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How to Make a DIY Cat Tower

Build a homemade cat tower out of wood and PVC pipe and keep your feline friend entertained all day.

Two Cats Sleep On A DIY Cat Tower iStock

Cat lovers know how much their feline friends love to climb, hide, and scratch. That’s what makes a cat tower the perfect home accessory. If your beloved cat scratches the sofa, climbs the curtains, or lolls about in your laundry basket, it’s time to make a cat tower for them to climb and play on.

If your tower has the basic elements—height, a scratching surface, and a place to lounge—that’s all your cat needs. Your tower can be as elaborate as you want it to be, with multiple platforms, posts, and lounging spots. Cat tower designs are limited only by the confines of your imagination.

How to Make a Cat Tree at Home

1. Choose the location for your cat tower

Some are purposely window-height to allow for feline sunbathing and sightseeing. Others reach all the way to the ceiling, offering Tabby penthouse views of his or her domain.

  • Whatever location you choose, make sure the structure fits; you don’t want to build something and then find it’s too big for the space. Once you decide where it’s going to go, start designing.

2. Design your cat tower

Typical designs include pillars coming up from a base with different levels of lounging platforms; your tower can be as basic or elaborate as you want it to be.

  • Sketch your ideas before cutting any materials.

3. Create the base

  • Create a base that’s at least 24-inches square. You want it large and heavy enough to prevent the tower from falling over, so your overall design will determine the size of the base.
  • If you couldn’t secure thick enough wood, glue two pieces together to strengthen it.

4. Cut the pieces

  • Cut the materials to match your design. Use a circular saw or table saw to cut plywood and any wooden post lumber and a hack saw for PVC.

5. The dry run

  • Temporarily assemble the tower using small nails or screws to make sure you have a design you’re happy with and it’s stable.

6. Attach the posts to the base

  • If you’re using wood, secure it with screws up from the bottom of the base. If you’re using PVC, cut a circle from a thick piece of wood slightly smaller than the inside diameter of the pipe.
  • Screw the circle to the base where your pillar is to go and then slide the pipe over it.
  • Secure in place with a couple of self-tapping machine or wood screws.

7. Attach all the platforms in the same manner

  • To include a hammock, sew a length of sisal rope to each corner of your fabric and then tie it to cup hooks screwed into the posts.
  • When you’re done with the dry run, disassemble everything. It’s easier to wrap the pieces separately.

8. Wrap the pieces with carpet

  • Wrap whichever pieces you choose to with the carpet.
  • Use a carpet knife to cut the pieces a couple of inches larger than the wood.
  • Cut out the corners before wrapping the carpet over and stapling in place. If you’re using baskets, insert a piece of plywood cut to fit into the bottom of the basket to provide both stability and something to screw into.
  • To wrap the posts (or other pieces) with the sisal rope, first secure the end with a staple, then wrap continuously, keeping the coils tight against each other.
  • Secure the other end of the rope with a staple.
  • Add staples randomly along the length of the post, on the side that won’t show, to keep the rope in place. If you’re using tree branches and want to keep [retain] the natural look, only wrap sections of the branches.

9. Assemble the cat tower

  • Once all the pieces are wrapped with cat-friendly materials, reassemble.
  • When done, inspect for sharp corners, nails or screws poking through, or anything else that might injure your furry friend.
  • To further encourage play, dangle a few cat toys from the tower.

What Are Cat Trees Made Of?

Materials You’ll Need

  • Find a piece of ¾-inch plywood to create the base. Don’t skimp on this; go thicker if you can. You want the base to be heavy enough to prevent the tower from toppling over.
  • For lounging areas, look for plywood or strong wicker baskets (and heavy fabric or faux fur to line them).
  • To get the height you need for the posts, look for a piece of 4x4 lumber (length dependent on your design), PVC pipe, or even a couple of dry tree branches with the bark removed.
  • For the scratching surfaces, you want sisal rope and carpet. You can wrap either around the posts, base, and platforms.
  • Any thickness will work, but the thinner the rope, the more length you’ll need to fully cover the underlying structural material. Sisal rope can be purchased from a craft supplier.
  • To avoid introducing unwanted pests into your home, leave the used rugs at the thrift store. Instead, buy carpet remnants from a flooring shop or builders’ outlet store.

Other Materials

  • Wood glue
  • Nails, screws, and staples
  • Small cup hooks

Tools You’ll Need