How To Build Your Own Cat Tree In 3 Easy Steps

One thing that all cat owners should have for their cats is a cat tree. Whether you have one or multiple cats, ideally you want to have multiple cat trees.

Of course this can be a bit challenging for many reasons. You might:

  • have limited space
  • find expenses add up quickly
  • find cheap cost means cheap & dangerous cat furniture
  • want to customize your own setup

Whatever the case may be, sometimes its just better to build your own cat tree. But like a lot of projects you think up from time to time, this might seem easier than it really is.

Coming from someone who enjoys carpentry and has won several blue ribbons, there are always hard ways to go about creating things and easy ways to go about doing things. The most important factor is that we DO NOT SACRIFICE QUALITY for being hasty, lazy, cheap or a combination of reasons.

I want to show you how easy you can build a quality, sturdy, DIY cat tree without turning your life into an emotional wreck. My dad used to always say, easy is better than hard and I’m going to show you how to make this work for you and your cat.

Before starting, always practice safe habits and use all tools according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Myself and anyone on the Cat Climbing Structures team are not responsible for any damages, injuries, or other occurrences that happen as a result of your building your cat tree.

Proceed with caution and if you find you need help take one of our professionally developed DIY cat tree plans to a professional carpenter who can build it for you.

3 Steps To Build Your Own Cat Tree

Step 1: Design Your Cat Tree

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The very first thing that you need to do before getting started is to figure out what direction you are taking. To do this, you will need to come up with a design plan.

It will guide you through each step of the building process as well as show you all the materials you will need to purchase. You can sketch the design plan on a piece of paper or you could get a cat tree plan like these.

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Cat Tree Design

Space Limitations – consider where you want to place your cat tree and then determine what size of a cat tree will fit seamlessly into that space. Take measurements of the space and record them. These measurements will guide you in making the finished product.

Your Cat’s Personality – this will determine to a large extent the design of your cat tree. If for instance, your cat likes to climb, your cat tree design should be tall with several perches. If your cat likes privacy and staying alone, your design should have privacy as a top consideration.

Your Carpentry Skills – if your carpentry skills are not advanced, consider keeping your design simple. This way, you won’t get overwhelmed.

Availability of Homemade Cat Tree Plans – although you can find numerous Free DIY Cat Tree Plans on the internet, most of them are poorly put together, hard to understand and all-around poor quality. Finding a good quality cat tree plan is tough but they are out there if you look hard enough. We have some available here or you can chance the rough seas and try to make sense of the bad

Step 2: Buy Your Materials

Once you have the design, you will know which materials you need. Plywood is often used for horizontal platforms while more sturdy lumber is better suited for vertical supports.

Carpet is perfect for covering the wooden surfaces and a great scratching surface that cats love.

You may also need some carpentry tools including:

  • a drill
  • wood screws
  • a hammer
  • nails
  • a table saw
  • wood glue.
  • etc.

Be sure to consult your cat tree plans for all of the tools and materials you need. If this is your first time building, be sure to follow all the instructions step-by-step so that you can see how all materials and tools work together.

Once you gain some experience, feel free to swap certain materials for others. For instance, you might like oak wood instead of plywood but be sure to follow the overall instructions.

Be creative but safe at the same time. YOU are responsible for your own outcomes so always take your due diligence seriously.

*Cat Climbing Structures is not responsible for any damages to you or anything related to you when you do your own projects*

Step 3: Assemble The Cat Tree

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Once you have all the materials together its time for the FUN PART! Time to put everything together.

Cut the materials to size

Using your design plan, cut all your materials according to the plan. A handsaw is very effective in cutting dimensional lumber while a table saw will cut sheets of plywood easily. Use sandpaper to smooth the rough edges.

Build the cat tree base

A reliable cat tree should have a sturdy base that can keep the entire structure stable. Such a base should extend out more than any other component of the cat tree for stability. You can make the base by joining together two squares of plywood using glue thereby making the base extra thick. Taller cat trees should typically have more extensive base to maintain stability.

