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Making your own cat condo/tree/hotel

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
My cats (like most) love to climb. We have a very short (3½ ft?) cat tree that they love, but there is only room for one cat up there and the perch is too small for even the two smaller kitties. I have longed to get a taller tree with more perches and places for them to play and sleep, hoping that something like that would also discourage them from walking along the top of the vertical blinds, the top of the bookshelf, the top of the entertainment center, the top of the hutch, the top of the curtains, the top of the...well...you get the point

One problem: They're too freakin' expensive!! Holy cow! How can a bit of wood and carpet cost so dang much?? So I've got this crazy idea to make my own...but how? I live in an apartment and needless to say my only power tool is a drill and getting a saw isn't an option

Has anyone else ever tried to make one themselves? Does anyone have any patterns? How does one go about getting wood cut even if I could make a pattern myself? Does anyone know if Lowe's or Home Depot or something would do this kind of cutting for me?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
post #2 of 17
I built my first one several years ago, and have built about 30 for friends and family since then. It's an enjoyable hobby I may turn into a business.....someday....when I get bored being retired.

Use good materials. 3/4-1" plywood. Home Depot or Lowes will cut if for you for an additional fee. 4X4's for main posts and 2X4's for smaller support posts.

You'll need an electric or pneumatic staple gun to attach the carpet.

As for a pattern, let your imagination be your pattern. Measure the area you want to put it in, decide on the number of levels, draw it out, and go for it. I find it relaxing to do.

You can PM me if you need help.

post #3 of 17
this is a great idea, ive been thinkin about doing this for a while now, but it just seems so complicated
post #4 of 17
Simple really. PM me with any questions and I'll be happy to help.
post #5 of 17
If you get 4X4 posts, try to get untreated wood. If the cats claw thru the carpet or sisal (as mine eventually do), the stuff that they treat wood with is full of toxins. Neither Lowe's nor Home Depot by me sell untreated 4x4s. I use 2 long 2X4's and screw them together.

Get carpet from remnant cut out. You will use a lot of it for a tall tree. Sisal rope is fairly cheap at Home Depot - 50 foot 1/2 thick is about $4.44.

You will need a hammer, screwdriver, drill and staple gun to make it. I also use a hot glue gun to further secure the carpet, but a staple gun will work also. Make sure the staples are securely fastened, and hammer them in if they are loose at all - you don't want your cats pulling them free and getting stuck by them.

It's not hard, just intimidating to start and requires some common sense and patience.
post #6 of 17
A friend of mine had one of these so I made one for myself...

I have a 6' Wooden Ladder that was pretty cheap at Home Depot and I wrapped the legs and the stairs themselves with sissal rope stapling it down and it's worked great especially as a scratching post. It's not that pretty to look at but they do play on it all the time.

I've been thinking about making one for myself though too because the rope is starting to fall off the ladder after years of use and I'd like something a little nicer to look at. I love the idea of having Home Depot cut the wood for me. I'd like to build a big box for the base that I can put their toys in to play in so there are fewer toys landing under my oven, refridgerator, and by the litterboxes in the kitchen. Then the posts on top of it with some purches and boxes to sleep in. I need to think about it more...

I've definitely been intimidated by this project seeing how I don't have a table saw to deal with big wood or a router to deal with joints or know much of anything about building wooden things. So thanks for the ideas!! They're great!!

post #7 of 17
I should have clarified that you can only use wood that hasn't been pressure treated. Pressure treating wood involves the use of arsenic, however non-pressure treated wood IS available at both home depot and Lowes. A "standard" cat tree 6-7 feet tall will take approximately 2-3 yards (plan on 3) of carpet. I stay away from glue since humidity and heat/cold cause it to lose its effectiveness over time. A good electric staple gun or preferably a pneumatic stapler will seat the staples down deep enough so that they won't come out even if you want them to.

It's fun to do. I'm currently building one for my sister in law, and when it's done I'll post a link to some pictures later today.

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for all of your ideas and input! I am becoming very excited about the whole thing now Great ideas from everyone! My mother has even insisted I make one for her as hers is nasty from years of service and she will be having company for 3 weeks in July. So I have a deadline! Uh-oh!

