How To Make Your Own Cat Tower or Cat Tree

Updated on February 6, 2016

Want to buy a really HUGE Cat Tree? Make or buy your own huge Cat Tree?

Do you want to buy a really huge cat tree or are they a little expensive right now? If so, if you adore your cat, why not make your own cat tree or scratching post? Even with our very limited carpentry skills, we did. Cat trees are so expensive, and not necessarily longer lasting, so if you build your own cat tower you could be doing yourself a favor in the long run and the cats will enjoy the fruits of your labour for years to come. However, if this seems too difficult, there are some really huge cat trees on sale here too.

Of cats and cat towers!

Do you know how to build your own cat condo?

My cats have two cat towers and two scratching posts. One scratching post is wall mounted and they never show interest in it. One is a heart shaped pink fluffy thing which keeps Miss Amber content. (The pink fluffy things has recently been retired and replaced with a 7 foot cat tower - due to simple wear and tear!) The other two are more robust. Do you know how to build your own cat condo? Read on to find out!

The Perfect Cat Tree - Is Kitty Mansions the Perfect Huge Cat Tree?

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Why we made our own huge cat tower

Big huge cat trees need not be expensive...

About twenty years ago when we were poor as church mice we saw cat towers on sale and they were out of our range. We decided to build our own cat tree. We designed and constructed a cat tree that for a time also doubled as a telephone table while the moggies were content with the lower decks. Then the Persians arrived and evicted the phone!

It seemed a kind thing to do to buy them the best that we could afford and so we did. We took it home and assembled it - a five foot palace complete with cave. Four years later and it was in shreds whilst home made Cat Palace was still as good as ever!

Both were and still are equally popular, but Cat Palace number 2 needs replacing pretty soon whilst our twenty year old monster needs only "rewinding" with sisal rope. Whilst we decide whether we would rather replace expensively at four year intervals or build another D.I.Y. Palace at the cost of a few days labour and some cheap builders yard items, I decided to write a lens about how to make your own homemade cat tree. If you want to make your own cat condo, this lens may be a good place to start looking for ideas about materials and design.

If you lack the confidence to make your own huge cat tree, you might be tempted by the Kitty Mansions Cat Tree here. My cats would just love this! If you are VERY clever, you might make one like it....

Make your own homemade cat tree - or - Four Years Wear By Tiny Feet! - Cat towers need to be built to last

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Carpetting has been torn by enthusiastic climbing on this side rather than scratching and you can see the basic cardboard tubing used in construction. The cat now has to leap higher to climb this section and can lose his footing.The sisal matting is now held in only by its plastic strip. Without a cat tree, this could be your furniture!Tiny Persian feet did this! Even so, the cat tower remains a firm favourite and will have to be replaced gradually!
Carpetting has been torn by enthusiastic climbing on this side rather than scratching and you can see the basic cardboard tubing used in construction. The cat now has to leap higher to climb this section and can lose his footing.
Carpetting has been torn by enthusiastic climbing on this side rather than scratching and you can see the basic cardboard tubing used in construction. The cat now has to leap higher to climb this section and can lose his footing.
The sisal matting is now held in only by its plastic strip. Without a cat tree, this could be your furniture!
The sisal matting is now held in only by its plastic strip. Without a cat tree, this could be your furniture!
Tiny Persian feet did this! Even so, the cat tower remains a firm favourite and will have to be replaced gradually!
Tiny Persian feet did this! Even so, the cat tower remains a firm favourite and will have to be replaced gradually!

What Do I Need To Make My Own Homemade Cat Tree?

Make your own cat condo

Well, it would be best of all to make it from natural tree wood and maybe recycled flat pack wood furniture with old carpet.


That would be the cheapest and most cat friendly option, but there are not many saplings being hewn down around the City of Lincoln so we may have to resort to buying materials. Keep your options open of course. We hope you will modify our simple design according to what is available. In any case, making your own cat tower is fun and a lot cheaper than buying a cat tree from a store.

Basically, we have a few suggestions we think will work:

Two centimeter (one inch) thick mdf or blockboard is probably easiest for the stages. A reasonable sized piece will do the base and stages 1 and 2.

