How To Build A Great Cat Tree in 3 Easy Steps

DIY Cat Tree with Cat

If you have one or more cats a good well-made cat tree is indispensable.  Two is even better. Shopping for one, however, can be fraught with high prices, low quality, wrong sizes for the amount of room available, dangerous designs, and difficult assembly.

It’s understandable that a lot of us won’t have the time to build a cat tree. You can still buy a good quality cat tree online. We’ve put together some well researched reviews to help you avoid some of the pitfalls when buying a cat tree online. We selected cat trees that cater for different needs and personal tastes.

Best pre made cat trees you can buy online:

For those that have the time on their hands and want full control over how the cat tree looks and feels, it’s probably best to build one. With a DIY cat tree, you can customize it to suit your own cat or cats needs. You’ll also have full control over the size and style, which will benefit you greatly if you have a small or awkward space you’re trying to get the cat tree into.

If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t have the building know how! However, we’ve got you covered. It’s not as hard as you may think, and this article covers everything you need to know, including some example DIY cat tree plans. You should think of it like this: making you’re own cat tree is the perfect opportunity to learn a few valuable skills that you’ll be able to apply else where in life!

We want you to come away from this article with all the information you need to build a sturdy, great quality cat tree you and your cat will love.  However, it’s important that you practice safe building methods and are sure to use all tools according to the manufacturer’s instructions. We are not responsible for any injuries, damages, or other happenings as a result of your DIY cat tree.

Step 1: Design Your Cat Tree

Cat Tree With Hammock

Decide your design plan. Your plan will guide you through each step and tell you what materials you will need to buy.  Study the cat trees in online stores for design ideas.  Sketch them out on a sheet of paper.  Please don’t choose a complicated cat tree to model your own after unless you have a lot of experience in building. If you’re like the average person with new building skills, choose something relatively simple.

Factors to Consider

Your Cat

Think about how your cat likes to play. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • Does he or she like climbing, jumping, setting high above the floor?
  • Or does he or she rather stay about bird feeder level in the window?
  • What’s your cats age and athletic ability?
  • Is it overweight?
  • How many cats do you have?
  • If there are more than one and do they all have different habits and ways of play?

Most cats like to sit high up above the world looking down.  If your cat likes to get away from it all, a cubby box for sleeping will be appreciated.  Does he or she have nails? (see why should should never de-claw your cat).  If they do a rope covered scratching post will be needed.  Many cats like to sleep on one of the platforms, so one that is large enough to curl up on would be nice. A cat tree with a hammock can make for a new favorite sleeping spot.


Do you live in a small apartment or a roomy house? Consider where you would like to put the cat tree. Cats prefer their trees near or in front of a window. Measure the space and write down these measurements.  Determine what size will fit perfectly in your area.

Your skill level

What are your carpentry skills? Just 8th grade shop class? Or are you pretty handy with a saw and nails?  Are you a seasoned professional? Whatever your skill level you can build a great cat tree but choose a design accordingly.

Availability of DIY Cat Tree Plans

For the most part, free cat tree plans on the Internet are pretty poor and difficult to assemble. Finding a good one might prove to be difficult, but they are out there.  We’ve included some below. If you don’t find what you want, it might pay to buy one rather than look for a free one.

Free Cat Tree Plans

More Free Plans 

18 DIY Cat Tree Plans 

Step 2: Buy Your Materials

Once you have found your design, you’ll know the materials you will need. Plywood is often used for the horizontal platforms while sturdier wood is best for the vertical supports.

Carpet is a great cover for the platforms.  A little carpet padding underneath makes it more comfortable.

Here are some of the tools you may need:

  • wood screws
  • a hammer
  • nails
  • a table saw
  • wood glue.
  • Drill

Be sure to read the material list on your chosen plan carefully.  If this is the first-time building, take the instructions one step at a time.

Step 3: Assemble The Cat Tree

Once you have everything gathered for the project it will be time for the fun to begin!

Cut the materials to size

Using your building plan cut all of your parts according to directions on your plan.  A hand saw is enough for cutting dimensional lumber, but a table saw—like a jigsaw—is best for sheets of plywood. Smooth rough edges with sandpaper.

Build the cat tree base

One of the most important parts of a well built cat tree is a good steady base.  If the base isn’t strong, heavy, and stable, the tree will be unsteady.  A good base should be wider and longer than any other part of the cat tree.  One of the best ways to create the base is with two squares of plywood joined together with glue.  The taller your tree will be the more extensive the base needs to be to maintain stability.

Cover the base using carpet

You can cover the base with carpet, but extra thick upholstery fabric will work as well.  Always cut the carpet or fabric a few inches larger than the base and wrap the covering over the edges of the base and staple securely with a staple gun.

Attach the vertical components to the base

The vertical parts will hold the platforms in place. When attaching them you can use wood glue, nails and or screws to attach the posts to the base. If using glue, you may want to also use screws just to be sure it will hold.

Turn the base upside-down and drill the holes you will need through the underside at the exact locations where the support posts will be.  Wrap with carpet or sisal rope. Attach the vertical posts by driving screws or nails into the supports through the holes.

Attach horizontal perches to the vertical supports

You can use wood screws or wood glue to attach your plywood perches to the support posts.  Cover your platforms (and the screws so they won’t show) with carpet.

Refer to your design for more attachments

Refer to your plans as you continue to add your various components. You can adjust your design when or if necessary, to make it more stable, or if you have a new idea or if you discover any mistakes.

Stand back and take a look at your new cat tree! You did great! But the true test will be your cat’s approval. I think he’ll give you 2 toes up.

DIY Cat Tree Video Guides

Here are some of the best do it yourself cat trees I’ve seen on Youtube. I’ve picked some cool designs, however bear in mind a lot of these have been done by experienced wood workers. Therefor it may be best to try something a bit more simple if it’s your first try. If you’re feeling confident, go ahead and give one of these a go… I’d love to see your designs do send them in, and we can feature them.

DIY Cat Tree for Maine Coons and Large Cats

This is a video guide on how to build the perfect cat tree for your Maine Coon cats.

Sturdy Tall 6 Foot DIY Cat Tree Guide

Do you need a tall cat tree? Perhaps you need to save floor space but have vertical space available in the room you want to place the cat tree in. This would be a great option. Most cats love to be high up, so building a tall cat tree like this would probably be a good idea anyway.

Stylish Wooden Cat Tree House

I absolutely love this design and I’m tempted to build one for my living room! This is a stylish cat tree / house, that would fit in with the decor of most modern living rooms. You can paint it to match the room you’re placing the cat tree in.

DIY Cat Tree From Recycled Material

If you want to save money and lower your carbon footprint at the same time then building a cat tree out of recycled material would be a great idea!

Easy DIY Cat Tree

This cat tree is easy for beginners to build. A great project for first timers. This would also be an ideal cat tree for older cats. Senior cats have an easy access ramp so they can climb the tree with less effort.

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