DIY Cat Tree: Tips and Instructions for Building a Cat Tree

DIY cat tree

Cat trees are especially important for indoor cats. Why not build a cat tree yourself?

For cats, cat trees are an adventure playground, lookout post and retreat all in one. In addition they fulfill another very important task – they allow cats to sharpen their claws. Every cat should have one. Especially to indoor cats it’s important to have a large enough cat tree they can use for exercise. If you build your own cat tree, you can construct it to your taste and your cat’s individual preferences. In this article, find out everything you need to know about DIY cat trees, as well as instructions for a cat tree with a birch trunk.

Advantages of a DIY cat tree

Compared to ready-made models, a homemade cat tree has the advantage that you construct it entirely according to your wishes. You have a free hand when it comes to choosing the wood, materials for the reclining surface and the colour. You can adapt this piece of cat furniture to your decoration style as well as the size of your home.

Aligned to the cat’s own needs

Furthermore, you can cater to your cat’s needs and preferences: Does it love clambering about on the cat tree or is it happier chilling on comfortable, easily accessible couches? You can focus on this with the construction. Slopes and steps make climbing easier for elderly and/or handicapped cats.

If you have several cats, you may need a larger cat tree with space for all the felines.

If you enjoy DIY, you can give yourself and your cat a fantastic treat with a DIY cat tree.

Building your own cat tree: What you should focus on

There are numerous instructions online for DIY cat trees. You can get tools and accessories in the hardware store. Even IKEA furniture can be converted into cat trees. Regardless of what you choose, you should take a few points into account before making a start:

  • The wood shouldn’t be fresh if you’re using a natural trunk. It must first be stored for a few weeks so that it doesn’t warp.
  • Numerous insects live beneath the tree bark, so you should remove the bark immediately.
  • The upper section of the trunk should be long enough for the cat to be able to stretch out and scratch it at leisure.
  • If the trunk has a flat surface, wrap it with a rope made of sisal. This gives a wonderfully rough surface to sharpen the claws.
  • Be aware of the numbers: The higher the cat tree, the more stable it has to be. Make sure that the floor panel is large and heavy enough and if necessary, additionally fasten the tree to the ceiling or wall.
  • Only use materials that do not pose any health risk. This applies primarily to colours and adhesives. If you want to wrap the trunk with a sisal rope or cover the reclining surfaces with material, focus on products free of harmful chemicals.
  • Avoid everything on which your cat could injure itself: staples, protruding nails and screws as well as wood splinters. You should thoroughly sand down all planks.
  • Precisely measure the area where the cat tree will later stand. There should be enough space on the floor to jump down.
  • Make a detailed sketch beforehand so you know what material you need.

Tip: If you don’t want to wait so long until your natural trunk is thoroughly dried out, ask a carpenter for trunks in storage.

cat scratching tree outdoors © FurryFritz /
Birch trees are especially suitable for scratching.

Instructions for building your own cat tree

Are you now keen to build your cat its own cat tree? A cat tree with a birch wood trunk is easy to put together and brings a touch of nature to the home even for indoor cats.

Birch doesn’t just look good, but also has the advantage of offering little refuge for insects, so you don’t need to debark the tree beforehand. If you choose another wood, however, you definitely need to remove the bark beforehand.

Another advantage is that a sisal rope isn’t necessary. The tree also can’t tip over because it is fixed to the ceiling.

Accessories for a DIY cat tree

  • A birch trunk at room height
  • A wooden plank, approx. 2 x 20 x 60cm (regardless of the trunk size)
  • A wood screw (6mm x 100mm) with countersunk head
  • Screw hooks with wooden thread for the trunk
  • Ceiling screw with eyelet
  • Dowel for the ceiling screw

Important: Be aware of the texture of your ceiling when buying a dowel for the ceiling screw. For instance, you need a different dowel for a concrete ceiling than for a wooden one.

Required tools for a DIY cat tree

  • Saw
  • Cordless screwdriver
  • Drill
  • 1 wood drill 5mm
  • Matching drill bits for screw hooks and dowels
  • Branch shears

Working steps

  1. Choose a suitable location for your DIY cat tree.
  2. If necessary, cut away excess twigs with the branch shears.
  3. Cut the birch trunk to the desired length with the saw. Subtract the length of the fastening hooks from the room height. When sawing off wood, make sure that the standing surface of the tree is straight and even.
  4. Screw the wood screw through the plank from below for the pedestal. The screw should be positioned in the middle and not protrude, otherwise the wood is damaged. If the wood screw cannot be screwed in easily, drill a small hole in advance.
  5. Screw the lower side of the birch trunk to the plank. You can also drill the tree trunk in advance so that the screw fits in easier.
  6. Now attach the screw hook to the upper side of the trunk. This is later used to fix the cat tree to the ceiling.
  7. Drill a hole into the area of the ceiling where the cat tree will later stand and attach the dowel. Then fasten the ceiling screw with the eyelet.
  8. You can now set up the cat tree and hang the clips up in the eyelet. You can adjust the height precisely through the thread of the screws.

Tip: You don’t own a suitable saw or don’t feel so confident? Then ask at a carpenter’s or hardware store if they can saw the trunk to size for you.

Attaching reclining surfaces

If your tree trunk has branches, you can equip the cat tree with additional reclining surfaces. Attach suitable planks or tree discs in the branch forks. These can be attached with matching chevrons from the hardware store.

Is your masterpiece complete? Then you can sit back contentedly when the work is done and observe your cat take possession of its new furniture.

If building your own cat tree is too time-consuming for you, the zooplus online store has a large range of cat tree models available.

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