We used a thick plywood board for the top platform. A recycled cupboard door or an untreated decking tile would serve as well.

Untreated landscape posts or thicker lengths of untreated kiln dried pine will serve for legs.

For that added luxury, we cut up an old Axminster to upholster the base and stages. Any natural carpet would do. Just cut it larger than the bases so you can trim and fold it in neatly underneath and tack it on with clout nails, carpet or upholstery tacks.

For the scratching posts, one or several posts can be would with very tight rings of sisal rope. Six millimeter thick is ideal.

Add to that a couple of safe cuphooks from which toys can be suspended, and some multi-purpose thick long screws and you have what you need.

I keep stressing untreated and natural. Remember your cat is going to spend many happy hours shredding your creation and artificial fibres could hurt his feet and cause possible respiratory problems. Fungicides, timber treatments and creosote are toxic to felines and might kill him.

KEEP EVERYTHING NATURAL.

Materials You Could Use - (GBP means Pounds Sterling)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fence posts with rounded edges run in at about GBP6 each.Landscaping poles could be used as legs. The larger was about GBP7 and the shorter about GBP4.A sheet of mdf this size will serve for base and stages 1 and 2. Cost approximately GBP6.Shows thickness of mdf board to be approximately one inch. This gives weight and stability to the tower.Using oblong section kiln dried timber is a cheaper option at GBP3-GBP5 depending on length.Some substantial woodscrews will be needed at about GBP3 a packet.Clout nails are just as good as upholstery pins for the carpet. They are short and have large heads to retain the material.Old carpet makes a great covering for the 3 stages and base. Look out for old woven wool rugs from neighbours or check out Freecycle if you have none yourself.More carpet.... just liked the pattern :)Carpet tacks run at about GBP3 per pack too.
Fence posts with rounded edges run in at about GBP6 each.
Fence posts with rounded edges run in at about GBP6 each.
Landscaping poles could be used as legs. The larger was about GBP7 and the shorter about GBP4.
Landscaping poles could be used as legs. The larger was about GBP7 and the shorter about GBP4.
A sheet of mdf this size will serve for base and stages 1 and 2. Cost approximately GBP6.
A sheet of mdf this size will serve for base and stages 1 and 2. Cost approximately GBP6.
Shows thickness of mdf board to be approximately one inch. This gives weight and stability to the tower.
Shows thickness of mdf board to be approximately one inch. This gives weight and stability to the tower.
Using oblong section kiln dried timber is a cheaper option at GBP3-GBP5 depending on length.
Using oblong section kiln dried timber is a cheaper option at GBP3-GBP5 depending on length.
Some substantial woodscrews will be needed at about GBP3 a packet.
Some substantial woodscrews will be needed at about GBP3 a packet.
Clout nails are just as good as upholstery pins for the carpet. They are short and have large heads to retain the material.
Clout nails are just as good as upholstery pins for the carpet. They are short and have large heads to retain the material.
Old carpet makes a great covering for the 3 stages and base. Look out for old woven wool rugs from neighbours or check out Freecycle if you have none yourself.
Old carpet makes a great covering for the 3 stages and base. Look out for old woven wool rugs from neighbours or check out Freecycle if you have none yourself.
More carpet.... just liked the pattern :)
More carpet.... just liked the pattern :)
Carpet tacks run at about GBP3 per pack too.
Carpet tacks run at about GBP3 per pack too.

A Few Tips

DIY Cat Furniture

Unlike the more flimsy plastic and cardboard tube commercial cat towers, this one's heavy timbers and thick mdf make it very stable indeed.

Ask for the mdf to be cut in store if possible. Most stores are used to making three free cuts for customers. You will have to trim stage 1 to fit in special notches between the poles. When you cut mdf, please do wear a mask as the dust is toxic. Keep cats WELL AWAY!

