Heart to Tail Cat Scratching Playhouse + Cat Activity Box

Last Updated on November 30, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: Aldi continues to sell cat scratching playhouses every few months, often with special designs for Valentine’s Day, Halloween, summer, or Christmas. The playhouses cost $6.99 each as of December of 2023, which is $1 less than what we paid for our first cat playhouse in 2018. 

I noticed last year that Aldi sold some cute little cardboard cat houses during the holiday season. I nearly bought one for my cat, but I’m never sure if my cat will actually use stuff like that. Many cat toys seem to go ignored or forgotten. Because, well, if you have ever owned a cat, you understand. So I passed up the cat house.

But this year, the cat houses are back, and my 10-year-old said, “Mom, we should get one for our cat!”

So I caved and bought the Heart to Tail Cat Scratching Playhouse. While I was at it, I also purchased the Heart to Tail Cat Activity Box. Both are $7.99.

Heart to Tail Cat Scratching Playhouse and Cat Activity Box

Our cat eyeing her new toys. With our Aldi robotic vacuum in the background because robotic vacuums and cats seem to go together.

Heart to Tail Cat Scratching Playhouse

Heart to Tail Cat Scratching Playhouse

This is probably the most eye-catching of the two cat items in question. It comes in several patterns, including a cottage (which is what I bought), gingerbread house, or Christmas tiki hut. The Christmas patterns mean you may not want this sitting out in a prominent part of your house after the holidays. It would be nice if there were some year-round designs.

When assembled, the playhouse measures 12″ x 20″ x 12″. It includes a small pouch of catnip (probably about 1/4 cup or less of ground, dried catnip) and two 9.5″ x 11.25″ scratching pads. The box claims it “helps cats feel secure in small festive space” and encourages positive scratching on appropriate material.

Heart to Tail Cat Scratching Playhouse

A guide to all the pieces on the back of the box. (Click to enlarge.)

Heart to Tail Cat Scratching Playhouse

The instruction sheet. (Click to enlarge.)

It takes a little bit of time to assemble the playhouse because it is constructed with cardboard tabs that fit into each other. It comes with assembly instructions and a visual chart that shows what pieces go where. It’s not too difficult, other than simply punching out the cardboard tabs, and it takes some patience and careful maneuvering to get everything into place. It is definitely not an easy pop-up kind of thing. Once it’s assembled, you probably won’t want to take it apart for storage because it will wear out the cardboard tabs. So once it’s up, it’s up.

My cat was immediately curious when I opened the box and began assembling her house. She came over to sniff it and stick her head in at various stages of assembly.

Heart to Tail Cat Scratching Playhouse

Checking out the half-assembled house.

When I first assembled the house, I thought the chimney was not well designed. It was bendy and didn’t stand up straight. See the picture below:

Heart to Tail Cat Scratching Playhouse

The bendy chimney.

Later, I realized the chimney needed to be folded over and tucked down. That part is not mentioned in the directions. It looks much better now.

Heart to Tail Cat Scratching Playhouse

The improved chimney.

I forgot to place the two scratching pads inside the house before placing the roof on, but I was able to carefully get them through the front door, just barely. You can use the house with or without the scratching pads. It just depends on what you think your cat would prefer.

Heart to Tail Cat Scratching Playhouse

Heart to Tail Cat Scratching Playhouse

Heart to Tail Cat Scratching Playhouse

Heart to Tail Cat Scratching Playhouse

The house has plenty of holes, windows, and doors. Notice the cat tail popping out of the side of the house.

When I finished the house, I called my cat over (she actually came) and she went inside right away and sat down as if she knew she was the rightful owner. She seemed pretty content. I sprinkled a tiny amount of the included catnip on the playhouse floor and she responded accordingly, rolling onto her back and looking slightly intoxicated. This house has lots of windows and holes where you can stick feathers, toys, or fingers (just be careful!) in to play with your cat.

Heart to Tail Cat Scratching Playhouse

After catnip!

Of course, one never knows if a cat will continue to use a cat toy. She has been sitting and sleeping in it quite a bit, so I’m hoping she will continue to enjoy it. The fact that it’s a box probably helps because most cats seem to love boxes. This seems more likely to be used than our expensive carpet-covered cat condo from the pet store, which our cat never uses. This cardboard house has the added benefit of looking cute.

