GADGETS & ACCESSORIES

DIY Cat Condo: How to Build Your Cat’s New Favorite Place

A man working on a DIY cat condo
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

We all love cats, but I’m sure every one of us who has lived with a cat before knows how difficult it is to keep their claws away from our precious furniture. Some of us may have even resigned ourselves to replacing our couch with a new one every other year. But what if I tell you that there’s a way to keep your cat’s tendency to tear things up at bay? I have two cats and every time my friends come to visit, they would marvel at how my couch and other furniture are totally scot-free. My friends would ask: “Don’t your cats scratch your sofas?” and I tell them, “No, not anymore! I use a DIY cat condo.”

If we understand what goes through our cat’s mind when they tear up our furniture, we can provide them with what they need and prevent any future destructions. What they need is a comfortable, safe, and relaxing space where they can follow their instincts without getting yelled at every time they sink their claws into something they’re not supposed to.

Two cat playing on a Homemade Cat Condo

A cat condo effectively does away with the headache of having to deal with a destroyed furniture as your cat will naturally gravitate towards the condo and leave other things in the house alone. But even a simple cat condo costs around $150—definitely not pocket change—which is why I prefer to make one myself. After instructing my friends on how to make a DIY cat condo, they all agreed that it could make a huge difference in ensuring sanity in the house and keeping the cats happier and healthier.

In this guide, I will show you the steps on how to make your own cat tree or cat condo so you can save yourself the hundreds or so dollars you would otherwise need to spend to buy one. And you know what? When you have a DIY kitty condo, you have something to show off to your friends. You’ll get the right to say: “I made that cat condo!”

The Importance of Having a Cat Condo

Just in case you’re still not convinced that you really need a cat condo, I would like to take a minute to explain why it’s important to have this cat furniture in your home. In the wild, cats catch food, defend their territory, and protect themselves using their claws. These activities provide a natural way for the wild cats to shed the older layer of their claws to make way for a new one. However, in your home, your cat won’t need to catch food or protect her territory, so she needs an alternate way to keep their natural weapons nice and cared-for. Therefore, a cat condo functions well to:

Keep Your Cat Stress-Free

Pets are our friends. Their companionship is priceless, and we return their love by providing a stress-free life and environment for them. This is why a cat condo is the best “prize” you can give to your feline friend. A cat condo has a scratching post and a sleeping bed. It provides the cat with a place they can climb up and down or perch on.

Two cat relaxing on a modern cat condo

If you don’t provide the cat with a scratching post and cat tree, she will invade your furniture or anything that will allow her to practice their natural instinct of clawing. This isn’t the fault; she can’t help it. If you force her to stop these habits, you are actually forcing her to go against her very nature. Stress will undoubtedly ensue.

Not to mention, some ignorant cat owners choose to declaw their cat. By doing this, they are unknowingly removing the cat’s equivalent of the fingertips. Not only is it painful, but it is also cruel. It really stresses the cat out and may not even solve the problem in the end.

Help Protect Your Couch

In a house that lacks a cat condo, the first thing the cat will usually resort to is sharpening their claws on the couch. The couch is the ideal place since it’s spacious, soft, and covered with a nice fabric that cats love to sink their claws into.

Cat relaxing -on-couch

When we say that a cat condo will help protect the couch, we don’t mean that it should be placed on the sofa to scare the cats or pets away. Oh no! Instead, it diverts your cat’s attention away from the sofa and onto a more appropriate place. Cats love to claw at a condo more than they do your couch, so they will leave the latter alone.

Keep Your Cat Active

Like people, cats need to stay active; it’s good for their health. Since domesticated cats spend much of their time indoors, a condo provides them with a place where they can have their daily dose of exercise. They will climb up, run down, run around, and have all the fun they need with the condo to remain strong and healthy.

Cat taking a break in a condo

If you are designing your own condo, ensure that it is sturdy and reliable. Cats tend to be hyperactive—especially when they play in a group, so even if you live in a single-cat household, make sure the condo is strong enough to withstand the weight of at least two cats.

Offer the Cat Privacy

Animals are territorial, and cats are no different. Cats have scent glands in their paws—meaning that when they scratch a surface, they are actually making that place their territory because they have marked it through the scent.

Cat relaxing in a modern condo

A condo that has been marked as the cat’s territory will become their sanctuary. It is the ideal place for them to spend much of their time playing, relaxing, and sleeping. Remember, cats sleep up to 16 hours a day, and they need a quiet, warm place to do so.

How to Make a DIY Cat Condo

There is no hard-wired way of making a cat condo. What you want to do is be a little bit creative and ensure you save as much as possible while providing your feline friend with the most comfortable condo.

You will be building a place for your feline to sleep and relax in, so it needs to have hiding spots. For this, you can consider using anything from a ready-made disposable cardboard box to something like a wicker basket.

Two -cats playing in a-condo-house

Your feline will also be climbing the condo up and down, so there has to be some perching spots. You also want to have scratching posts, which are actually the part that will become your couch’s saving grace.