Before construction, you will need to upholster the stages with carpet. Just cut it three inches proud of the base dimensions, mitre the corners by cutting small sections out with a Stanley knife, then fit and fix with upholstery nails, clout nails or carpet tacks on the underside of each stage. Use a smaller offcut of mdf, or thick plywood, blockboard or an old cupboard door for the top stage. This will be fitted last, so attach its support pole before you upholster it, then the carpet will cover the screw heads.

Posts will need winding tightly with sisal rope before construction! First cut notches deep enough and wide enough to safely seat the upholstered stage 1. Put temporary wedges into these shelf notches.


We chose to cover all posts for our cats and the result was a longer lasting scratching post as wear was more widely distributed! Sisal rope is cheap on ebay. I checked out 30 meters of 6 millimeter thick rope at under £5 plus £4 post and packing.

Tie it, tuck it and wind over and over the tucked part a little like you might wind a guitar string. Wind all the way along as tightly and close together as you can. This is the most important bit to get right for your cat!

Once you have all the parts, you can begin to assemble your cat tower by drilling holes and screwing the base and stage 2 to the legs. Slide stage 1 into place. If you have heavy cats, you could add an extra support leg between the base and stage 1 otherwise stage 1 may rock a little when the jump up. Stage 2 gets great stability from the rigidity the notched legs and stage 1 contribute.

Complete the top platform, drill and screw in place from beneath.

You can add a cave, a hammock or hooks for toys as you wish.

The cost is approximately £30 if you buy new materials, plus your labour of course. A new cat tower could cost anything between twice and ten times the amount. It is hard work, but you may not have to replace it as quickly! The choice is yours!

Build A Cat Tower? - Where Do I Start?

Basic carpentry books for the beginner - you might just find building a cat tree leads on to other things!

Ultimately The Decision Is Yours....

Time is money, so they say, and it does take time as well as a little effort and money to make your own Cat Palace. I am thinking very seriously about restringing the old one, maybe adding an extension module or two. The question is always time.... The decision ultimately comes down to time rather than money as it was all those years ago. However at least we know it can be done!

I find it is obviously easier to buy the new Cat Palace's than make my own (having done both) but I am disappointed by the flimsy construction and poor balance of the last expensive commercial tower I bought. Perhaps you agree - or disagree - what do you think!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

    Ever Made A Homemade Cat Tower? - We have made our own homemade cat tree

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      • profile image

        Judy 

        9 months ago

        I need to build a cat tree

      • sierradawn lm profile image

        sierradawn lm 

        4 years ago

        Cat towers are essential to the indoor cat. Just ask any indoor cat! My 20 pound Ragdolls terrorize and destroy their towers faster than I can replace them.

      • sierradawn lm profile image

        sierradawn lm 

        4 years ago

        My Ragdoll cats are really big and destroy their cat towers so fast that I can barely keep up with them. When I finally have to drag their dilapidated towers out to the trash they cling to them for dear life, refusing to let them go. So I have to have a new one ready for them. It is high time for me to build a longer lasting home made one. Your lens is a god-send!

      • profile image

        omarasl 

        5 years ago

        thanks a lot for these interesting and useful information , I will try it !!!

      • minpinmojo76 profile image

        minpinmojo76 

        5 years ago

        Great lens. I used to have a homemade cat tower made by my neighbor, but got rid of it to make more room. I have since moved to a larger location and now need a new one haha.

      • ddbdanielle profile image

        ddbdanielle 

        5 years ago

        Thanks very interesting, I bought my cat a small plastic tower and it breaks apart very easy. These look very nice.

      • profile image

        mhamer89 

        5 years ago

        My wife is a huge cat lover and no doubt once she see's this i'll have to make one of these thanks a lot haha nah just joking grat page

        If anyone would like to check out my first ever lens about Britax Pinnacle 90 Booster seat check it out here.

        Pinnacle 90 booster seat review

        Thanks

      • MeAndMyGuitar LM profile image

        MeAndMyGuitar LM 

        5 years ago

        Wow great post, I had a Bengal before. A male. Was a beauty ! I don't have him anymore because was very stubborn and always asking to go outside. I gave him to my sister. Great lens for the cat tower.

        www.buyguitaronline.org

      • KathyZ1 profile image

        KathyZ1 

        5 years ago

        Great lens. Thanks for your sharing!

