Make a Rustic Cat Tree

Kitten in tree

Many felines will spend all day on the platform of a cat tree and use the wood to sharpen their claws. Cat trees encourage instinctual behavior, and give your cat an enjoyable and comfortable place to nap. Although you can purchase cat trees from commercial outlets, you can also make one at home. No special skills are required for this project and most of the materials are easy to find.

Materials Needed

This rustic-looking cat tree is easy to build and will cost you next to nothing to put together. With a few pieces of lumber found around the yard, some small pieces of wood picked up at Home Depot or a similar store, and standard supplies like a hammer, nails and twine, you can build your favorite feline a new perch to hang out on. For this project you will need:

  • One 6 to 8-inch diameter log, 12-18 inches long
  • One piece of 1-inch thick plywood measuring about 12-by-20 inches long
  • Several 3-inch wood nails
  • Hammer
  • One 4-by-4-inch post, measuring 16-inches long
  • One piece of 2-by-8-inch lumber measuring 14-inches long
  • One 3 to 4-inch diameter stick, measuring 20 to 30-inches long
  • One 2-by-8-inch piece of lumber measuring 24-inches long
  • One 3 to 4-inch diameter stick, measuring 20-inches long
  • Two 4 to 6-inch sticks for base (optional)
  • A length of twine or rope

Directions

The instructions for building the cat tree are fairly straight-forward. One handy tip is to gather all of your supplies before you begin so you don't have to pause in the middle of building the tree to go find something. It is also advisable to keep your cats away while you're building, both for that cat's safety and to make it easier for you to build.

  1. Select or cut a log to use. Make sure it is sturdy, not rotten, and fairly level on both ends.
  2. Set the log upright and place the plywood piece on top. Center the plywood over the log and nail it in place, using four nails placed approximately one inch apart, in a square pattern
  3. Place the 4-by-4-post on the ground. Put the 14-inch long piece of 2-by-8-inch lumber over top of the center of it. This will be one of the sitting platforms. Nail the board in place with 3 nails in a triangle pattern.
  4. Place the post on top of the plywood piece off to one side of the center. Nail the board in place with three nails, placed approximately one inch apart, in a triangle pattern from the bottom of the plywood piece.
  5. Nail the longer stick to the center of the 24- inch piece of lumber with two nails. Place the other side of the stick on the plywood platform, off to one side. Nail the stick to the platform with 2 nails from the underside.
  6. Place the shorter stick across the longer stick and wood post horizontally. Nail the stick in place with one nail on each end.
  7. This will serve as a support and handle to move the tree easily.
  8. Cut a long length of twine or rope and wrap it around the joining location of the two sticks. This will give the tree a more rustic look and give the cat's a fun place to scratch.
  9. If your completed tree seems shaky, you may want to add some supports to make it sturdier. Cut two 4-6-inch diameter sticks to measure the exact same length as the base log. Position them on the sides of the base log under the main platform. Nail them in place about six inches away from the main log in the center of the platform. Use one nail directly in the center of the sticks. This will add support to the base of your cat tree.
base of cat tree
Base of cat tree
cat tree in progress
Cat tree in progress
finished cat tree
Finished cat tree

Printable Instructions

Need a printable copy to take with you as you make the tree? Click on the instructions below to print and download. Note that you must have Adobe Acrobat in order to view and print the instructions. If you need help downloading the instructions, check out these helpful tips.

Tips and Variations

Feeling a little creative? Try one of these easy variations to make your tree unique.

  • Use caution when working with a hammer
  • Always work on a level surface
  • Check frequently to be sure that all of your nails are staying intact
  • Be sure your cat tree is sturdy and can stand alone before allowing cats to play on it
  • Add remnants of carpet to the stand
  • Tie some toys to the stand for the cat to play with
  • Sprinkle some catnip on the stand

Cats Love to Play

No matter how old, cats love to play. If you have more than one cat, they will enjoy chasing each other, playing and napping on a realistic-looking cat tree. If you don't happen to have cats, ferrets will also enjoy this structure.

Make a Rustic Cat Tree