Got cats? If so, you might want to think about building a cat tunnel to add a bit of adventure to your feline friend’s life. Cat tunnels are a way for cats to hide, play and have some fun. We spoke with an expert in the Chicago area for tips on how to create the perfect cat tunnel. From finding the right materials to cleaning tips, Alice Lerman, the co-owner of Barker & Meowsky: A Paw Firm, gives her advice for cat owners.
(Photo Credit: barker & meowsky - a paw firm on Facebook)

(Photo Credit: barker & meowsky – a paw firm on Facebook)

Alice Lerman, Co-Owner
Barker & Meowsky: A Paw Firm
1003 W. Armitage Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 868-0200

In a typical day as co-owner of Barker & Meowsky: A Paw Firm, Alice Lerman said she gets to help people with an aspect of their lives. “It’s a lot of fun to get to play with dogs and cats. I get to really work with customers to find out what we can do to help them out and help them navigate the right products for their pets,” she said. She also spends her days researching new pet products as they become available on the market. Located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, Barker & Meowsky: A Paw Firm offers an assortment of collars, clothes, treats and toys for dogs and cats.

Keep The Purpose Of A Cat Tunnel In Mind

Why should you get a cat tunnel, anyway? According to Lerman, cat tunnels can help cats stay active. “Cats love to hide and climb, so tunnels speak to them on a cat level. It’s basic Cat 101,” she explained. Lerman also noted the tunnel should be at least as big as your cat, and should have a few holes so they can peek out and maybe thrust a paw. “[The tunnel] really depends on the animal and what they like. It also depends on your space and what your cat likes,” she said.

Use Different Materials

When it comes to building a cat tunnel, Lerman noted that a cat owner is only limited by his creativity. You can visit a store that’s getting rid of boxes. Keep your eyes open — what can my cat fit in? Maybe use carpet remnants inside of boxes. It really doesn’t matter — just see how your cat is reacting to it and have some fun. It’s all about setting up something like a little kitty playground. Hide food and treats in different corners so they have to hunt for it.

Re-purpose Items

You don’t have to break the bank so you can build a new cat tunnel. Lerman pointed out that some items can be re-purposed to create a fun and exciting apparatus for a cat. “I’ve seen people take old furniture and cut holes for the cat,” she pointed out. Cat owners can also create shelving that’s stable and has tiers. “This looks like art, and it’s like a climbing gym for the cats. You can make those look kind of cool. You can also add carpet to it so it’s not slippery,” Lerman said.

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Know What Not To Use

Lerman advised against using slippery materials, as they can make it difficult for a cat to climb. “Learn what your cat likes and start with a few cardboard boxes, and go from there,” Lerman advised. Cat owners should also keep safety in mind when creating a tunnel. Lerman advised against using staples or wires to connect different parts of the tunnel. Lerman also noted that if you use glue, then it should be non-toxic.

Keep The Tunnel Interesting

You’ve built your cat tunnel. Think you’re finished? Think again. Lerman advised taking steps to keep the tunnel interesting. “Add and take away things so they don’t get bored [in the tunnel],” she said. You can also reintroduce different toys and hide treats in different parts of the tunnel to keep it interesting for your cat.

Tidy Up

After a while, you might find it’s time to repair or even replace your cat’s tunnel. If you have cardboard boxes, Lerman advised throwing out the boxes. If you use cloth or other materials, Lerman recommended using a vacuum or wiping out the tunnel. “When the tunnel’s overused and overloved, you start fresh. If you use a shelf, you should vacuum like you would any furniture in the house,” she said. When cleaning the cat tunnel, Lerman also noted that cats are sensitive to smell and you should make sure the cleaning solution doesn’t have a smell.

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Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at