      • profile image

        tech-hunter 

        5 years ago

        Interesting tips to build the cat tower, thanks.

      • joyfuldesigns lm profile image

        joyfuldesigns lm 

        5 years ago

        No I haven't made a cat tower, but you make it look tempting to try. Great lens! I love that kitty mansion.

      • profile image

        shabi9764 

        5 years ago

        grate lens for cat tree lovers,well written.

      • ValerieJoy profile image

        Valerie Smith 

        5 years ago from New Zealand

        I've never made a Cat Tower even though I have two cats. I'm sure they would have loved one each (they're not keen on sharing) when they were young. They are 13 years old now and not so active. Their main pleasure is keeping me company by snoozing in my office while I work!

      • favored profile image

        Fay Favored 

        5 years ago from USA

        Not, but not for lack of wanting to ...

      • janey126 profile image

        janey126 

        5 years ago

        Wow what a great info and lens! Just awesome!

      • profile image

        Quaileo 

        5 years ago

        I used to have cats that would destroy their towers, so this would have been really handy before, however I have a friend who's a first time cat owner and they also really like making things so this will be perfect. I must say some of those towers are really inventive, very clever.

      • LisaMarieGabriel profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa Marie Gabriel 

        5 years ago from United Kingdom

        @motorpurrr: Cats don't seem to mind that so much :)

      • FionaWalters profile image

        FionaWalters 

        5 years ago

        I know somebody who will absolutely love and cherish this information. Thanks.

      • Socialpro54 LM profile image

        Socialpro54 LM 

        5 years ago

        i don't have a cat, but great info!

      • profile image

        lmoser 

        5 years ago

        My cats used to sharpen their claws on my couch until I purchased a cat tower. If I ever need one again, I will definitely make one. Thanks.

      • davery77 profile image

        davery77 

        5 years ago

        Cat towers are great but I don't like how they can get really expensive. I'll definitely consider making one myself next time.

      • Cari Kay 11 profile image

        Kay 

        5 years ago

        We found a great deal on a tall 'kitty tree' on Amazon. Our cat loves it!

      • kiwikitkat profile image

        kiwikitkat 

        5 years ago

        I love cats and have one at the moment. She doesn't have a cat tower, but this is such a great idea.

      • profile image

        GuitarNY 

        5 years ago

        Great lens!. I never made a cat tower.

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        5 years ago

        I think cat towers are very handy - especially if you and your cat live in an apartment.

      • Painxxto profile image

        Painxxto 

        5 years ago

        I love cats. I've had 2 of them and would loved to have something like this.

      • profile image

        electrolion 

        5 years ago

        My cat has a tall tower and he runs to the top of it every time someone rings the doorbell. Go figure. Great lens. I absolutely LOVE cats!

      • profile image

        triley76 

        5 years ago

        Cool, really awesome ... I've wanted to get something like this for my cats, but can't spend loads of money. This gives me some good ideas.

      • epcws79 profile image

        epcws79 

        5 years ago

        Great job with this lens, i'm passing this info to some friends that love cats.

        Thanks

      • DougB101 profile image

        DougB101 

        5 years ago

        Great ideas. It is much more fun to build your own stuff rather than buy, My son built a structure for his cats and they used to have a lot of fun with it.

      • jastreb profile image

        jastreb 

        5 years ago

        Great lens. I will send this link to my friends who have cats, really awesome idea and the instructions are fantastic;)

      • gadifi lm profile image

        gadifi lm 

        5 years ago

        Great lens and it was done quite well as the large print helps out very good ---thanks again

      • dakadare profile image

        dakadare 

        5 years ago

        Excellent work! Thanks

      • Deannamay LM profile image

        Deannamay LM 

        5 years ago

        Good ideas. But I don't think I could make one. Not very handy.

      • martie01 lm profile image

        martie01 lm 

        5 years ago

        Great information here. I just bought my daughters cat a tree from the store, but will try you instructions. thanks for opening my eyes here.

