Practical Printing – Kitten-Proofing

shredder cat meme
Representative of cat apartments most of 2020

Humans aren’t the only ones tired of the eternal lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic: pets start going stir crazy after months of the same walls, too. And just like young children, bored paws can be pretty destructive.

With three cats – two of which are kittens born at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown – the additional complication of the scientifically – or at least anecdotally – proven affinity between cats and paper products. When you combine this life fact with pandemic-related stockpiling of toilet paper and paper towels, you may very well encounter a significant problem.

cat with clawed toilet paper
Ruby inspects recent claw work

I have three cats, two of whom are still kittens and love finding all of the trouble there is to discover. One, Ruby, has particularly taken to decimating soft paper products: toilet paper, napkins, and paper towels do not stand a chance when matched against her kitten claws. She is not the smartest cat, so she usually waits for her kitten sister, Annika, to stretch up and spin the roll so Ruby can play with – and sometimes eat – the (literal) bounty. With many of these resources in short supply, I needed to do something. If I could prevent Annika from unspinning the roll, Ruby would be thwarted. I decided to make a cover to mount over the in-wall toilet paper holder.

clips to attach
Mounting to tile: solved

As a Star Trek fan and an amputee with a bionic implant, I frequently reference the Borg (the evil, robotic race bent on universal domination) and other robots. I started my plan with a search for Borg arm pieces on Thingyverse, wanting the arch shape with the robot pattern. I moved the file over to Tinkercad to make my edits. I measured a roll of toilet paper to get the diameter needed and used “hole” blocks to cut some of the angles. I also needed to mount this to ceramic in a rented apartment, so came up with a plan to use stick-on cord-keeper hooks as my wall mount. I used cylinders and a few blocks to create a rod to suspend from the cord-keepers.

printing with supports
Looking through to the supports

I have an old Makerbot Replicator 2x with ABS prototyping filament. The printer is too old to have much online support but works with the Makerbot desktop application. I needed a raft and supports, and even with the support settings optimized for speed the print (supports a little higher rows than the actual build, and greater distances from the build walls and roof) it still took the better part of 13 hours. The paper towel roll conversion would have to wait for another day.

But after some clean up, I was able to mount the final piece. While Annika still sometimes tries to grab the side of the roll, she can no longer spin it so loses interest and with Ruby most things that are out of sight are out of mind. I have saved the paper universe to fight another day.

3d printed toilet paper cover
The finished product

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