Introduction: DIY Cat Tree for Not Much Money at All!

Picture of DIY Cat Tree for Not Much Money at All!

This cat tree consists of an old kitchen unit (free), a carpet tube (free), artificial turf (donated by a friend) and 3 x 'Sindal' mat from Ikea (£3 each).

The tree was made over a weekend and provides endless fun and games for our 3 cats.

The Ikea mats are made from Coir (coconut husk fibres) and are a lot cheaper than Sisal rope.

Step 1: Base Unit Made From an Old Kitchen Unit

Picture of Base Unit Made From an Old Kitchen Unit

Screw together a box section with circles cut out of the ends. The diameter of the circle depends on what type of tubing you use. I used a thick walled carpet tube (100mm wide).

Then screw the box section to another piece of board.

Install the carpet tube ready to plan the branch layout.

Step 2: Tree Branches

Picture of Tree Branches

With a little experimentation with a tenon saw and a jigsaw I managed to cut the carpet tube into 4 similar sized pieces.

The joins are done with copious amounts of hot glue and wide cable ties (narrow ones will slice into the cardboard!)

First drill holes, install the ties and then work quickly with the hot glue gun. Zip up the ties nice and tight.

Add strong tape such as parcel tape to doubly reinforce the joins.

To get the levels for the platforms I held a spirit level in front of each tube end and drew onto the tube with a pencil. After a rough cut it's then a matter of placing each platform and sanding / rasping / cutting until all is plumb.

Step 3: Platform Foundations

Here I decided to make sure that the platforms weren't going to break off too easily with future abuse.

I didn't take a picture at the time but will describe as follows :

Obtain a wooden baton around 40CM long. The baton needs to be around 2x3CM Width x Depth.

Cut it into 3 lengths (13.5CM each or thereabouts)

Next, measure 4CM below the top ends of the tubes (where the platforms are going to sit) and draw around the tube circumference. The wood batons are going to go all the way through the tubing.

To do so, cut an oblong at each side of the tubing. I used a stanley knife.

Slide the baton through and glue it into place.

Once dry place the carpeted platform on top of the tube, add lots of PVA, set the position of the platform (e.g. back, forth, to one side etc), then drive 2 or 3 screws through the platform and down into the installed baton.

Step 4: Fixing the Scratching Surfaces

Picture of Fixing the Scratching Surfaces

I used cardboard to create cutting templates. The coir mats will need a sturdy and sharp pair of scissors, the larger the better.

Cover the cardboard tubing with lots of PVA glue.

Place the first cut mat section onto the glue and overlap it at the back. Pull the matting as tight as you can when overlapping it, then drive screws through every couple of inches to hold the mat firmly while the glue dries.

After all of the sections are done, tidy up any gaps with spare matting.

Step 5: Cover the Platforms With Carpet

This is fairly easy. Cut the carpet larger than the platform (by 10 or so CM each side)

Cut out corners that will overlap when the carpet is folded beneath the platform.

Use PVA glue on the surface where the carpet is going to go.

Fold the carpet over the sides and under the board.

Use small 1CM screws to hold the carpet in place.

Step 6: Almost Done!

Picture of Almost Done!

Cover the base in carpet or artificial turf. Again, use PVA and screws to hold the material fast.

The cat tree now lives in my office with a couple of dangling toys added.

Step 7: Quick Demo


SarahE29 (author)2015-09-27

What exactly is the kitchen unit piece? I'd like to try this!

316ideas (author)SarahE292015-11-29

The kitchen unit part was salvaged from 2 of the sides from an old wall unit. The base is 80cm x 30cm x 18mm thick (although 15mm units could no doubt be used). The cube uses 6 x square cutouts, 2 of which have circles jig sawed out. The squares are around 15 to 20 percent wider than the carpet tube and are screwed and glued for extra strength. Make sure the circular cutouts are a tight fit on the cardboard tube, to keep the tree from swaying about later. Hope that helps :)

poochsnout (author)2015-01-03

How did you attach the coir mat wraps to the branches?

316ideas (author)poochsnout2015-01-10

PVA glue and 50mm dry wall screws. Pull the glued overlap tight (position the overlaps at the back) drive screws every 5cm or so down the seams. Use glue and small screws to hold the base material down as well.

thesagedragon (author)2014-11-30

awesome!!! love the natural look. what is the horn shaped thing on the lowest shelf?

