About ten years ago we bought a four-foot tall cat tree that cost around $250. I bought it because it had real wood and thought it would last longer than the average cat tree. It lasted about three years. The sisal rope unraveled.
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The carpet on the back of the post split down the seam and was destroyed by my cats. It served our felines well, but I was disappointed it didn’t last longer. We decided to reuse some of these materials and make a DIY cat tree that would last longer. We also wanted to give our cats more vertical space.
Our kitties Kato and Charles were more than happy to serve as inspectors and product testers throughout the building process.
DIY Cat Tree
We used some of the parts of the old cat tree to make our new one. So we dismantled the old one and pulled out the reusable parts.
Since the new cat tree would stand over 12-feet tall we needed a sturdy base. We had a solid heavy pine computer desk that the kids no longer used, so we used the wood from the top of the desk as our base.
To create the tree we purchased three 6 in. x 6 in. x 8 ft. wood full round fence posts. We found these at our local home improvement center. The cost was around $35. We cut two of the posts in half, so we had four 4-foot posts. The four posts were attached to the base. They serve as the support for the rest of the cat tower.
We purchased three 100-foot rolls of 3/8″ sisal rope. It took two rolls of sisal to cover the four foot post. The third roll wrapped half of the 8 foot post.
Wrapping the post with sisal is harder than it would appear. It is helpful to start at the very bottom and screw the beginning part of the rope to the wood. The rope will loosen over time, so you will have to pull the rope around the post as tight as you can. This will ensure your cats don’t unravel all of your hard work. Because of this I would recommend gloves or you will get tiny slivers and burns on your hand.
The very top and bottom of the rope secures with a little bit of wood glue and secured with a screw.
Second Story Base
Then we purchased a sheet of plywood and cut to fit on the top of the four posts. This would serve as our second base for the tree.
We traced the post onto the plywood, so that it was centered. The final 8-foot post was placed in the center of the plywood. Scrap carpeting from a previous project was used to cover the plywood.
After securing the second floor to our cat tree we secured the scrap pieces we saved from our old cat tree. Once we had those pieces attached Kato had to inspect our work. The cat tree sits in a corner. To help secure it we cut another piece of plywood and cut a hole in it. We then used some of the extra carpeting to cover the plywood.
The next step was to slide the cut plywood down the 8-foot post to the spot where it lined up with the corner of our wall. We could then attach the post to the second base and secure the second piece of plywood to the wall for added stability. Charles said it passed for stability and was a great perch.
The final piece was to attach the tube from our old cat tree to the top of the new cat tree. Kato loves the tube.
With all of our recycled materials this DIY cat tree cost us just over $100 to make. As crazy as it seems almost half of the cost was in sisal rope. Good quality sisal lasts longer. Many of the inexpensive cat trees use the cheap stuff.
How long did your DIY cat tree last?
It has been 7 years since we built the cat tree. Our growing family of cats still use the tree every day.
How long does the sisal rope last?
I have never replaced the sisal on the 8-foot post. However, four years ago I replaced the sisal on the lower post. There is a small area where the carpet on the second base shows some wear. Other that that the tree has held up very well. The sisal rope never unraveled.
I hope this post inspires you to create your own cat tree your kitties can enjoy for years to come.