      • endamclarnon profile image

        Enda McLarnon 

        5 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

        Nice work. I have sent this url to my daughter as she was asking me about making one of these for her a few weeks back. Maybe this will inspire her to get me the stuff that I need.

      • happy-birthday profile image

        Birthday Wishes 

        5 years ago from Here

        I agree! Very nice lens with lots of good hints and tips to make your own cat tower or cat tree!

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        5 years ago

        Good lens, wish I had read something like this when I did my first attempt on a cat house a few years ago. Looked nothing like this and while appreciated by Mason it was crap lol I admit it!!

      • Alan Katz profile image

        Alan Katz 

        5 years ago from Florida

        What an interesting lens. I don't have a cat but enjoy watching my neighbor cat play in the home cat tree.

      • imagelist lm profile image

        imagelist lm 

        5 years ago

        Great lens with valuable info...

      • takkhisa profile image

        Takkhis 

        5 years ago

        I don't have cat but my granny has it, I want show this lens to my granny :)

      • aksem profile image

        aksem 

        5 years ago

        My cat prefers to use my chair for sharpening her claws. It seems that she too appreciates her two-storeyed cat's house to scratch it. Since our cat is a privileged member of the family, then I have to endure.

      • LisaMarieGabriel profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa Marie Gabriel 

        5 years ago from United Kingdom

        @anonymous: Thanks Suzie. I must say the Leopet tower is a firm favorite, but we keep coming back to that sturdy homemade job! :)

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        5 years ago

        I was here a couple years ago and glad to see your homemade cat tower doing so well...that means there are many happy cats out there with huge towers....purr-fect! :)

      • WriterJanis2 profile image

        WriterJanis2 

        5 years ago

        I think it's great if you can make your own.

      • profile image

        lionmom100 

        5 years ago

        We have a really nice pyramid cat tower with a top tray for our cats. It is now ready to reupholster...again. We reward our scratching posts with sisal rope.

      • profile image

        dellgirl 

        5 years ago

        Congratulations on getting the Purple Star for this really beautiful lens!

        And, Congratulations on making the latest 'MonsterBoard: SquidAngel 1,000!! Last updated Friday February 15, 2013 02:35:17 AM EST. Awesome-arriffic!!! ~Blessed~

      • profile image

        anitabreeze 

        5 years ago

        I have a really large one for my 3 cats, its about 4 years old and needs lots of repairs. I might get my 15 yr old son to make one now, he is quite handy!

      • Aibrean82 profile image

        Aibrean82 

        5 years ago

        Would be good to be able to make our own, since we don't have room for a big one. If we could make a custom tree we could make it to fit the room. Great idea!

      • LiteraryMind profile image

        Ellen Gregory 

        5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        My Dad made my cat's a tower. The cat's love them whether they are home made or store bought.

      • PapaKork profile image

        PapaKork 

        5 years ago

        I definitely need to make one of these for my cat asap! Thank for all the great tips!

      • norma-holt profile image

        norma-holt 

        5 years ago

        You are right. One of my cat trees collapsed and it was mainly supported by cardboard walls on the bottom. I paid over $110 for it. I did get my money back but that is not the point. Great lens featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2013 and also on Care for Kittens. Hugs

      • JJGJJG profile image

        JJGJJG 

        5 years ago

        That's great advice, to keep the materials natural. It's no fun when your pet/family member is sick.

      • Stephanie36 profile image

        Stephanie 

        5 years ago from Canada

        I love cat trees :) Fantastic lens!!

      • vineliner57 profile image

        Hal Gall 

        6 years ago from Bloomington, IN

        Don't know what we would do without our car tower. Probably have to buy new furniture every year or so due to scratching!

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

        I don't have a cat but this is good for family members who have.

      • JBradshaw profile image

        JBradshaw 

        6 years ago

        My wife's cats are always scratching up the furniture and they never actually use the towers we buy.. Maybe i should build one and make it look like my couch. I'm sure they would use it then. Great Lens.

      • mariaamoroso profile image

        irenemaria 

        6 years ago from Sweden

        For years I had a Cat Hotel! Every cat had its own tree to climb!

