Our fuzzy tabby cat Sherry joined our family in the summer of 2014. We of course purchased a bunch of supplies, including cat toys that she never played with (she prefers the girls’ outgrown socks) and cat beds she never sleeps in (she prefers human beds). The one thing we did make for her that she still loves to this day is our DIY cat tree, that my husband made. It’s drilled into the wall next to the sliding glass door in a corner of our dining room. We love the minimal look, and she loves the different levels, being able to look outside off the top perch, and the handy (I mean, paw-y) scratching post at the bottom. It has held up very well for the past two and half years and I’ve finally written up a little how-to if you’d like to make one for your kitty. Here’s how to make a simple inexpensive DIY cat tree.
Simple Inexpensive DIY Cat Tree
- One 1 inch x 6 inch x 8 feet whitewood common board
- From this, cut:
- (A) one 60-inch piece (main support piece)
- (B) one 8-inch piece (bottom support piece)
- From this, cut:
- One 1 inch x 8 inch x 8 feet whitewood common board
- From this, cut:
- (C) two 16-inch pieces (middle and lowest shelves)
- (D) one 19-inch piece (top shelf)
- (E) three 4.5-inch pieces (shelf support pieces)
- From this, cut:
- (F) One 2×4, cut to 15 inches (for scratching post)
Additional Supplies and Tools:
- Staple gun
- Carpet remnants
- Sisal rope
- Kreg Jig Pocket Hole System (affiliate link)
- 1.25 inch screws
To help you visualize the wood pieces you’ll need for this DIY Cat Tree, here’s a little diagram referring to the finished cat tree and the corresponding pieces to which I’ve referred in the supply list.
- You may adjust the wood measurements to fit your home. We based ours on my height (so I could grab Sherry off the top shelf when needed) and the location of wall studs by the window (the top shelf serves as an observation deck out the window, which is also why the tallest shelf is longer than the two lower ones). We also had a light switch and an electrical outlet to work around.
- You can paint or stain the wood if you like, but we left ours bare.
- My husband cut all of the wood down to size at home, but you can have the hardware store do it for you.
I’m so sorry that I don’t have actual photos of the process. I did take some pictures back then, but I misplaced the memory card. So between my husband and I (plus some up-close pictures of the finished piece), I’ve put together a how-to. Also, this tutorial assumes you know how to use a drill and a pocket hole jig.
First, create pocket holes in the three shelf support pieces (E): three holes along the long edge, and two holes along the short edge.
Create pocket holes in the Main Support Piece along one short edge, on the underside (so the pocket holes will be against the wall). It was hard to get a picture of this, so I’ve created a little diagram for you.
Determine where you’d like your shelves to be on your main support piece. The lowest shelf is 15 inches from the bottom support piece. The middle shelf is about 18 inches from the lowest shelf, and the highest shelf is also about 18 inches from the middle shelf. As mentioned, you can adjust this to fit your space.
Cover the three shelves with carpet remnants. You can wrap them like a present, but we just wrapped two pieces to cover the sides and one piece to cover the top, bottom, and front. Use a staple gun to secure. In the pic below, you can see how the side edge looks. While the raw edge of the carpet is noticeable, it’s held up just fine.
Now to assemble the cat tree! First, start with the bottom support piece (B). Drill the bottom support piece through the two pocket holes you created to one short edge of the main support piece (A) . The pocket holes should be facing the back so they’ll be hidden against the wall.
Place one shelf support piece to the left edge of the main support piece.
The long edge of the shelf support piece (E) should be up against the shelf (with 3 pocket holes). The short edge (with 2 pocket holes) should be against the main support piece (A). Screw in two screws through the pocket holes to attach the shelf support piece to the main support piece. Then, place the lower shelf (D) on top of the shelf support piece (A), lining up the short edge of the shelf with the right side of the main support piece. Screw in three screws through the pocket holes up into the shelf, through the carpet.
Repeat with the middle and top shelves, alternating the direction they stick out (so you’d also alternate the edge along which you’d drill the support pieces). I had all of the shelf support pocket holes facing to the right (i.e. facing the wall adjacent wall of the dining room) so they weren’t visible unless you stood in the corner.
Now for the scratching post. Create two pocket holes at both ends of the 2×4, as shown in the diagram.
Then, turn the 2×4 so the 2-inch side is facing out. Insert the 2×4 with the pocket holes facing the right, in between the bottom support piece (B) and the lower shelf (D). Line up the 2×4 along the right edge of the main support piece (A). Screw in the 2×4 to the bottom of the lowest shelf through the carpet. Screw in the 2×4 into the bottom support piece. Wrap the 2×4 with a generous amount of sisal rope, securing the ends with a staple gun.
All that’s left is to drill it to the wall into your wall stud in several places. The cat tree rests on top of the baseboard. As mentioned, we had to work around a light switch, an electrical outlet, and we also wanted the top shelf to be as close to the window as possible so Sherry could observe the delicious birdies and squirrels outside, which is why it’s slightly longer than the lower two shelves.
A side view.
Here’s Sherry on her new cat tree in 2014, shortly after she joined our family.
And here’s a more recent picture (2017), still loving her cat tree. We’ve since painted over the gross semi-gloss egg yolk color of the wall. It was easy to unscrew the cat tree from the wall and screw it back in again. And, Sherry is much fluffier now. I mean in terms of fur, not anything else!
I hope this DIY Cat Tree tutorial was clear enough, even though I don’t have pictures of the process. Just let me know if you have any questions.
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