Because it’s cardboard, and because the tabs where all the walls attach are not the most durable material, I’m not sure how long the house will last. I also noticed that when my cat leaned hard against the sides of the house, which have a crease because they were folded to fit in the box in the store, the walls bowed out a bit and I had to push them back in. Check back later for updates on how the house is holding up.

UPDATE (11/30/2023) — I learned that if you tape the seams on these playhouses with clear packing tape, they hold together for a lot longer, even when your cat leans against the walls. I highly recommend going ahead and taping the house to reinforce the walls as soon as you assemble it.

Heart to Tail Cat Activity Box

Heart to Tail Cat Activity Box

This is actually a pretty cool cat toy. It’s a hollow box with three compartments, with a removable scratching pad on top. The box has several holes on the sides, and the scratching pad has holes as well, so that a cat can reach in or down into the box to bat at three plastic balls with bells that are included.

Heart to Tail Cat Activity Box

The box disassembled. The scratching pad fits on top, and balls go inside. (Click to enlarge.)

Heart to Tail Cat Activity Box

Playing with the feather toy.

There’s also a feather toy on a spring. This can be tucked into a corner or side of the activity box, or you can take it off and wave it with your hand for your cat to play with. One feather was already off the feather toy upon opening the box, and we lost two other feathers within the first minute of cat play, so we’ll see how that holds up. In general, even feather toys from name-brand pet stores don’t always last long in the grips of enthusiastic cat paws.

Heart to Tail Cat Activity Box

She stuck her paw through a hole to bat at a ball inside the box.

Heart to Tail Cat Activity Box

Heart to Tail Cat Activity Box

I stuck the feather toy stick in a hole on one end, and it popped out a hole on the other side, much to my cat’s fascination.

Overall, this toy seems to be well designed and offers multiple ways for my cat to play. It is getting more use from my senior citizen cat (she’s 12.5 years old) than I anticipated. When I removed it from the package, she came over right away and scratched on the scratching pad. Also, my cat often simply sits on top of the activity box. I guess she views it as a nice perch.

Heart to Tail Cat Activity Box

Update: A month and a half after I purchased the Heart to Tail Cat Activity Box, it broke. My cat was sitting on it, as she often does, and the top scratching pad/platform suddenly snapped into two pieces. My cat weighs about 10 pounds, so she is around the average weight for a cat. Perhaps the box was not built with the intention that a cat would frequently just sit on top of it. Apparently, it cannot handle being sat upon long-term by an average-sized cat. I super glued the pieces back together, but they never felt very sturdy, so eventually I took out the supports inside the box so the scratching pad lies flat in the bottom of the box. It’s less of an activity box now and is just a box for my cat to sit in.

Heart to Tail Cat Activity Box

The broken Cat Activity Box. (Click to enlarge.)

Heart to Tail Cat Activity Box

My cat wondering what went wrong.

The Verdict:

Aldi’s Special Buy (ALDI Find) Heart to Tail Cat Scratching Playhouse and Cat Activity Box are cute and fun for feline friends, and humans will appreciate the fun designs on the playhouse. So far my cat likes and uses both products. The scratching pad top surface of the Cat Activity Box broke into two pieces a month and a half after I purchased it, so now it’s just a box for my cat to sit in and not much of an activity box. Here’s to hoping my cat continues to actually use these products, because you never know with cats.

About Rachael

Rachael is the Co-founder of Aldi Reviewer. When she isn't busy shopping at Aldi, she enjoys cooking, gardening, writing gothic romance, and collecting more houseplants than she probably should. You can learn more about her at rachaelsjohnston.com.