Cover the base using carpet

You may also use a thick upholstery fabric to cover the base. This should be done before attaching the vertical parts. Cut the carpet such that its dimensions will be a few inches larger than those of the base on all sides. Wrap the carpet over the edges of the base and use a staple gun to staple it firmly on the plywood. Ensure that the carpet folds neatly on the underside.

Attach the vertical components to the base

The vertical parts are meant to hold the platforms in place. You can use screws, nails or wood glue to attach these vertical supports to the base.

Flip the base to an upside-down position and then drill the holes you need through the underside at the exact spots where the supports will be. Wrap the supports with carpet. Attach the vertical supports by driving screws or nails into the supports through the holes. You may wrap sisal rope on the vertical supports so that the cat tree also becomes a scratching post.

Attach horizontal perches to the vertical supports

You may use wood screws or glue to attach the plywood perches to the supports. Cover them with carpet or other reliable fabric after attaching them. The carpet also covers the screws ensuring that they don’t remain visible.

Refer to your design for more attachments

Refer to your design as you continue to add components. You may adjust your design based on stability needs, new ideas or discovered mistakes.

Congratulations! Now you know how to build your own cat tree in 3 easy steps.

The next phase is to get out there and do it. You can find cat tree plans right here on our site or you can find others floating around the web.

If you are ready to get started, click the button below. Feel free to ask any questions or add more information in the comments box below.

Click Here To Get Your DIY Cat Tree Plans!!

20 thoughts on “How To Build Your Own Cat Tree In 3 Easy Steps

  • July 3, 2019 at 3:39 pm
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    I love it!  Plans for a homemade cat tree!  That is so cool.  

    Your article inspires me to test my remaining carpentry skills.  I have a cat who would really enjoy a cat tree, and they are so expensive so this will hopefully save me a lot of money.  Building one myself makes more sense.  

    My last cat would have loved a really tall tree, as he was quite the climber.  However, my present cat is an older cat that I “rescued” from a shelter, and he is not much into jumping.  

    I’m guessing I could build him something that isn’t too high, with one of those ramps for him to go up.  Would that be easiest for him?

    You’ve provided us with some great information that is helpful to our kitty companions.

    Reply
    • August 20, 2019 at 10:44 am
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      Hey Fran!

      Thanks for sharing about your kitties with us. They sound absolutely precious!

      Yes, you can add ramps to the cat tree. Some cats will still want to be up high so you can try using this cat tree plan.

      It has ramps going all the way to the top so that even older cats can reach the heights they desire to be. If you want, you can also check out our list of the best cat trees for older cats because it might just be easier for you to buy one.

      Hope this helps 🙂

      Marlinda

      Reply
  • July 3, 2019 at 3:40 pm
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    This is so true and helpful. I am a cat and dog owner and my pets actually like one another. 

    My cat gets on top of everything in my home. Cats keep to themselves and don’t listen to their owner. 

    My cat never listens to me, I mean she’s a cat. They naturally just don’t listen. 

    I should definitely make her a cat tree so she can stop getting on top of everything.

    Thank you so much for this article and all the best.

    Aabidah

    Reply
    • August 20, 2019 at 10:38 am
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      Hey Aabidah! You are so right. Cats don’t listen but they can get along with dogs.

      I think its a lot to do with the mindset of the owner but also how the two are introduced to each other. The breed of the dog has something to do with it too as some have stronger prey drive than others.

      That being said, I have Pitts and Pitt mixes which have a very strong prey drive and are afraid of kittens but I’ve helped them to be comfortable with cats so they cuddle together and everything. 

      Having somewhere to be off the ground is very important for cats. Whether it is made or bought, it must be sturdy and provide your cat with the kind of escape it likes.

      Thanks for sharing and commenting.

      Take care of your beautiful animals 🙂

      Marlinda

      Reply
  • July 3, 2019 at 3:41 pm
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    Having had several cats through my lifetime I know the problems with cats deciding to climb or to use good furniture as scratching posts.

