order to prevent the transfer of any germs. This was another really important goal in designing the kitten climber, everything has to be washed and sanitized regularly, plus it needs to be durable enough to withstand use by lots of active kittens.
Before sealing the wood with the polyurethane, I added some custom vinyl decals. I had these decals made just for this project but you can find all kinds of cute vinyl cat-themed decals on Etsy. This is the part where you can get really creative and make something totally unique! Have fun with it!
Next came my favorite part, a trip to the fabric store! I found so many fantastic cat prints in soft fleece I couldn’t believe it! And they were all in the color pallet, perfect for a nursery. I set to work making pads for the changing tables, plus I made hammocks for underneath the bottom level of the changing tables. I used extra thick batting in the pads so they would be comfy for the kittens to nap on and I sewed the batting in place so it won’t slip around during washing. These are both very simple projects that anyone with a sewing machine can make.
The finished climber fits perfectly under the window and the second we let the kittens into the room to investigate their new jungle gym they loved it!
As you can see, we added a non-slip surface to both ramps to prevent slipping and allow the kittens to climb up easily. I used the outdoor carpet from Home Depot, which is available in pre-cut pieces or on a roll that you can have cut to size. It’s inexpensive and easy to cut, plus it doesn’t fray at the edges. Use double-sided carpet tape to hold the carpet in place, which allows you to easily pull up the carpet and replace it as needed. It also makes a great scratching surface!
Here’s Hannah’s foster kitten, Jumbo Slice, exploring the soft fleece pads. Look at that tail!
Here are the hammocks in place underneath the changing tables. I added woven straps on the corners of the fleece hammocks that attach to the legs with metal carabiners and eye hooks. They are easy to remove and can be tossed in the washing machine and dryer, just remember to remove the hooks before washing.
As a finishing touch we added were some hanging toys underneath the long ramp. These are available from the Hauspanther online store or you can make your own using bungee cord and any fun toy. I attached the toys to the ramp using eye hooks so they can also be replaced as needed. The kittens immediately found the toys and started batting away at them!
Make sure to watch Hannah’s video below to see the custom kitten climber in action! Jumbo Slice and Deep Dish are having the time of their lives while getting exercise and acting out all of their cat instincts as they play, jump, climb, scratch, look out the window and eventually crash out for a nap. What a life!
Other items you see in the nursery include the light pink cubes from Kitty Kasas, our TriPod Cat Lounge and Cubitat Multi-level Cat Bed & Hideaway from the Hauspanther Collection by Primetime Petz, the SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post from Pioneer Pet, and the Primetime Petz Designer Pet Lounge. Those are some lucky kittens!
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