Here's my DIY: Pallet Cat Tree. I needed a 103" cat tree, and buying that size becomes way too expensive for my micro-sized budget. However, I did have some old 4x4" rounded redwood posts used for bordering gardens and such, as well as pallets! So, the only things I had to buy were the few bits of hardware and 150 feet of sisal rope (3/8").
Indoor fun for your kitties - a pallet cat tree can be installed in the living room, bedrooms, or anywhere you choose
First, measured my ceilings. I have 103", and the 8' posts would require piecing them together. So, I decided to add a couple of wooden levels for them to perch on and used pallet plywood for it. I cut the pieces to length, minus 1" gap for the adjustable foot we used at the top (like under appliances), and subtract the thickness of each level you use. We used 3/4" plywood and made three levels, so we subtracted 2 1/4". We found the centers of the posts by drawing lines from the rough corners of the posts (they're rounded, not perfectly round) and making an X-shape. Then we pre-drilled these to be big enough to insert a long screw in loosely (so it could spin when held vertically), but small enough to be secured later with a double-ended threaded rod, like drapery rod. Below is a double-ended threaded rod - sometimes known as "Drapery rod." We used some of the biggest we could find at the Orange Home Center - I think we found some that were 6" long?
Time for lots of hot glue! Do this part of your project outdoors to avoid any messes!
I wanted an easy to do all of the hot-gluing necessary for this project. So, I found a scrap 2x4" board, drilled a small hole and installed a very long screw. I lucked out and had a couple that was around 5" long. Then I set each section onto the screw where it could spin freely and began to hot-glue. Store-bought cat trees only glue a dot or two every few turns. However, I wanted this to be almost kitten PROOF, so I glued a bit on every turn. I spent about 6 hours total gluing all the sisal rope. Then I built a pallet wood rope bridge and a hanging hideaway box. I built the box by butt-joining the frame with thin deck boards attached across the bottom. I sanded all the wood used fairly smooth to prevent splinters in kitten "squish-beans" (cat lovers will get it, haha).
Assembling the cat tree and installing the Wooden Perches
In between gluing, I cut three different-sized pallet perches out of pallet plywood. I used a 6" hole saw and cut kitten passageways that were very near the mounting point so they wouldn't have to try to jump and fall. I sealed each piece with several coats of a non-toxic sealer, and then pre-drilled so that the threaded rod could slide easily through. Time to assemble! I installed a part of the non-slip material on the bottom post piece, then screwed the threaded rod in. I slid on the perch, and twisted the next piece onto the threaded rod and straightened it. At the top section, we screwed in one of those adjustable feet for furniture and a small block between it and the ceiling. We secured it in place, and as our cats grew, added one small angled brace to the trim around our window for added stability.
Bridging the gaps
I used sisal rope on the bridges - which were just pallet wood scraps that I drilled two holes into each end and "laced" more sisal through. On the underside, I used some nylon flex-duct strap and stapled it in place to provide more stability for my then very-little kittens. Now they run across like a herd of monkeys!
Extensions are like cats; you can't have just one. Time to add more since we got more kittens...
The kittens liked the tree so much, but as they grew, all three started cramming into one basket. Soooo.... time to add more. I built a hexagonal tunnel with more pallet wood and used the natural knot holes as the base for carved "squish-beans" - making several kitty paw prints with a small hole saw and drills. Then, I built each angle to be 60 degrees, so each cut is 30 degrees on each end. I used copper strap tape to trim the edges and provide a sturdy way to suspend it with two eye bolts and D-Ring carabiners. It can only swing front-to-back, and not side-to-side to prevent too much motion on the bridges. I added another basket as a final destination, so each cat has their own place to perch.
When my kittens were very little, the tallest portions freaked them out, but they were masters of their urban jungle in a couple of months. I only used heat-treated pallet wood and kitty-safe sealants. So far, the kittens are having a ball! Check out my outdoor Kitty Patio I made for them too - outdoor fun with indoor security! I also did a separate post on the Cat Tree Tunnel Addition.
The yellow cable was being temporarily held out of the way before being re-routed for some equipment. The post-it note was how we marked where the foot should go (just positioning alignment to the wall) when we were first positioning it up.
The rope bridge was tied to the main post, and then we used a 2" deck screw to secure it to the post through the knot to hide it. Now my fully-grown cats can run and jump on the bridge, and do it safely.
We hung the basket by using some old swag lamp chain that we scrounged from the husband's mother's garage. The excess sisal from the rope bridge didn't get cut off. We had fun winding it up through the chains since my one kitten was in that phase of chewing on EVERYTHING. He enjoyed the rope immensely. <3
After I made the little kitty paw holes using some of the natural knot holes, I outlined the paw prints with metallic craft paints. My kitties LOVE having cat toys gently pushed up to the openings as their paws shootout to play.
Here's how we started with the kitty prints. We used a natural knot hole and just used a drill bit to wallow out circular holes into oblong "toe-beans."
We've learned that the nylon supports weren't necessary, since I drilled the holes to be VERY close to the size of the sisal - it was a pain in the backside to lace through, but it actually would've kept the bridge pretty stable without it since we anchored each lace into separate eye bolts we screwed into the baskets and tunnel. This prevented a lot of twisting when they ran across.
We used copper pipe strap to trim the tunnel, provide extra support just in case (since at times all three sleep in it), and hooked the whole thing to the ceiling by installing two eye bolts with toggles on the back into the ceiling, connecting small eye bolts on the top of the basket with D-ring carabiners so we could take it down if we needed.
Puca the Evil One trying out her new perch. We used more of the old swag lamp chain and another spring latch D-Ring carabiner. The chain was screwed to four corners of the basket and attached with more eye bolts.