    You have outlined how to go about designing and manufacturing a cat climbing tower and also how to incorporate scratching posts in the structure.

    I would have no problem recommending your site to friends and relatives for them to either self-design and build or to make use of your premade plans. 

    Reply
    • July 24, 2019 at 3:50 pm
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      Hey Derek!

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us. We really value and appreciate this comment.

      Yes, cats can cause quite some damage to furniture and other structures in your home if they aren’t given the proper outlets to scratch. There’s no denying that good quality cat trees are expensive BUT with a little bit of work, you can have custom pieces in your home for a fraction of the cost!

      It’s really great for bonding and improving skills too.

      Thanks for sharing and really appreciate the referrals!

      Marlinda

      Reply
  • July 3, 2019 at 3:53 pm
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    This was a very useful article on how to build your own cat climbing tree. I am interested because I have 2 cats and they would love to have something like this to play on. 

    Right now they spend time outside, but in the heat of the Summer (I am in Dubai) it is really too hot for them out there.

    Of course, they still like to play and get a little crazy, so I am thinking that a cat tree would provide some entertainment for them while keeping the furniture intact. I looked at the plan offer that you have as well, and that looks nice. 

    I would like to have known more details such as materials needed (amounts) and the approximate cost (based on common prices I guess)…

    The scrap piece idea as shown in the video makes sense and that cuts the cost down quite a bit. Essentially you use what you have and just piece it together I guess?  

    That is likely what I will go with, and design the tree based on what I have on hand. Thanks for the article, you have provided me with a new project for the weekend!

    Reply
    • July 24, 2019 at 12:37 pm
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      Hey Dave,

      Thanks for your comment and question. I know your cats will enjoy their new cat tree.

      The cost of the cat tree really depends on the type of wood you use and the size of it. Since the cat tree plan you are referring to is quite large, it will cost more than one like the one shown in the video.

      You can expect to pay about $150ish for the one in the plans. That is compared to a tree that size and quality costing $300+ you can see it is a real saving.

      A smaller one, like the one in the video might cost about $50 or so whereas if you bought one it will still cost you upwards of $100.

      Your location also plays a roll in cost as well. Different places will have different prices.

      Hope this helps and I will add more information into the description.

      Marlinda

      Reply
  • July 3, 2019 at 3:58 pm
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    How awesome is this!  

    An acquaintance of mine gathers street cats at her backyard and shelters them. She really loves cats and would love to read this article. 

    I will share this asap. This is a great project as well to develop new skills hence, practice makes perfect. Personally, trying new things is how I have come to developed my skills. 

    Reply
    • July 24, 2019 at 12:27 pm
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      Hey Linda! Thanks and I’m glad you enjoyed this article. If your friend has any questions or comments please let her know to feel free to leave them under any of our posts.

      Take care 🙂

      Marlinda

      Reply
  • July 3, 2019 at 4:02 pm
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    Nice article: I also have a good experience about it: I figured that it must cost a lot of money to be able to make a cat tree because they sold for a lot of money everywhere I looked. 

    I was surprised when I found a section in the book that showed me ways that I could save money on the materials that I needed.

    Reply
    • July 12, 2019 at 7:45 pm
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      Hey Fabio!

      Thanks for your comment and sharing some of your thoughts with us. Yes, it can be easy to assume that something is expensive by looking at their prices in stores.

      But I like to always remember that anything in a store has a markup because they have to pay for bills to run the store, etc and of course turn a profit at the end of the day.

      Building a tree can get expensive as well, it just depends on the materials that you use and what your end goal is. But regardless, it will always be cheaper to build your own cat tree than to buy one made the same way.

      Take care 🙂

      Marlinda

      Reply
  • July 3, 2019 at 4:14 pm
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    Hello Marlinda,

    I appreciate the detailed instruction on building a cat tree. I have tackled this project before and had mixed results. 

