DIY Cat Tree

7:30:00 AM

Why oh why are there so many uninspired designs for pet accessories? I know, #firstworldproblems. But for real, cat trees are ugly. I have searched every pet store in my area, and every website on the internet and all I could find are these bulky monstrosities covered in dreary brownish carpet. No thanks.

But the cat has an instinctual need to climb, and I have an instinctual need to rescue my sofa from sharp claws. So, in a particularly inspired moment, the solution to my dilemma became clear. Duh. Make a cat tree! Might as well put that stocked-up toolbox to use, right?

The first step of my process was to find some inspiration. After some careful googling, I tracked down this design. I was drawn to its simplicity, both in terms of aesthetics and execution.
With a design idea based loosely on my inspiration photo, I went to Lowe's to chat with the fellows in the lumber section. They helped me finalize my design, simplify the measurements, and source my materials. Here's what I came up with:




I had my new friends at the hardware store cut 6 1x1 ft squares and 3 2x2 ft squares from the OSB sheet. The plan was to use the 1x1 ft squares to build the elevated platforms & box and stack the 2x2 ft squares to make a sturdy base for the tree.

I also had the hardware guys cut down the 2x4 beams at varying heights to support the platforms. I chose 2 ft, 3 ft, and 5 ft lengths for the vertical supports and 10.25 inch and 14.25 inch horizontal supports.


1. Stack three 2x2 ft squares, using wood glue between each layer to bond the squares together. Make sure to apply wood glue around edges and in the center of the boards. Allow to dry overnight, clamped together or weighed down with heavy objects.

2. Carefully sand each length of 2x4 beam to smooth edges and remove splinters.

3. Attach platform pieces to vertical support pieces. To do this, place the 2x4 in the center of the 1x1 platform and trace around the edges. This will be the underside of the platform. Draw a line down the short side of the tracing, dividing the tracing into two equal halves (refer to sketch above). Using a bit slightly smaller than your screws, drill two pilot holes, one in the center of each half. Be sure to drill pilot holes all the way through the platform. Flip the platform over so that the unmarked side of the platform is on the top. Realign the tracing on the underside to the 2x4. Locate pilot holes on platform and attach platform to 2x4 using 3" wood screws. Repeat for all platforms.

4. Upholster each platform using 1-2 layers of batting and 1 layer of covering material (here, sherpa or bath rug).

To upholster, cut a square of batting and bath rug approximately 3 inches wider than the platform on all sides. Place platform upside down on center of fabric and batting squares. Cut out each corner of fabric and batting so that edges do not overlap when folded over to the underside of the platform. Using staple gun, attach fabric and batting to the underside of the platform, pulling tight along the way to keep the covering taught. Continue all the way around each edge, stapling every 2-4 inches. Repeat for all platforms.

*For my design, I decided to create a box on top of one platform. To do this, I took three of the 1x1 ft platform pieces and nailed them together as shown. I then upholstered this U-shape as if it were one piece, using the sherpa material for the inside planes and the bath rug for the outer planes. I followed roughly the same pattern but had to trace slightly larger pieces of fabric and trim them down as I went to avoid large overlaps.

5. Wrap each 2x4 support with sisal rope to create climbing and scratching area, using the staple gun to attach. Staple the rope every 5 or so coils on the back side of the beam. I chose to leave some wood exposed to keep natural wood texture in the design. It is important that all exposed wood is sanded smooth!

6. Upholster the base of the tree in the shearling material, using the same process used for the platforms. Wrap the edges of the base in colored yarn to finish.

7. Attach vertical supports & platforms (now one piece) to base, beginning with the tallest piece and using the same method as you used to attach the supports to the platforms. You will want to be deliberate here, making sure that you measure the distances between each element so you can properly plan for the installation of the horizontal support pieces.

8. Flip tree over so that pieces are upright standing on base. This is where I used the 10.25 inch and 14.25 inch pieces of 2x4 for horizontal support. Attach horizontal supports as needed, using wood screws to fix supports to upright beams. I expected that the 5 ft tall piece would require additional support, and this was indeed the case so I added a second support.

9. Present to your kitty!

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