I'm going to get my graphics program up and make some plans now That large box on the bottom for toys is a great idea...but how long do you think they'll stay in the box?

I'm liking the look of this one and think I'll try to emulate is somewhat:
...only, perhaps not so dang big! Maybe 2 fewer stories to the tower box itself.

One other thing - is the wood very expensive? Where do you think it would be cheaper?

Thanks again, everyone!

post #9 of 17
Great idea, some of those things sell for over $100.00...I am going to make one too!
post #10 of 17
DiMa, you might want to be careful copying what may be someones copyrighted design. That one would be ....complicated to do as a first project. Boxes should be glued and screwed (or nailed if you have access to a pneumatic nailer) together with drywall screws for stability. Also remember that anytime you make a box you are doubling the carpet needs. 3/4 plywood in a 4X8 sheet runs 30 dollars here, and 1 inch is about 35 a sheet. 4X4 runs about $1.50 a foot in 8 foot lengths. 2X4 is about 3 dollars for an 8 foot length. Carpet will be whatever you can find at a good price. I have a friend that owns a carpet place so I buy "remnants" at a decent price.

Have fun with it.

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the warning, Jeff. I'm just getting ideas by looking at stuff on the web, that's all I just like the height and style of that one, and my cats LOVE to hide inside of stuff. Right now it is cupboards and drawers...if I made a box, they could hide in that and I wouldn't have to wash all my dishes and towels twice

Good point about the drywall screws and extra carpet. I'll keep that in mind. And thanks for the info on the costs, too. I plan to call around today to see about remnants.

I'm already having fun in my graphics program coming up with a design! This is fun
post #12 of 17
Just an idea here for the building challenged... what about using premade boxes to cut down on building labor. Like wine crates or even a thriftstore table that can be covered with carpet and make the condo. Then you can add boards for height. Garage sales, Salvation Army have TONS of stuff that can be the start of a great 'cathouse'.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by gephartzoo
Just an idea here for the building challenged... what about using premade boxes to cut down on building labor. Like wine crates or even a thriftstore table that can be covered with carpet and make the condo. Then you can add boards for height. Garage sales, Salvation Army have TONS of stuff that can be the start of a great 'cathouse'.
Pure genius! Salvation Army is right up the street and I'm surrounded by wineries! It's good to live in California

Thanks for the brilliant idea!

post #14 of 17
OK, you can see the one I just finished for my sister in law here


and here


The House on the right I built last week for our katkritters

Total cost on the tall one for SIL: $39.00

The "little house on the patio": $41.00

post #15 of 17
Jeff, These are great! I'm so excited about all this! I'm going to need to borrow a car though to get the wood home because my car is *very* tiny and doesn't hall wood well.

I'm also thinking about building a home for my litterboxes too since they are in my kitchen and the litter lands all over the floor all the time despite the litterbox rugs I have underneath them! That and I'd really like some kind of fan above them to keep air flowing over the litterboxes to help the litter dry faster. This I'll need to think about more but I'm sure I'll figure out something!

post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 

I thought about the litterbox containers, too. Then I saw these and decided I needed to make one!

I'm going to do the salvation army thing and see if I can find an old chest or something and then take it apart and get a hole drilled in it and put hinges on the top.

This is very exciting! Let's hope we don't lose the will to finish our projects as the kids get out of school and summer grips us

Thanks for those pics, Jeff! Those are excelent! Love the little house one. I can't wait to go to Home Depot
post #17 of 17
One thing I know I want to do with my cat litter box thing is to buy that plastic stuff you used to cover your windows in the winter and line the inside with that in a way that I can take it out and either wash or replace it.

This guy on E-Bay sells those litterbox things custom made for LitterMaids for like $300.00 which is OUTRAGEOUS for a finished wooden box! I have 3 LitterMaids for my cats and to build one custom for all three was going to be outrageously expensive and impossible to ship. I just can't see building one being that expensive and his doesn't have any kind of air ventilation built into it either.

I really should take a woodworking class one of these days!

For me, once I get started a project I'm normally good at finishing it... It's just a matter of getting started!

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