    After reading your post, I’ve determined that I have made two mistakes in the past. The first is not having the proper tools. The gentlemen in the video makes everything look so easy when you have the proper tools. And although I don’t plan of going out and buying a table saw, I might borrow one for my next project.

    Also, I have not built a cat tree with plans before, imagine that. I just kind of went off examples I saw in a pet store. 

    One of the projects I completed was a little off balance and I ended up throwing it out. Anyway, the video was very helpful and I look forward to picking one of your plans to build.

    Glenn

    Reply
    • July 8, 2019 at 4:57 pm
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      Hey Glenn!

      Thanks for your comment and sharing your experience with us. It is so important to have a PROPER plan before you take on ANY DIY project.

      Let me know how it goes and if you have any questions, comments or other feedback please feel free to leave them under this post.

      Thanks and all the best!

      Marlinda

      Reply
  • July 3, 2019 at 4:32 pm
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    Hey

    That is such an interesting article. Sure, there are a lot of different kinds of ready-made cat furnitures but this is completely out of the box. It puts one’s mind to good use too. 

    There will be a lot of mistakes initially but in the end, it would obviously be worth it. I’m excited to try it out myself. 

    I’ll share it with my friends too who are absolutely mad about cats.

    Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • July 12, 2019 at 7:40 pm
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      Hey Shashwat!

      Thanks for your comment and sharing our site with your cat parent friends. We really appreciate it and can’t wait to see your finished product too! 🙂

      Take care and have a good weekend,

      Marlinda

      Reply
  • July 3, 2019 at 4:40 pm
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    What a great idea! I have never seen anything like this. 

    However, it’s been a long time since I owned cats so that probably explains it. The big thing back when I had a cat was making sure you had a scratching post.  

    I finally got one after the cat started digging his nails into the sofa every day.

    Cats are very territorial and often will want to sit in your favorite recliner. For this reason alone, a cat tree would probably be an excellent idea. 

    In time, a cat would probably find the top of the cat tree the best view in the house and make that his new favorite spot.

    I’ll have to send my son a link to this post as they have two cats and this might be perfect for them.

    Reply
    • July 8, 2019 at 3:58 pm
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      Hey Ray,

      Thanks for your comment and sharing your experience with us. Yes, cats will sink their claws into furniture and even appliances if they can’t find something they like to scratch on.

      Cat trees are so readily accessible and every cat owner should have at least one, preferably multiples of the Best Quality Cat Trees of 2019. I agree that when you make a space for your cat(s) to claim, they will feel right at home and leave your spaces alone since they feel like they own their own.
      Thanks for sharing and appreciate the referral! Please let your son know that he can leave any questions, comments or other feedback under any post on this site.

      Take care,

      Marlinda

      Reply
  • July 3, 2019 at 5:00 pm
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    Great article it was very educational. I like the pieces where I learn something. I was wondering what would be an estimated cost of the materials? 

    I wish my cat weren’t so stubborn when it comes to cat furniture. I got her a scratch post with a toy attached, and she ignores it. 

    She climbs over the scratch pole and scratches the window seal behind it. Good price though on the plans.

    Thank you for the article!

    Cheers, and take care of yourself!

    Reply
    • July 3, 2019 at 6:47 pm
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      Thanks and I’m glad you found value in this information. The price really depends on the type of tree you are building, the board you are using and your location.

      I’d say between $50 and $150 depending on the size and quality you are going for.

      Yes, some cats like the sound when their paws/claws hit the glass. I find cats are very easily entertained and tend not to like expensive toys, lol.

      A lot of times trees that come with toys are complete crap, to be honest. Try getting her one from Cat Tree Kings. You also have to pay attention to what and where she likes to be. She just might not like being on the ground and prefer being at the window instead.

      She also might prefer to be hidden away instead of out in the open. I have a cat who finds the best hiding places when it’s her nap time. She makes sure you won’t find her and if you do she finds an even better hiding spot, lol.

      Hope this helps and thanks for your question and feedback 🙂

      Marlinda

      Reply

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