February 20, 2019

A Giant DIY Cat Tree

The Idea

I've always thought giant cat trees and steps mounted to walls were cool. Since I was renting, cat steps and catwalks were out of the question due to the amount of holes I'd need to make. Instead, I decided to create a giant DIY cat tree using real tree branches that my tiny munchkin cat can climb onto.

The first thing was to source strong, stable branches that can support the weight of a cat. I drove up to Angeles Crest Highway in search of such and I was in luck. At the time, there was a heavy rainstorm with strong winds that knocked down a small tree. I brought a Dewalt reciprocating saw with a wood cutting blade and went to work chopping off two branches nearly 7 feet tall.

The Build

I'm not even sure what type of wood it was but it ended up working out. Since the wood was extremely wet, I let it dry out for a few days before debarking it. Using my beautiful new ax, I started to peel back the layers of bark, a tedious task that took a few hours.

The base platform was made with framing 2x4s cut down to 3 feet in length. I squared, planed and joined them with pocket holes on the underside. 6-inch lag bolts were used to connect the branches to the base platform.

I wanted my cat to have platforms to jump onto or sleep on. I used MDF to make these platforms and notched out a hole where it connected between branches for sturdiness. The other platforms are held up by driving screws into the platform and branches with some using L brackets for additional support. All platforms were covered with Sherpa fabric for soft, sleep-able landings.

Those cool wall mounted steps inspired me to make a bridge. I had some extra poplar wood laying around so I cut them into 1-inch strips. Holes were drilled into each side and were linked up using paracord. I made a knot after each bridge piece so that it can stay in place.

The Results

After everything came together, the tree seemed kind of flimsy. I ended up attaching a dowel and screws to connect the branches. If I were to do it again, I would probably add more weight to the base platform using steel instead of wood or a combination of both.

The result is one happy cat. Phoenix loves his tree and sleeps in it most of the day while I'm out. During his daily zoomies, he'll run around the house, climb up his tree and then back down.

Additional Tools

  • 12" 15 amp Dewalt Miter Saw - Used for making perfectly straight cuts to the branches. Home Depot | Amazon
  • 10" 15 amp Dewalt Table Saw - Making perfectly square platforms. Home Depot | Amazon
  • Japanese Pull Saw - Used for cutting small branches from the big branch. Amazon
  • Stanley Staple Gun - Used to staple the fabric to the MDF. Home Depot | Amazon
  • Dewalt Jig Saw - Used for notching the MDF around the branches. Home Depot | Amazon
  • 12.5" 15 amp Dewalt Planer - Used for planing the 2x4 main platform. Home Depot | Amazon
  • Dewalt Multi Tool - Used for sanding tight areas on the branches. Home Depot | Amazon
  • Dewalt Orbital Sander - Home Depot | Amazon
  • Safety Goggles - Home Depot
  • Respirator - Amazon
  • Hearing Protection - Amazon

You can make this giant DIY cat tree idea with basic tools. Using power tools make the build a lot faster and easier. Don't forget to Invest in safety gear before starting any project!

Also, check out my speaker build here.

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