6 DIY Cat Trees to Enrich Your Kitty's Life

Black cat laying on a perch on a homemade cat tree made from an actual tree

Hasret Sonmez / Getty Images

If you share your home with a cat, you're likely accustomed to your feline friend scaling bookshelves or napping atop the kitchen cabinets. This desire to be up high and observe the world below is instinctual for cats. It helps them feel safe by providing a secure vantage point to survey the landscape. In the wild, the ability to climb up high increases a cat's chances for survival.

To keep your kitty happy, it's important to have a structure like a cat tree, which your pet can safely scale to nap and play atop. In addition to doing something nice for your cat, you'll also be doing something good for your home by providing your kitty with something to scratch besides the furniture.

However, purchasing a cat tree from your local pet store can set you back a few hundred bucks. Luckily, there are several types of DIY cat trees that you can build for much cheaper.

IKEA-hack cat tree

Cat sitting on a homemade cat tree made from end tables
Julie Bérest

Purchase a few cheap end tables at your local IKEA, and you'll be ready to construct a simple cat tree in a matter of hours. Simply secure the tables atop each other with screws, and then wrap the sides with sisal rope or carpet scraps so your kitty has something to sink her claws into. For more tips, visit the Miss Caturday blog, which is in French, but the extra photos will give you a better idea of the project.

Real-tree cat tree

cat tree made from tree branch
Pixelista / YouTube

If you have a large fallen branch on your property, don't throw it in the yard waste pile! Transform it into a beautiful cat tree. In this video, YouTube user Pixelista documents how he made a unique cat tree for his kittens, Karl and Elmo, with a branch and some sisal rope. The messiest and most time-consuming part was simply removing the bark from the tree.

Bookshelf tree

cat tree made from bookshelf

With an A-frame bookshelf and a bit of creativity, you can create a one-of-a-kind cat tree that will add a bit of style to your home. Follow these instructions from Collete to build a feline-friendly structure that both you and your cat will love.

Cat condo

Stacked cubes with holes of different sizes
Heather West

After seeing a photo of a beautiful kitty condo that retailed for $300, blogger Heather West decided to make her own. She built three different-sized cubes out of plywood and carpeted each one before painting them and attaching them atop each other in ascending size. Total cost of the project? $60.

Cat tree from free materials

small DIY cat tree
brettgrubb / YouTube

Using a collection of donated and found materials, Brett Grubb was able to piece together a beautiful small cat tree in one weekend. Check out his instructions here.

Cat shelves

Shelves hanging on a wall
chezlin / YouTube

Short on space? You can still provide your kitty with a place to climb, as well as the "purrfect" place for a catnap — all you'll need is a few shelves. Simply purchase some shelves, glue carpet atop them and attach the shelves to your wall with brackets. And if you're feeling especially crafty, follow these detailed instructions.

Why Pets Matter to Treehugger

At Treehugger, we are advocates of animal welfare, including our pets and other domestic animals. The better we understand our cats, the better we can support and protect their wellbeing. We hope our readers will adopt rescue pets instead of shopping from breeders or pet stores, and will also consider supporting local animal shelters.