child playing with cat at home. kids and pets.

Cat trees are essential for indoor cats and every cat can benefit from having one in the home. Not only can they provide a safe place for your cat to play and sleep, but they also allow your cat to focus their nail sharpening techniques on the tree, instead of your furniture. Unfortunately, a good cat tree can be costly. If you want to make a simple DIY cat tree, then this guide will walk you through the steps to create a cat tree your cat or cats will love.

Cat Tree Designs

Making your own DIY cat tree allows you to get really creative and design a cat house with your feline in mind. Some cats love to climb, play on cat trees, or get in a good scratch. Others love cat trees that are very high with built-in cubbies where they can hide and nap in peace. Building a DIY cat tree is all about designing something that your cats will love, at a price that’s affordable.

If you don’t want to purchase a cat condo or cat house and you have some basic woodworking skills, then you can make your own wall mounted or stationary cat tree for a fraction of the price of a premade model. The best part about making your own tower is you can customize it based on the size of your cat and their age. You can also design one that will complement the existing décor in your home.

If you don’t have the supplies to build a DIY cat tree, you can purchase all the supplies you need at your local home improvement store.

When you make a cat tree that’s designed specifically with your pet in mind, you can get really creative, especially if you have some design experience.

Space Availability

Using a pen and some paper, sketch out a design for your new cat scratching post. While you’re designing a cat house, make sure you consider the amount of space you have to work with in the home, so you’re sure to design a tree that fits in the available space. Measure the space to ensure the tree will fit.

What’s Your Cat Like?

cat playing with a cat tree

You can design a single level or multilevel DIY cat tree if you have a cat that loves to climb. A single level tower or cat condo will be a good choice if you have a feline that loves to curl up and sleep up high.

Skill Level

If you don’t have much experience with this type of project, keep this in mind when you’re designing a cat house or wall mounted cat tower. If you have decent woodworking skills, then this DIY project should be a cinch. If you’re a beginner, try to keep the design basic.

Getting Started

Once you have the design completed, make a list of the tools and materials you’ll need. The supplies you’ll need for your project will depend on the design you’ve created. For most designs, plywood for the perches and base will work just fine. You can use dimensional lumber or PVC pipes for the supports.

Supplies List

Below, you’ll find a list of tools and supplies that you’ll need to make a cat tree:

  • Strong adhesive or wood glue
  • Carpet knife or utility knife
  • Handsaw or table saw
  • Wood screws
  • PVC pipes or dimensional lumber
  • Sisal rope
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Electric drill
  • Fabric of your choice
  • Extra material for platforms

Getting Started

cat on top of a cat tree

Based on your measurements, the first step is cutting all the pieces of lumber and plywood. Be sure you cut the exact measurements so you don’t run into any problems when you’re assembling the DIY house. This will also prevent you from wasting materials, if you have to go back and cut more lumber.

Next, you can use a handsaw or table saw to cut the materials for the perches, scratching post base, and any cubbies.

Building the DIY Cat Tree Base

The base of the tree must be very sturdy, especially if you have larger cats or cats that play and climb aggressively. A weak, poorly constructed base can cause the tree to tip over when your cat is climbing. Additionally, a stronger base can support the perches, multiple levels, and built-in cat houses. The base should be wider than the perches, platforms, and other components. For a sturdier, thicker base, glue together a couple of pieces of plywood.

A taller tree should always have a larger base.

Cover the Cat Tower Base

A covered base will look more aesthetically pleasing if you cover it with some type of thick fabric or carpet. This will also make the cat tree’s base more comfortable for your cat.

To attach the fabric or carpet, start by cutting out a piece that’s bigger than the base. Next, you’ll wrap it over the base and use a heavy-duty stapler gun to secure the material.

Add Supports

The next thing you need to do is screw in the vertical PVC supports. These supports should be attached to the tree’s base. A vertical PVC support stabilizes any perches and each platform.

The supports can be attached using wood glue, wood screws, nails, or any type of strong adhesive. Before you add the supports, cover them with carpet, sisal rope, or fabric. Doing this step prior to attaching the supports will make this step much easier compared to covering them after they have already been secured to the base.

