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  • Writer's pictureAlastair Morgan

DIY cat hideout during lockdown - IKEA Billy bookcase hack.

Cat looking out of a Pink Cat shaped panel fixed to a Billy bookcase shelf
DIY cat hideout for my IKEA Billy Bookcase

If you love your cat, then you'll love this neat DIY idea, and hopefully your furry family member will love it too.

I'm a doer by nature, which means I find it hard to sit around and do nothing. I'm used to visiting customers and working with my hands to assemble their new items of furniture, from bedside tables to wardrobes. So this lockdown period we are currently going through is making me restless.

I have done lots of small jobs around my home with the limited resources I have due to the DIY stores being closed. I have done more gardening than ever before and planted seeds and bulbs (hopefully they'll grow so myself and my wife will be rewarded with some beautiful plants and flowers). But now I am starting to run out of things to do around the home.

So I decided to make a hideout for my cat, Evie. She loves to crawl inside any new cardboard box which may be laying around and lately she has also taken to sitting on the bottom shelf of our IKEA Billy bookshelf. The bookshelf has recently been moved next to where she is fed, so like clockwork, when it's feeding time she has resorted to sitting on the bottom shelf, overlooking her food bowl, patiently waiting to be fed.

Tall, narrow Billy bookcase. Books an ornaments on shelves. Cat shaped panel fixed to the baottom shlef.
Tall, slim Billy boockase with DIY cat hideout panel

I thought it would be fun to transform this into Evie's very own shelf with the help of an offcut of MDF I had laying around and some fixings which I took from my 'spares' tub.

If you're interested in making one for your cat, kitten puppy or small dog whilst in lockdown, continue reading and I will explain how I made the panel for my bookshelf.

Materials required:

- x1 Sheet of MDF – approximately 5mm thick

- x4 90 degree angle brackets

- x4 screws – approximately 10-15mm long (no longer than the thickness of the side panel of you bookcase)

- Strong adhesive

Tools required:

- Saw

- Jigsaw

- Tape measure

- Ruler or straight edge

- Drill and drill bit (8-10mm)

- Set square

- Pencil

- G-clamps

- 100 grit sandpaper

- Workbench or pair of saw horses


1. Measure the height and width of the opening in the bookshelf which you intend fitting the panel into.

2. Mark the measurements on the MDF using the straight edge. Use the set square to make sure the corners are all 90 degrees.

3. Next, clamp the sheet of MDF to your workbench or saw horses with the G-clamps and using the saw, cut out your panel, taking care to follow the lines. Use the sand paper to remove any roughness due to the cut.

4. You should now have a square or rectangle which will fit snugly inside your bookcase opening.

5. Next you will need to design an opening (in my case, the outline of a cats head). Make sure it's large enough for your pet to comfortably get in and out of. There's no point making this only to find that your cat won't fit through the opening!

6. Once you have an idea for a design, draw it onto your panel.

7. Securely clamp your panel to your workbench or saw horses and using your jigsaw cut our your design. Note: If like me, your design doesn't come to the edge of the panel, you will need to make a hole in the centre of your design that you want to cut out using the drill and drill bit. This will allow you to cut from the centre outwards using the electric jigsaw.

8. Once you have carefully cut out your design, sand the edges smooth. You don't want your cat getting caught on any rough edges.

9. Next, fix the four 90 degree angle brackets to four of the screw holes in the side of your Billy bookcase. One in each corner will be perfect. (See image for reference)

90 degree fixing bracket, screwed into the side of the Billy Bookcase.
Fixing bracket for DIY cat hideout panel

10. Add glue to the front faces of the brackets and position the panel in place. Leave the glue to set.

11. Once the glue has hardened, you can unscrew the panel (its easier to do this if you can remove the shelf above).

Billy bookcase with cat panel fitted. Image from inside the bookcase.
Fixings for DIY cat hideout panel

12. You can now paint the panel in the colour of your choice. I chose pink as this is the same colour as some other items in the room.

13. Once the paint has dried, you can screw the panel back in place and replace any shelves which you have removed.

14. Finally you can stand back, admire the finished item and be proud of your handywork!

In addition to the panel, you may want to add some soft 'bedding' material inside the hideout. This could be an old towel, cushion or even a colourful blanket knitted by a neighbour.

Use soft, colourful bedding so your cat is cosy and snug.
Finished DIY bookcase cat hideout with bedding

Now all you have to do is hope that your cat or dog will love it too. Good luck!

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