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Make Kristen’s DIY Cat Tree!


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“Basil and Cooper’s Leisure Suite” by Kristen

You know how cat trees are typically really ugly?

Kristen decided that her cats, Basil and Cooper, didn’t deserve to miss out on the joys of a cat tree simply because she couldn’t stomach the looks of one in her apartment.

So she found a solution: create a custom cat tree from an a-frame bookshelf.


4th Story: The Penthouse

Basil and Cooper often perch on this level. It’s just a piece of faux fur cut to the width of the shelf and hot glued in place.


3rd Story: The Health Club

So named because, according to Kristen, the kitties get a kind of mani/pedi by scratching the carpet.

The construction is easy. Just cut a carpet tile to the width of the shelf and hot glue it in place.


2nd Story: Kitty Loft

This level has a cat bed. Kristen sewed a pillow to fit the width of the shelf using faux fur and quilting cotton, then stuffed it with batting.


A few Velcro strips hold the pillow in place (though she mentioned that watching the cats scoot around on the pillow was pretty amusing, too).


1st Floor: Cat Condo

She first made a tunnel by sewing two sections of quilting cotton to fit the front and back openings. These fabric pieces were also attached using Velcro.


Inside of the tunnel is a box top, wrapped in faux fur and placed on the shelf. Basil and Cooper aren’t as excited about this level at the moment, but Kristen knows they’ll snuggle here more in the winter.


Catnip Stuffed Toys

She made a fish and a bird, stuffed them with a mixture of batting a cat nip, and hung them from the cross section with rope. Instant batting toys!


Coiled Rope Scratching Post

The scratching post is one of the most important features of a good cat tree. Kristen made hers using this kind of rope. Just coil it around a section of support beam and hot glue it down as you go.

diy-cat-tree-10If you make a cat tree using this method, feel free to post pics to the Colette Patterns Flickr Group. Because, we love cats! Don’t you?

Rachel Rasmussen   —  

Rachel is a nerdy Oregon native with a philosophy degree and classical dance background. She fancies her personal style to be quirky sophistication, focusing on the importance of fit while adding special touches of handmade embellishments. She is also a connoisseur of whiskey and nap-taker extraordinaire.

Comments 27


I sure do love cats. I have an older fellow, Thomas, age 9, and just got a kitten, Emma, age 4 months now, lovely calico tabby.
This cat tree is awesome!!!! Thanks for the tutorial.

Katie Schulz

I love it!
Where does one acquire an A-frame book shelf?


Check on,, or at Target. I can’t locate the exact shelf I bought, but they have a bunch of similar styles! I spent an absurd amount of time looking for just the right type of shelf for my cats and my apartment. At the very least I wanted to incorporate some sort of tunnel, have a large enough space on the top of the shelf for both cats to be able to sleep, and be at least 5 ft tall. Yours or your cats preferences may vary.

I think something like this could be really awesome:
Or something like this:
This one is a-frame, but one shelf shorter than mine:

Another idea, if you’re a little bit handier than me you could use an old wooden ladder and some boards and assemble it yourself.

Elise Lin

What a wonderful cat tree! I don’t like the looks of the store bought ones either, but never got to making my own (especially since I thought it was complicated).


That’s such an excellent idea! I think I will copycat it. :)


Oh my! Gatzby hasn’t stopped meowing his, “I want one too,” meow since he saw this post. I know I won’t get any peace until I figure out the logistics of acquiring/buying a similar structure to tailor for my best friend. Thanks for such a great post!

Kimberly Giberson

This is such a great idea! I recently made my cat a house with this Butterick pattern

Space in our apartment is pretty tight – so I’m not sure I can make this now, but I will eventually!


Oh my goodness! This is so fabulous! I’ve been on the fence about getting a cat tree for my little baby for so long because they’re just so ugly. I’ve even been bugging my boyfriend to build her one (he’s a little reluctant because she’s completely shunned the adorable little iMac beds he made her), but this is something I can totally do myself. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful idea!


So funny! I actually double-checked to make sure I wasn’t on Ana White’s site!


Perfect!!! Must make something like this, ASAP. I wonder if I can free up one of the cheap folding bookcases around here with a good book declutter, and repurpose it for cat use. Especially the coiled rope detail, which just might be what’s needed to save the couch from the utter destruction that lurks in it’s future.


This is a really neat project for your cats. If you want even more stylish cat furniture to add to the tree, there’s a local company, square cat habitat that makes pretty cool stuff. Portland based but they have a website.


The attractive and modern cat trees like Square Cat Habitat or the Sebastian Modern Cat Tree were my inspiration for this project! Unfortunately, anything as nice looking as those were very much out of my price range. features a lot of really nice looking, modern cat trees and other cat furniture. It could be a great place to look for inspiration if you want to make your own cat tree.


This is absolutely fabulous! I love it! Now I just need to find a bookshelf that can whitstand my three energetic Maine Coon boys :-)


Hehe :) I would suggest looking at thrift stores for an older, chunkier style bookshelf. It might not be as pretty, but older thrifted pieces are always more solid. And you can paint or stain them!

elizabeth rehmer

This is such a great idea! we just recently moved and our cat, Tubbs, is currently residing/eating on top of our piano… i was looking at purchasing something but this is MUCH better!! :)


smart idea, in my old appartment we had made shelfs nearby the ceiling and with shipping robes (of hennep) they climbed on their own world.
In my new home i must wait for some drilling help to make new hanging robes. They had to climbed on the moving boxes quit a time.LOL
But now most of them are out of the living room and they have gotten selfmade by me sidetables to lay in their kittenhomes (it’s a version of an Zaans house= a kind of dutch house type, with tulips in the plantthroughts beneath the windows, and real roof tiles of wc tubes.LOL
I have made it of an old box that had the shape of a tiny home, they are playing with it for 5 years and it’s still suitable for both my cats;-D
I must do still alot in my new home, but my cats love this state of living, but i’m not. It’s like camping in your own home during all the seisons of the year.LOL
But my sis is helping with drilling holes and making closet to store my books and other items;-D
But your idea is i think much quicker done, so i will keep this in my mind.
thank you for your sharing and the cool fun idea.;-D


Man!!! I just bought one of the REALLY UGLY ones. I thought about making one for a long time but I wasn’t imaginative enough to figure out how. Oh well, a day late and a dollar short. My cats love the one I bought so much I may need more anyway. I will make those according to your idea. It looks great, congratulations and thanks for sharing.


In my experience, my cats can never have too much stuff to climb and scratch on!

Miss Crayola Creepy

This is my dream cat house!


How fun! I’d also suggest something heavy on the bottom shelf, or eyebolts in the floor (well, obviously not if you’re renting!) to tie all 4 legs down – 2 cats on the same end of the top shelf could tip it over. At least, my sister’s destructive PsychoKitty could.


The a-frame shape definitely adds stability to help prevent tipping, but bolting the cat tree to the floor is a great tip for home owners.

Susan M

This cat tree is great. It almost reminds me of one of those refined feline type cat trees. Thanks again for the great post and DIY project!


Lovely. I feel same what about the attractiveness of available tree houses. Thanks for your creative share.

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