Cats are well known for their desire to climb and their ability to access even the tallest furniture. But what if you don’t want to sacrifice your bookshelves (or the knick-knacks on them) to your cat’s climbing cravings? How do you keep your cat from climbing all over your furniture?
Get a cat tree!
A cat tree gives your cat an appropriate place to scratch, climb, and perch. Your furniture will be much less of a target once your cat has a personal little fortress.
Key Features of Any Cat Tree
A cat tree shouldn’t be just a really tall scratching post. While it has the same main components of a base and a post (a really tall one), the function is different and needs some special consideration.
Whether you plan to buy or build a cat tree, there are a few key features to keep in mind. Any cat tree needs to be very secure to support these features.
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A Place to Perch
All cats enjoy surveying their surroundings from high above. Your cat tree needs at least one high perch for your cat to use. You may find your cat loves it more than the bookcase that she used before.
Your cat may decide that the perch is a suitable hiding place when she’s spooked. A tall perch can give your cat a sense of security and make her feel out of reach from danger.
A Place to Scratch and Climb
A cat tree is a wonderful place for your cat to exercise and possibly burn off some excess energy. Give your kitty sufficient room to climb up the cat tree and watch how much fun she’ll have.
While the whole cat tree doesn’t have to be made of prime scratching material, part of it should be since climbing and scratching tend to go together. Sisal rope is an excellent material for scratching purposes.
All cat trees must be secure enough to support your cat’s weight on a high perch or while she’s practicing her speed climbing. Nobody wants to watch their cat tree fall over with their cat on it. You either need a very wide base or a means of securing both the base and the top of the tree.
This will probably be the deciding factor on what kind of cat tree you get. If you have limited space, a cat tree that goes from floor to ceiling and secures at both ends will take up minimal room. If you have a bit more floor space, a shorter cat tree needs a larger base to support your cat at play. These kinds of cat trees tend to have more additional features such as dens, toys or hammocks.
Cat Tree Considerations
There are many cat trees available on for purchase with many different features. This is the perfect choice if you’re not a do-it-yourself kind of person, or simply don’t have the time to commit to a project.
There is a cat tree to fit every budget and every home.
Pros of Buying a Cat Tree
Is buying a cat tree for you? These are some reasons why you might want to buy a cat tree instead of building one.
Takes Less Time
A pre-made cat tree requires minimal assembly. If you don’t want to spend a weekend building a cat tree, buying one is definitely for you.
No Fancy Tools Required
Pre-made cat trees should come with instructions and need simple tools to assemble. If the kit doesn’t come with the required tools to begin with, you’ll probably only need a screwdriver, and you already have at least one of those lying around, right?
Lots of Options Available
Cat trees come in many shapes and sizes, and just because your not custom-building one doesn’t mean you don’t have lots of options. Aside from perches and a place to scratch and climb, cat trees can also include:
- Suspended toys
- Beds or dens
Cons of Buying a Cat Tree
Maybe purchasing a cat tree isn’t for you. These are some reasons why you might not want to buy a pre-made cat tree.
Can Be More Expensive
Buying a cat tree can be expensive, particularly if you want a rather large one for your cat. If your budget is more limited than your dreams for your cat, you might not want to buy a cat tree.
Not Easily Customized
While pre-made cat trees come with many options, your ability to customize the tree is limited. If you really like customizing things just right for you, or have an unusual place to fit a cat tree into, buying a cat tree might not be for you.
Recommended Cat Trees
This cat tree has a large base and lots of features for your cat to play on. It’s a great value for the price.
This floor-to-ceiling cat tree
Building a Cat Tree
Building your own cat tree could be the perfect project if you are a do-it-yourselfer. You might even have what you need already or only need to buy a few things to put together an amazing personal cat tree.
Pros of Building a Cat Tree
If you’re handy with tools and love a challenge, here are some reasons why you might prefer to build your own cat tree.
If you’re building your own cat tree the sky is the limit. Or your ceiling is, anyway. You can let your imagination run wild. Do what you want, and create the absolute perfect cat tree for your cat.
Can Be Cheaper
If you already have the tools and some materials lying around, building your own cat tree could be considerably cheaper. It pays to plan ahead, though, because it could get pricey fast if you decide to get fancy.
Cons of Building a Cat Tree
Building a cat tree is certainly not for everyone. It can be an intimidating challenge. Here are some reasons why building your own cat tree might not be the best option for you.
Takes More Time
Building your own cat tree takes a lot more time than simply buying one does. You have to plan, buy materials, and then build your cat tree. The bigger the tree you build, the more time it will take. If you have limited time, this option is not for you.
Need Special Tools
While most bought cat trees probably only require a screwdriver for assembly, building your own cat tree will require a lot more than that. If you don’t own or have access to at least a saw to cut the wood, you might want to buy a cat tree instead.
Need DIY Skills
Building your own cat tree takes skills that not everyone has. There’s no shame if you’re one of those people. If you want to try anyway, go for it! Be prepared to make some mistakes along the way, though. If you don’t have experience with DIY projects, this might not be the best option for you.
Tips for Building Your Own Cat Tree
Building a cat tree is not for the faint of heart, but here are a few tips to help you have the best success as you begin the process of building your own.
Planning makes everything go smoother, right? A little research and planning before you start will help you build the best cat tree you can. You need to know:
- What kind of pattern you’re using?
- What tools do you need?
- What materials are you using?
- How much time and money will it take?
These are important questions to answer before you begin so you don’t end up with an unfinished cat tree due to poor planning.
You can either create your own pattern, use a pattern someone else has created or you could just wing it. Although winging it doesn’t really count as planning ahead and is not advisable.
Using a pattern someone else has come up with is easier, but might not be free. It could add to your total cost. Then you’d have proper dimensions, and likely a list of tools and materials needed already prepared for you.
The downside to using someone else’s pattern is not having a customized tree for your cat. If you have a unique space to fill in your home, or just like being creative, make your own pattern! Just be sure that what you’ve planned will be secure enough that it won’t be shaky when your cat climbs all over it.
Tools and Materials
Building your own cat tree will require more tools than just a hammer and nails. The specific tools you need will depend on your project, but here’s a list of tools as well as materials you are likely to need:
- Wood screws
- Staple gun and staples
- Table or hand saw
- Utility knife
- Sisal rope
- Plywood or particle board
- Lumber of varying sizes
Time and Money
Make sure you have an idea of how much time a building project will take before you start. Can it be done in a day? A weekend? A rough estimate will help you be able to finish and not have to leave an unfinished project scattered around.
You should always consider your budget before starting any project. Do you really want to give your cat a half-finished cat tree?
Use Recycled Materials
Using recycled materials helps keep your cost down when building your own cat tree. Some materials—such as sisal rope—are pricey when bought brand new. You may already have some materials lying around. Or you can check for a local recycling program such as Freecycle. Also, you’ll be doing the environment a favor by keeping some materials from winding up in the landfill.
The most important thing when building a cat tree is to have fun! Enjoy the process and take pride in knowing you created something special just for your cat.
You should now have a good idea of what kind of cat tree you want for your cat. And you should also know whether buying or building a cat tree is the best option for you. Now go get the cat tree of your dreams—or your cat’s dreams!