In this article, we will explain how to make a condo using wicker baskets. Here are the materials you’ll need:

  • A piece of PVC pipe

  • Screws, preferably around 1-inch long

  • Wood discs that have a smaller diameter than the PVC pipe

  • Drill bits around half an inch in size

  • A drill

  • Angle brackets

  • Hacksaw

  • Glue gun and sticks

  • Sisal ropes

  • Wood screws

  • Wicker baskets

  • Pencil

Step 1: Cut the PVC Pipe

You will want to measure the space you have from the floor to the ceiling so you can attain the ideal height. The PVC pipe will act as the base pillar, so make sure that you cut it long enough that your cat will attain a good vantage point as she perches at the top, yet not so that that it’s dangerous for your cat. Mark where you want to cut the PVC pipe using a pencil.

A man cutting the PVC Pipe

Take the hacksaw and cut the pipe using the measurements you got in Step 1. Ensure that you detract from it by at least half an inch. You will use this space to mount the angle brackets.

Step 2: Add a Notch and Drill a Hole in Pipe

Take the top and bottom parts of the PVC pipe and cut a notch of about ¾ inches. You will be cutting the notch into half of the bottom and top parts of the pipe. The hacksaw comes in handy for this work. The notch will allow the pipe to slide over the wooden disc fittingly.

A man  Drill a Hole in Pipe

When done with the notch, go ahead and drill a hole that will help secure the rope. Use the drill bits. The hole should be at the very bottom of your pipe. Once you have drilled the hole, now tie a knot on one end of your sisal rope. This will help secure the rope into the hole.

Step 3: Cover the PVC Pipe with Sisal Ropes

Covering the PVC pipe with sisal ropes will provide a rough surface that the cat can use to climb up and down. It will also act as the scratching post. Sisal ropes are the best material because they do not hurt the cat’s claws and they are durable enough to withstand plenty of abuse.

To cover the PVC pipe, take the knotted end and start wrapping your rope around the pipe from the bottom. As you wrap it, you’ll need to pull it tight so that it gains grip on the surface of the PVC pipe. You can even apply an adhesive that holds the rope in place as you wrap it.

Image showing a 25mm Heavy Duty Natural Sisal Rope

Wrap it until you cover the entire pipe. In case your rope is too short and does not reach the other end, you can use a tape to help secure the part that you have already wrapped before you start another stretch.

If you are going to use multiple ropes, ensure that they are of same dimensions. Every time you run out of one piece, secure the wrapped section using a piece of tape. Do that until you have covered the entire pipe.

Step 4: Put the Angle Bracket

Take your angle bracket and align its top with the others beneath the PVC pipe. Using wood screws, install the bracket with the use of a drill at the location of the mounting bracket holes. When doing this, make sure that you don’t over-fasten or strip the PVC pipe; it’s plastic so you should be careful not to damage it.

Double Angle Bracket 90 Degree

When done with the first bracket, you will want to add a second and a third one. To do this, measure about 10 inches from the location of the first bracket, but make sure that you rotate the pipe to have the first bracket turned a bit. Using the same procedure, attach the second bracket and do the same for the third bracket (10 inches up and also on the opposite side of the second bracket).

Step 5: Attach Wicker Baskets

To attach the wicker baskets, you will need to fit in supports. Because we are using a square wicker basket, you will need to measure the inside area of the bottom part of the wicker basket. Take the measurements and cut into size a mounting board. You can use some plywood pieces for the support boards.

Image showing two round wicker baskets

Do the same for the remaining baskets depending on how many you want to mount. When done, place the boards at the bottom area of the basket and fasten them on the PVC pipe. Use the wood screws and drill to attach the PVC pipe to the boards, this serves to hold the basket to the pipe.

Step 6: Attach the Wood Disc

To attach the wood disc base, use a pencil to mark the area where the cat condo is going to be installed. The wood disc will be fixed to the floor using the drill and wood screw. This will ensure that it is firmly supported and does not move around if your kitty decides to play around on the scratching post or up there in the basket.

Once you have fitted the wood discs to the floor, you now need to slide the PVC pipe so that it fits in place. When sliding the pipe into place ensure it’s leveled. Now, mark the top and fit the second wood disc. Using wood screws, you then attach the pipe to the discs with your drill.

Image presenting painted-wood-slices

When done, the last bit is to secure the end of the sisal rope back to the pipe with use of a hot glue gun. And that’s it! You have just finished the creatively-designed cat condo that will provide all the fun, exercise, scratching, and sleeping the kitty needs.

When working on the condo, make sure that you wear a mask and use eye protection. You never know what could happen especially when joining the pieces together. Something may run astray into your eyes or even skin. Better be safe.

Wrap Up

While you may want to purchase a cat condo from the store, you can save that money by opting to make one using the above simple steps. You can also be as creative as you want and the materials can vary depending on your preference.

Instead of using wicker baskets, you could go for the cardboard boxes. You can usually get these for free in stores. Even if you have to pay, they are sold very cheaply because they are usually disposed of after the products inside have been taken out or unpacked. You can use the pieces of board in your home to make the cubicle. Whichever option you choose, you should ensure that the end result is comfortable and safe for your cat while also complementing the décor in your home.

Cats playing in a cat condo

If you choose to build a cat condo using cardboard boxes, you can paint them with your favorite color. The wicker basket cat condo already looks stylish without you needing to paint it over. You and your cats will love it. Making a cat condo doesn’t require you to have a particular set of skills. As long as you are comfortable with some carpentry work, you can do it easily.

Do you plan to make a DIY cat condo using cardboard boxes or wicker baskets? Perhaps you have some other designs in mind? Please share your ideas with us by placing a comment in the spot we’ve prepared for you below!

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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