      • Scarlettohairy profile image

        Peggy Hazelwood 

        6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

        I haven't made a cat tower but have had one in the past. Scarlett now has a log mounted on a stand that she loves to scratch. These are all great!

      • Dressage Husband profile image

        Stephen J Parkin 

        6 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

        It seems to me that a home made cat tower is best, but better still is a few hundred fence posts and trees. Our cat climbs and scratches to his hearts content on each of them in turn. No problems with furniture, but then he is Robin the Barn Cat and buying a horse farm is not an affordable option for most people!

        I loved your lens and ideas and Robin sez hummade treez iz bst!

      • JHstudios profile image

        JHstudios 

        6 years ago

        My wife and I have three cats we love very much. A friend of mine built us a cat condo that's about 7 ft tall. I asked him how he could make it for me so cheap and he told me that he dumpster dove for scrap wood at a construction site and scrap carpet from a carpet store. I thought he was kidding-- I guess he wasn't! LOL The cats love it!

      • profile image

        prairierprincess 

        6 years ago

        This is lovely! I am going to keep this mind for our three cats. We have cat tree we bought from Zellers and it works well but eventually I would like to get something new, and building one would be great!

      • GramaBarb profile image

        GramaBarb 

        6 years ago from Vancouver

        Great lens! Love cats too!

      • savateuse profile image

        savateuse 

        6 years ago

        Did you use my missing socks to make a cat tower? I just told the squidquest that you did ;o)

      • ajgodinho profile image

        Anthony Godinho 

        7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

        This is a unique lens on cat towers. I think making your own cat tower is a great idea. Not only is it customized the way you want it, but you put in your heart and soul into it for the cat(s) that you love so much. Well done...blessings! :)

      • Churchmouse LM profile image

        Churchmouse LM 

        7 years ago

        Excellent - I agree that the commercial trees are so expensive - and my feeble attempts to build one have never stood the test of paws and tie. You have given me hope!

      • Joyce Mann profile image

        Joyce T. Mann 

        7 years ago from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA

        My kitty loves sitting in the window sills on the second floor. That seems to work fine!

      • profile image

        mockingbird999 

        7 years ago

        I could use one of these for my cat. She seems to think the couch is hers to scratch right now.

      • jackieb99 profile image

        jackieb99 

        7 years ago

        I love the idea, and if I hadn't just bought my own deluxe cat tower, I'd be all over this!

      • LongShot-X profile image

        LongShot-X 

        7 years ago

        I have a 17 y/o cat - he's blind but still gets around. probably wouldn't bother with a cat post at his age :)

      • SilmarwenLinwelin profile image

        SilmarwenLinwelin 

        7 years ago

        I'm planning to build one for my cats and this lens of yours is definitely helpful!

      • ColorPetGifts profile image

        ColorPetGifts 

        7 years ago

        Awesome lens on building your own cat stand - squid angel blessed -:)

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        7 years ago

        I like how you emphasize the use of natural, untreated wood...if children can't used treated wood play sets, it standst o reason that our cats could be harmed to. NIcely done.

      • profile image

        NYThroughTheLens 

        7 years ago

        The last time I purchased a designated cat tree for my two little menaces (I say this lovingly :) ), they largely ignored it. They seem to love random boxes more than anything. I would love to make a cat tree but I fear that the time and energy spent will be mostly disregarded by them.

      • VladimirCat profile image

        Vladimir 

        8 years ago from Australia

        I'd be happy with a pink fluffy thing

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        8 years ago

        My cats have 3 trees to play in ... Peace Through New Energy

      • FlynntheCat1 profile image

        FlynntheCat1 

        8 years ago

        arrgh, we SO need one of these! God lens, lensrolled to my Unadulterated Cat one!

      • Rachel Field profile image

        Rachel Field 

        9 years ago

        This is an awesome idea and something I'll be doing if I'm ever lucky enough to have a cat stay with me :)

      • profile image

        motorpurrr 

        9 years ago

        It's so beautiful and helpful. I once made a tall tree, it was a bit tilty but the cats were fine with it. Thank you!

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