Making Fluffy feel right at home

DIY Kitty Trees & Condos

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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DIY Kitty Trees & Condos

We'd like to have a kitty condo for our cat, but they're all so expensive! Most of them are $75 and up! They don't look that complicated. Is it possible that we could make a do-it-yourself kitty tree or condo?

Search Recycling and Upcycling Site for Materials

In order to build a good-sized kitty condo, I suggest that you scour recycling and upcycling sites for free materials. You might get some leftover lumber and/or carpet from Freecycle or even Craigslist. You could also check at local lumber and home improvements stores for scraps of suitable sizes. I would not use uprights of less than 4 x 4. You will also need to make sure that the base is stable or the entire unit is attached to a wall.

I would suggest screwing all pieces together rather than nailing for extra stability. Make sure all wooden surfaces are covered. You can add whatever embellishments you want, such as a spring-loaded toy to bat or a cat scratcher. You can find ideas online at cat and handyman sites.
Barbara in CT

Plants for DIY Kitty Trees & Condos

I made a kitty condo using the plans at this website. It was pretty easy. I just took the plans to Lowe's and they cut the plywood into the right sized pieces and then I put it all together and covered it with carpet in some places and sisal on the vertical surfaces. I am not terribly handy and had to get a friend to help me drill holes, but it wasn't too difficult and I had fun building it.

Make Your Kitty the King of His Castle

If you're handy with tools and can scrounge materials, I bet you can build a cheaper condo for your cat. Simply copy the designs of those $75 models you see in stores. Try getting carpet scraps from carpet stores or carpet installers and sisal rope from the hardware store or from what you have in your garage. Also collect scrap lumber. Maybe the carpet place would also have heavy cardboard cylinders left over from old rolls of carpet. (Or, visit a subdivision still under construction and look for discards there.) Cut the cylinder rolls down to size and add "doors." Also build square or rectangular condo rooms from your lumber, plywood, or scrap wood. Cover the flat surfaces with the carpet and wrap rope around the "towers." Your cat will soon be the king of his castle!

Begin Search Online

I found this tutorial after a ten-second search on Google. There are also many other sites available. I typed in "build your own kitty condo."

What Makes Kitty Happy?

Home improvement stores sell cardboard tubes in the masonry section, intended as concrete forms. You can also sometimes find them at carpet stores. Cut a few holes and hot glue or staple on some carpet remnants and there you go. Make sure to knock the staples flat with a hammer because they are sharp. Also, be sure to put something heavy in the base, so they don't tip it if you intend it to stand up. Cover the top to make a hammock or perch.

For super frugality, check for sturdy looking displays at the grocery store and inquire what they are going to do with them when they take them down. My cat played in a cardboard display "house" for several months before it wore out.

Related: 5 Cat Essentials You Can DIY

Don't Waste Time with DIY Kitty Trees & Condos

We built our own kitty tower a couple of years ago, and we've decided that next time we'll just buy one. We used some of our old carpet after we had new carpet installed, but after we'd purchased the structural components and the "fun" stuff (a large spool of sisal rope), and my husband had spent many weekends working on it, it had become more of a hassle than it was worth. What you have in mind may be much simpler than what we built, but in the end, a mass-produced tower just may be a better investment.

Another consideration is whether your cat will actually use it. We placed ours in the basement next to a window, assuming they would enjoy using a tower with a view. Because they want to be around us most of the time, they've hardly spent any time on it. I think they do like it, but apparently "location, location, location" is as important with cats as it is with humans!
Terry in Hoschton, GA

Save on your pet's medications at 1-800-PetMeds.

Make Sure Base Is Heavy and Large

We've made at least two kitty condos ourselves. It takes a bit of time, but it can be a whole lot less expensive than buying one if you can find free or nearly free sources of supplies. If you have to buy all the supplies, you may just as well buy the condo.

You'll need carpet scraps, particle board for the base and perches, 4x4 wood for the vertical posts, screws (nails come loose more easily), some jute rope, a staple gun and staples, a hammer, a screwdriver, and tools to mark and cut the wood. We used leftover carpet that we had downstairs in storage and wood scraps. For one of the condos we made, we used a concrete tube form. It made an awesome vertical post. For the supplies you don't have, see what you can get on Freecycle.

On our first one, we learned rather quickly that the base needs to be heavy and reasonably large. Our little kitty likes to run and take a flying leap at the condo, and she nearly knocks it over. I suggest doubling up the particle board for the base.

Once you've designed what you want, cut out the pieces. Attach the posts to the perches with several screws. Wrap the carpet over the perches, folding it a couple inches or so to the bottom side of the perch and stapling it along the edge. Once it's all assembled, wrap the posts with jute rope.

Take the Next Step:

  • Stop overpaying for your pet's medications. See how much 1-800-PetMeds can help you save.
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