8 Modern & DIY Alternatives To Cat Trees

You have probably stumbled across various adorable videos of cats enjoying their cat trees. It can provide felines with a great way to exercise and unwind. However, if a cat tree is too expensive for you and you’re looking for alternatives, you’ve come to the right place.  In this article, we’ve compiled a list of fairly easy-to-build DIY cat trees that are cheaper than most available on the market and their how-to guides. 

What Is A Traditional Cat Tree Like?

A cat tree (also called a cat post or cat tower) is an artificial structure for a cat to play, exercise, relax and sleep on. Cat trees can vary in height and are usually tall enough to allow a cat a clear survey of their territory.  

Traditional cat tree designs are of a floor-based solid structure, composed of square-shaped sheets of particle board (as platforms, boxes, and enclosed structures) combined with wooden studs and planks that are used by cats as elevators or stairs. The exteriors and interiors are typically covered with carpet. Elevators are also frequently covered with abrasive materials (sisal rope being the most common), intended to induce cats to scratch and help deter them from scratching on other furniture. Cat trees are meant to create interactive areas that are only used by the cats to give them a sense of security.

Why Build Your Own Cat Tree?

There are many different types of cat trees available. A quick search on Amazon shows up over 1,000 results. Some of them are big and some are small, while some look like pieces of furniture. They can also come with a weighty price tag. A traditional cat tree may also ruin the vibe of your place and mismatch your décor.

Don’t worry though; just like pet toys, cat trees can also be built at home even if you have no advanced woodworking or handcrafting experience! You can also customize them to your own cats’ needs and make one that fits your home décor.

Here are some ideas that you might enjoy and take inspiration from:

Cat Tree With Hammock

This is a cat tree made using a 3-step stepladder. To build it, all you need is the stepladder, a blanket, a flower pot, a mat, some fabric, sisal rope, and simple tools (like a drill and hot glue). This is a really cute design because it gives your cat a little hammock to sleep in. The best part about it is that it can be made using IKEA furniture solely as the base and IKEA furniture is some of the cheapest furniture available. You can build this cat tree by following this tutorial.

It does not have much height except for three steps so if you’re looking to build a piece that’s less space-consuming, it might be a good option for you. However, if you’re looking for a cat condo with more height and want to give your cat a place with a clear survey of its surroundings, keep scrolling! 

DIY Cat Tree Using Real Branches

If you are someone who prefers a more natural look, then this is the right option for you: a DIY cat tree made using real branches of trees. This might make your cat feel more at ease if it has experience being out in the wild. Moreover, it gives off an aesthetic look and is a creative way to make use of nature.

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This cat tree uses plywood and pine for the base and doesn’t require any advanced tools to build. If you’re someone who’d very much prefer a cat tree made with real branches for your cat, we’d suggest taking a look at this how-to guide by Brittany Goldwyn. 

It’s also a way cheaper alternative and only cost Brittany $75 to build, but it’s such a flexible idea that you could probably build a smaller one for much less!

Multi-Level Cat Condo From Stacked Tables

This multi-level cat tree provides a considerable height and multiple platforms for your feline friend to rest on. You can pretty much use any tables you get your hands on but IKEA ones would work best. While stacking up tables, you can even adjust the height of the tree according to your needs. If you want to build this DIY cat tree, you can do so by following this tutorial.

The guide is pretty simple with clear instructions and does not require any advanced tools or woodworking experience. If you’re looking to repurpose old furniture or build a simple yet efficient cat tree for your cat, this might be a good choice for you!

Cut And Wall Mounted Stool Cat Tree

Do you feel very intent on providing your cats a tree to climb but don’t actually have the floor space for some of the free-standing designs you’ve seen so far? Then we’re pretty sure you’ll do much better with this space-efficient wall-mounted cat tree instead! In this tutorial, you can learn how to do it in a way that actually looks like a little tree scaling the wall, with bases for your cats to sit on where the branches might have bundles of leaves. 

Cats love resting at heights and this is a very clever idea to provide your cats with just that. It might also deter your cats from climbing up bookshelves or other furniture. It can be made using simple stools as the platforms – by mounting these stools on the wall. Cutting them in half and mounting them to the wall provides a very modern and cost-effective cat-climbing solution. Building this space-saving cat tree does not require any woodworking experience and is a fairly easy DIY task to accomplish.

Climbing Wall for Cats

This isn’t technically a cat ‘tree’, but it is a great way for your cat to be able to climb up to higher spots. If you have very limited space, then this might be the perfect solution for you.

Just attach a rug or carpet runner to the wall and your cat will then use this to climb up to shelves that are mounted higher on the wall (in this case, a shelf over a doorway). You can customize this idea however you like and use any kind of rug, carpet remnants, and wall mounts. You could even use a colored or patterned rug to go along with the décor of your room. 

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This is simply a climbing wall for your cats that would take up very little space and could be fitted in any small room or apartment. Just like other DIY cat trees we’ve listed, it doesn’t require any advanced woodworking skills or tools. If you’re interested in this cheaper and viable option, here is the tutorial by IKEA hackers.

Cylinder Cat Tower

The next up on our list is not just a cat tree, but also a cat scratching post. It uses 4 cardboard cylinders as the starting point which can be bought for $8 each. The cylinders are cut holes into and covered with carpet or sisal rope. It’s covered from the inside as well as the outside to provide your cat with a good scratching and climbing experience. You can also modify this DIY cat tree easily to make it more compact or flexible depending on the space you have.  

This DIY cat tower is undoubtedly inexpensive, space-efficient, and very easy to build. If you want to build this cat tree, you can follow the instructions here

Multi-Level Cat Tree With Fabric and Jute Rope

Do you want a cat tree that actually looks like a tree and sits right near the wall, but you know your cat will claw it like a scratching post so you’d rather use something besides wood? Then we’d definitely suggest taking a look at how Instructables made this 3D tree with multiple platforms. They also wrapped the entire thing in fabric and jute rope, so your cat actually has something really satisfying to scratch at. 

While it may seem like a pesky habit, scratching is actually great for your cat’s health. It keeps their claws in proper shape and is a great stress-reducing exercise for them. Not only is this a great cat tree but it also serves as an effective scratching post for your cat. 

Wrapped Pole And Basket Cat Tree

Are you feeling intent on making an effective cat tree for your fur babies, but you’ve noticed that they enjoy sitting in things rather than on them? In this case, we believe this alternative basket cat tree idea from HGTV might be what your cat needs! They explain how to construct the tree and strategically attach placed baskets so that your cat has all kinds of cozy places to curl up in.  Not sold yet? Here’s another DIY idea by HGTV that will keep felines of all ages entertained.

This tree uses PVC pipes, baskets, rope, and simple woodworking tools. The baskets are used as platforms or bases for your cat to rest on, and the rope on the pipes converts them into a scratching post for your cat.


Building your own cat tree is a fun and exciting activity that will save you a fair bit of money. With all the ideas in this article, you can build your feline a lovely cat tree in no time!

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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