How to build a rustic wood cat tree

Written by erin ringwald
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How to build a rustic wood cat tree
A large branch can be used to make a simple cat tree. (lone branch image by John Sfondilias from

Most cats enjoy heights, and a cat tree, whether store-bought or homemade, can sometimes satisfy this desire. A cat tree can provide your cat with a place to play and rest that is off the ground. If you are looking to add a cat tree to your home, making your own is a less expensive alternative to pricey store bought trees. You can create a rustic looking tree with just a little time and effort.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Branch
  • Hand saw
  • Bleach
  • Paint brush
  • Fungicide
  • Acrylic wood sealer
  • 3/4 inch plywood
  • Drill
  • Screws

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  1. 1

    Cut away any limbs that are less than 2 inches around from a large branch. The branch can be any type of wood but should be a minimum of 4 inches in diameter. The ideal length of the branch depends on how tall you want the finished cat tree to be. To remove the smaller limbs, use a hand saw. Cut off the end of the branch you want to be the tree base ino order to create a level surface.

  2. 2

    Kill any mould, parasites or insects on the tree branch using household bleach. Apply the bleach to the entire surface of the branch using a paint brush. Place the branch outside and allow the sun to dry the bleach completely.

  3. 3

    Kill any fungus on the tree branch using a fungicide. Apply the fungicide to the entire surface of the tree branch, again using a paint brush. Place the branch back outside to dry completely.

  4. 4

    Protect your branch from further infestations of parasites, moulds and fungus by sealing it with an acrylic wood sealer. Brush the sealer onto the branch with a clean paint brush. Allow it to dry before continuing.

  5. 5

    Attach the branch to a piece of 3/4-inch plywood measuring 1/3 of the diameter of the widest point of the branch and limbs. For example, if the diameter of the widest limbs on the branch equals 12 feet, the base should measure 4 foot by 4 foot. Drill screws through the base of the branch into the plywood. If you are putting the cat tree in a permanent location, use screws that are long enough to go through the branch, the plywood and into the ground. Screwing the base to the ground provides added support. After attaching the branch, add one screw at each corner of the plywood for further support if you want the cat tree to remain permanently in place.

  6. 6

    Attach 18-by-18-inch pieces of 3/4 inch plywood to the branches limbs. These are the platforms for the cat to sit on. Screw through the plywood into the limbs. The number of platforms is up to you. To ensure stability of the platforms, place one screw every four inches along the length of the branch.

Tips and warnings

  • For added comfort, cut pieces of carpet and use a staple gun to attach them to the platforms.
  • Wrapping different limbs and parts of the branch with rope will give your cats a place to scratch.
  • If you decide you want a less rustic look, strip the bark from the branches before construction.

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