  1. appreciate the review!! I bought the activity box and wasn’t sure what to do with the spring. Now I know. The smaller of my kittens is already aggressively attacking the feather :3

  2. Thanks for the reviews! I bought the gingerbread cat playhouse last year (2018) and I’m pleased to say that while it’s gotten wear and tear from both of my cats–the house still stands. Both of my adult cats enjoy scratching ( especially if I add fresh catnip) or sleeping in the cat house. I had never thought to use a feather wand type cat toy to add to the fun for my cats, but I will try it. I also think that other designs should be incorporated so that this toy can be sold year round and not just during the Christmas season.
    My cats are are really. enjoying cat activity box. They like scratching on it, playing with the feather toy, and with the little balls inside the toy. What I did to add to the fun was to drop in a some cat treats into the holes in the box so that it becomes a kind of puzzle feeder for my cats–they get to exercise thier minds along with the physical fun/reward of retrieving the treats. And the feather toy is deatchable so that you can interactively play with your cat if you like. And yes, my cats enjoy just laying on it & chilling.
    Overall, I highly recommend both. Your cats will love them, and they won’t break the bank

  3. thanks for your review. We received a tiki hut as a gift this holiday season and thought our five cats would ignore it but they all love it. It is now almost June and the tiki hut has collapsed for the final time. The scratch pads are shredded, the walls in pieces and the only thing left in one piece is the roof. Where can I get a replacement??

    • Aldi only sells the cat houses once a year, usually around Christmas time. Look for them again sometime in December.

      • It’s been a few years, and Aldi has apparently realized these cat playhouses are very popular. They now sell them several times a year with different seasonal themes, so you shouldn’t have to wait too long to find a replacement in stores.

  4. Love the cat scratching playhouse-bought one a couple years ago and yesterday bought a new one with fall design-my cats love it! Adli rocks are far as product line!

  5. I just bought the Autumn-themed playhouse this past weekend but haven’t put it together yet. Do you know if replacement scratch pads are available to buy? I haven’t looked online yet (will do that now that i am at work)… great review, too! I laughed out loud several times! 😀

    • Aldi does not sell replacement scratching pads. You’d have to just find scratching pads from a pet store or other retailer, I guess.

      • UPDATE… I bought both of these toys for my 2 cats, Woodie and Berni. Woodie has always been more toy-oriented and loved the activity box… until i put together the playhouse and OH it’s his favorite place to nap now, for the last 3 weeks or so! Berni goes in to investigate and scratch the pads but doesn’t stay. Woodie goes in, after dinner, grooms himself then goes to sleep… i love it! As far as replacement pads, i’ll probably just use layers of cardboard, cut it so that it fits… 🙂

  6. My two kittens love the activity box, but they are very adept in getting g the balls out. I’d like to purchase some extra balls that fit In it. So I’m not chasing them all the time and putting them back in the box.

  7. Does Aldi normally sell some sort of scratching post all the time? Or are they seasonal too?

    • Any scratching posts would be limited-time Aldi Finds. They offer pet items fairly often as Aldi Finds, so keep an eye on the weekly ads.

  8. Our kitten got one as a gift this year! The little Christmas house he loves it!
    He’s plays in all the time. Everyone I have sent pictures to wants one.

  9. We reinforced the garden house with clear packing
    Tape during the assembly. The first one, a gingerbread house, broke after a few months. The cat loves the house. The floor is a scratch pad and is well used.
    I believe that the scratchpad also helps to keep the house stable.

  10. My wife bought the house. Since our cats are full grown and large, I wasn’t sure how they might like or use it. Well they love it for scratching, sleeping and playing together. Because my cats are large, they managed to push out and detach the sides of the house. Was time to get out the super glue. I permanently attached the sides and ends of the house which fixed the problem. I certainly recommend this item as I’m sure all cats would use and enjoy it.

  11. Hello I just bought my kitty his 1st scratch playhouse the coffe shop is the cutest idea but as I was putting it together I noticed im missing the font panel of the house and the cat nip is missing as well and I bought it when I was out of town on a day trip so I can’t just go exchange it can you help
    please thank you

  12. Well my Queen Sheba just loves her new home, scratching, napping, and relaxing center.

    She got this as a Christmas gift from her grandma.

    Are there bigger ones like a truck?

    My girl was born in 2009 and just loves to scratch my sofa do for Christmas I placed this in the living room and she doesn’t scratch the sofa anymore when she gets mad she just goes in and scratches away and I say, good girl!

  13. Please review this god-awful Heart to Tail Bird In A Cage cat toy. It is the worst piece of trash. I am so sorry I made the mistake of buying it. UGH! Such crap.

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