It took me about 2 hours to take it apart. I proceeded slowly so I would not damage the parts. I took breaks and just enjoyed the process. It is actually fitting that Ebony is the header for these toys are his play ground.
Flash Back: I had tried to remove the damaged rug but they had the cat gym pieces so tightly butted to each other I could not get the rug out and I was to learn that there were big staples holding it together which meant I could not remove the rug and simply replace it without taking the whole cat gym/tree apart.
Goal: Replace the damaged rug on the two 2×4 posts that were holding the cat gym/tree together. Preserve the other parts to reuse them as they were.
Take a moment to study your cat tree/gym and see how it is constructed. Get your digital camera and take photos of it as it is before you proceed. You will forget how to put it back together and I found the photos very helpful. Take pictures from all angles. As you take it apart document the process and take photos of the pieces and more. I cannot show all photos to you here for certain reasons.
First: I started with the long 3-4 inches screws from the flat bottom of the cat gym using the portable drill. Again make sure the drill is fully charged these screws are tough to get out. You will need a Phillips headed bit for the portable drill to remove them. My hands are starting to show arthritis so trying to take these out without a portable drill may be really hard to do. If you don’t have one borrow one from a friend or family member or get help.
Place the screws that you have removed into the small bowl that you have handy so you don’t loose them. Now that you have the bottom flat piece of the cat gym off of the posts and the screws removed be gentle with the cat gym. It will now be floppy and unstable and the posts will wiggle some depending on what else they are attached to.
Take the bottom flat piece of the cat gym and set it aside. Take a minute to note where the holes are and where the two posts holes are to see how they had gone together. You will want to return to this configuration when you go to put it back together.
Note Where they Are!
Second: Each cat gym is put together differently. Study yours and decide where to start first. My cat gym has two cradles, one round hideaway with a window and two posts. The top round hideaway was attached to a cradle on its top. I could preserve these two units as one and only needed to remove them from the two 2×4 posts that were holding them up. The other cradle was attached to the posts at the bottom and with short 2×4 posts and that could be all one unit. So I had to pry apart the top of the posts, and the sides and remove the bottom piece. At this point I was dealing with 1.5 inch heavy staples. See example photo below.
Third: Where you decide to pry first is your choice. I took my crowbar and gently placed it between the top of one post and the round hideaway/cradle and start to pry it apart from the hideaway/cradle. At first it will be tight but eventually with leverage you will begin to see the hold weaken. You might need your hammer to add force to the crowbar by tapping it. You may be prying several pieces apart and that is up to you in want order you wish to proceed.
NOTE: The wood 2×4 posts are stronger so pry them apart from the cradle or cradle/hideaway weaker pieces. The staples will be originally attached from the weaker piece into the wooden 2×4’s. So you will use the crowbar in between gently separating the two pieces.
Once you try prying one piece from the other you will begin to see how it is constructed and realize that the staples will pull away from the 2×4 posts. They will be sticking out from the hideaway/cradle or cradle and be careful they are very sharp and long and there are many.
WARNING: Do not be impatient and do not be rough, take your time when prying. If you want to reuse pieces then proceed slowly.
Fourth: You will probably have the sharp ends of the staples poking out free of the other weaker part. Hopefully the weaker part and not the wood 2×4. So the hideaway/cradle will have sharp staples poking out where once it was attached to the 2×4 wood post.
Staple Points - Sharp!!
I took a small hammer and gently tapped the sharp tips of the staples backing them out through the hideaway/cradle so that they revealed themselves on the other side and I could see them in the rug. Then I used my pliers to grab their flat heads and removed them totally. The staples point might be bent so you might have to straighten a little so you can gently hammer them out. Remove them all. Check the 2×4 wooden post for pieces of a staple and use the pliers to remove any broken off pieces. You want the wooden 2×4’s smooth and clean of any sharp pieces.
Staple Heads Pull Out!
Note: Before I started prying I tried to find the staple heads in the rug material but I could not. I could feel them but not see them till I had pried them out of the wood post and tapped them with a hammer and then their flat heads started to reveal themselves in the rug. This means the staples were attached flat and embedded well so they would not be caught in your cat’s claws.
Fifth: When prying the pieces apart you will have to use pressure to do so. The staples are long (1.5 inches) and embedded in the rug and wood material very well. As you pry you will begin to see a separation occurring. You might need to use your hammer on the crowbar to give a little extra force to slowly separate the pieces of the cat gym.
It actually didn’t take me too long to take the cat gym/tree apart once I started to see what they were using to hold it together: long heavy-duty staples and long screws. I probably could do it faster now that I know what to expect. It was actually kidda fun. Good Luck!