Sisal Rope

If you want the kitty tree to also serve as a cat scratching post, you can wrap sisal rope around the posts. This rope is the perfect material for scratching. The ends of the rope can be secured with wire brads or staples. Avoid leaving the ends visible since your cat will claw at it, which can cause it to unravel.

Attach Perches & Horizontal Platforms to the Cat Condo

Now, it’s time to attach perches or horizontal platforms to the supports. Both can be made out of plywood and should be attached with screws. To beef up the security and stability of the platforms you can use wood glue.

Once they have been attached, cover them with fabric or carpet. This is done to cover up any screws.

Add Some Cushions for Kitty to Relax On

A DIY cat tree is a place for scratching, climbing, and exploring. It’s also a nice high place that gives your cat some privacy for a nice afternoon nap. If you want to encourage your cat to use their cat tree more, especially for nap time, make sure you add some comfortable cushions and place them inside any cubbies or you can secure them on one or two of the platforms near the top of the tree.

Finishing Touches

cat sleeping on a cat tree

When you’re done with all of these steps, you can add more elements to your design and make any adjustments needed. Some cat owners will add hanging accessories and toys, which will make the tree more attractive to your cat and more enjoyable, especially if you have younger cats that love to play. Toys will encourage your playful cats to use the tree and can provide hours of mental stimulation and exercise.


If you’re building a larger DIY cat tree for bigger felines or multiple cats in the home, then you’ll need to create a supplies list and compare that to the price of a premade cat tree. Larger DIY trees will obviously cost you more in terms of lumber, carpet or fabric covering, and power tools, if you don’t have them. Compare the cost of the materials to that of a premade cat tree. You may find that buying a premade cat tree is more affordable than a DIY cat tree.

Other Building Tips

  • When you’re building a cat tree or tower, make sure you focus on the size and design of the base. The wider the base is, the more stable the tree will be. As you start building upward, keep testing the cat tree’s stability by shaking the tree.
  • If you’re adding some platforms at different levels, you’ll need to position them carefully, so that they balance out.
  • If you’re on a tight budget, you can use repurposed wood, as long as it’s free from paint, screws, or nails.
  • For cats of all sizes, a cat tree will be more comfortable if the cat is able to easily access the levels in a stair-step design. You can arrange the levels from the shortest levels to the tallest, so it’s easier for a cat to climb.
  • If you decide to cover the cat tree with carpet, you should keep in mind that carpet tends to wear out very quickly and can be difficult to replace.
  • The size of the DIY cat tree is important to consider, especially if you’re having a hard time determining which room to put it in. Like any piece of furniture in the home, you’ll need to measure ahead of time to ensure you have the space for the design you want to use. You should also measure the height of your ceiling if you’re building a taller DIY cat tree for felines who love to climb.
  • Most felines can use any size of DIY cat tree. However, if you have a cat that’s over twenty pounds, or you have more than one cat in the home, then you’re going to need a much larger cat tree. Larger trees can easily distribute weight to prevent the tree from getting damaged or tipping over.

Purchasing a Premade Cat Tree

premade cat tree

If your attempt at making a DIY cat tree was unsuccessful, then there are affordable trees for large cats available. These trees are designed with larger cats in mind, which means they offer a larger, more stable design. There are also many different types, styles, and designs available to choose from, so you can easily find a cat tree that works for your specific feline, whether they’re a small tabby or a large maine coon. To learn more, click here.

Final Thoughts

Building your own cat tree can be a fun project for the family, especially if you’ve come up with a creative design that your cats will love.

Building a DIY cat tree can be a great solution for the pet owner on a tight budget, or those who have basic woodworking skills and want to create a custom piece for their feline. However, if you don’t have any experience with this type of project, then you may end up with a DIY cat tree that’s unstable or a pile of wood hammered together that sort of looks like a cat tree. There’s no shame in purchasing a premade cat tree, especially if you can find a great deal on a cat tree your feline will love.