316ideas (author)thesagedragon2014-12-01

It's kind of a cats ear type shape :D

gadams2189 (author)2014-11-26

Is there any way that I could get the dimensions of this? I'm wanting to recreate it and make it as perfect as possible for my cats. Thanks!

hammer9876 (author)2014-09-26

I love the tree part of this. I must say that it looks like my 12 pounders would run from another room, hit this, and knock it over. Please make this VERY sturdy.

316ideas (author)hammer98762014-09-26

There's always room to improve, definitely. I'd use PVC tubing and fill it with sand for a hardcore version. Fair point. Where do we draw thr line ?

hammer9876 (author)316ideas2014-09-26


This guy decided on a couple of things: Cats want their scratching posts tall, so they can stretch. They want it stable, so they don't pull it over on themselves. They want it wide. Which kind of explains why your sofa works so well for them, huh?

316ideas (author)hammer98762014-09-27

Hi, this was built for £10 for 2 slightly cuddly and happy cats plus an over active kitten. It is tall and heavy enough for their needs. I took all of the above into account when building it. Thanks for your concern.

316ideas (author)hammer98762014-09-26

..sorry, too much red wine ;p ... improve as you see fit :)

cophet (author)2014-09-26

Nice job but I wanted to see at least one photo of the cat. I'm a cat person :)

I live in the country and have access to fallen trees so I'm going to use your idea with real tree limbs . Thanks.

316ideas (author)cophet2014-09-26

Hi Cophet, cheers! We are also planning to do something similar with real tree branches. That version would look good in our living room. Let me know how you get on and do post it here on Instructables. Here's a production photo of a couple of our moggies - not the best pic in the world but it gives a sense of scale etc. I've got some video clips of it in use and will post a.s.a.p.

JamesV2 (author)2014-09-25

I had to make our "Tree" from Schedule 40 PVC and 5/8" Plywood, but mine goes from the first floor to the loft (ten feet). It had to be made beefy, Eleven Maine coons use it as their "Flying Leap Runway"

316ideas (author)JamesV22014-09-26

Hi James V2. I've seen a few variants on the theme. Some guy's welded one to the side of a block of flats :D ELEVEN Main Coons? Oh my days... I can see why you would need PVC for those guys :p

dpg350 (author)2014-09-25

Looks great! Nice job

316ideas (author)dpg3502014-09-26

Hi Dpg350, Much appreciated :D

Tuan JinnN (author)2014-09-25

Awesome, great idea. Simple to do. Thanks!

316ideas (author)Tuan JinnN2014-09-26

Hi Tuan JinnN, Many thanks! :D

rob2024 (author)2014-09-25

Love your Cat Tree - but I am going to make one for a Bird Table - Brilliant, thanks for your idea

316ideas (author)rob20242014-09-25

Hi Rob2024, great idea - just make it moggy proof! :D) Cheers for the like!

aalnahed (author)2014-09-24

Really nice outcome . Cheap readily available materials. Well excuted.

Thanks .

316ideas (author)aalnahed2014-09-24

Thankyou for your support aalnahed, I enjoyed making it. And ... it is a lot more rigid than the current iPhone 6 ; D

MsSweetSatisfaction (author)2014-09-23

This definitely looks like it was made by one of the cat tree companies, it's so awesome that it's not. Also it seems to be a pretty awesome upcycle project! Thanks for sharing!

Hi MsSweetSatisfaction, greatly appreciated! Liking the Lego 2014 b.t.w. Thanks again! :D

tinaciousz (author)2014-09-23

Wow. This is so beautifully done. I love how you used different materials throughout. The cats will surely love it too!

316ideas (author)tinaciousz2014-09-24

Cheers TinaciousZ, lovely to receive your feedback. With a sprinkle of cat-nip the 3 of them are having a ball (and very funny moments at that!) Much appreciated! :D

bizzycrafter (author)2014-09-23

Seriously??? I spent HOURS last week looking for a design like this, and I ended up picking something nowhere near as simple and inexpensive. This looks GREAT!! I especially love the use of the mats - wrapping and wrapping and wrapping with sisal rope can wear your fingertips practically down to the bone!! Cat says THANK YOU!

316ideas (author)bizzycrafter2014-09-24

Hi Bizzycrafter, much appreciated :D - if you do use the Coir Mats in the future make sure to wear gloves whilst doing so ... I've got a couple of blisters from using the scissors on the tough matting ;D Oh well, no pain, no gain (..or something like that haha!) Thanks again for your encouraging feedback!

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