This DIY cat tree has everything your kitty desires—rungs to climb, a cradle for lounging, and a cave for hiding. Our building plans show you step-by-step how to create this cat-tastic climbing structure.

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Two kittens: one grey kitten and one black and white kitten lay on DIY cat bed rack
Credit: Carson Downing

Every indoor cat deserves a place to play—a feline playground, if you will. And for a cat, climbing is the ultimate play-time sport. Providing your cat with a cat tree can make the difference between a bored kitty who acts out, misbehaves, and drives you batty and a content cat who is an adorable purring pleasure to have in your home. 

This DIY cat tree is an easy, basic build that any DIYer can tackle with a few basic tools and a few hours of time. And it has all your cat's favorite play structure pieces—a climbing tower with rungs, a cave for hiding and sleeping, and an open cradle for lounging in the sun and bird watching. This is a cat-tastic play station that, with its modern clean lines, looks good enough to be in the living room. The easy 36×10½×10½-inch build can be expanded to be taller or wider to meet your cat's—or multiple cats'—needs. 

two kittens play at base of DIY cat bed rack, one kitten looks from up above in bed
Credit: Carson Downing

Materials Needed to Build This DIY Cat Tree

• 20-inch beach ball 
• String 
• Duct tape
• Polycrylic sealer 
• Small tub with lid, similar to the size of a shoe box 
• Burlap (ours is cream in color) 
• Paintbrush
• 1-inch square poplar dowels 
• Saw 
• Wood glue
• Nail gun
• Sandpaper
• Primer and paint
• Painters tape
• 12-inch-diameter concrete form tube
• Bonding primer 
• Drill/driver and screws

Step-by-Step Instructions for Building This Cat Tree

Step 1: Make the cat cave.

Blow up the beach ball and tie string around it, leaving a long tail to hang the ball. Tape the string to secure it to the ball and hang from a plant hook in the ceiling or a rafter in the garage or basement. Pour polycrylic sealer into the tub and put the lid on. Cut strips of burlap about 3×6 inches. Open the tub and dip a piece of burlap in the polycrylic, soaking the fabric. Remove excess polycrylic by running the wet fabric through your fingers. Lay the wet burlap on the ball.

Assembly photo of fabric cat bed made out of beach ball's shape
Credit: Carson Downing

Repeat, overlapping strips and applying them at different angles until the ball has one layer covering it. Let dry overnight. Tip: Speed up the drying process with a fan. 

Put the lid on your polycrylic to keep it from drying out while the burlap dries. Repeat this process with three or four more layers of burlap, drying between layers. Once the final layer is dry, paint on two layers of polycrylic to seal and prevent kitties from tearing it apart. Cut the string and pop the ball using scissors. Cut a 6-inch hole where the string exits the fabric. Peel the deflated ball out of the inside of the fabric. 

Step 2: Build the tree. 

Cut four pieces of dowel to 35¾ inches long and 14 pieces to 10½ inches long. Lay two 35¾-inch pieces parallel on a flat surface. Place 10½-inch dowels inside the long parallel boards—one at each end, one at 10½ inches from the top inside, and one at 10½ inches from the bottom inside. Repeat to make two assemblies; one will be the front and one will be the back. Glue the ends and attach with nails. 

Next glue and nail a 10½-inch dowel perpendicular to one assembly in the four corners and at the top crosspiece. These are the arms.

Step 3: Paint and assemble.

Sand the pieces and tape over the ends of the arms and contact points on the second assembly to keep areas clean. Prime and paint. Set the fabric ball between the top arms of the first assembly, then lay the second assembly on top, lining up the arms with the rungs on the top assembly. Glue and nail it in place.

 

Adult hands put together cat tree with black frame and canvas bed
Credit: Carson Downing

Step 4: Make the cradle. 

Cut around the concrete form tube at 21 inches, then cut to a final measurement of 16×21 inches. 

Prep the tube for painting by sanding the edges and the inside. Prime with a bonding primer, then paint. Set the tube on the lower rungs of the structure, lined up with the back of the tower and protruding from the front. Attach the tube by screwing through the tube into the horizontal rungs in the front and the back. For kitty's comfort, add pet beds to the cradle and the cave.

Project Designer: Jeni Wright