If you have an obsession with cats and bookshelves, combine them into one with these epic bookshelf cat trees!

While it’s hard to find bookshelf cat trees in stores, there are a few out there that I love. 

They’re also fairly easy to DIY, even if like me you can barely hold a hammer. 

Read on to learn more about both options. 

If you have an obsession with cats and bookshelves, combine them into one with these epic bookshelf cat trees! Check them out!

Epic Bookshelf Cat Trees to Buy or DIY

I have an odd fascination with book shelves. Once upon a time, my entire house was basically one ginormous shelf, loaded with books.

These days, those books are packed away, save for a few favorites. I don’t have space for all of them anymore.

Besides, I’ve been buying more ebooks lately because a Kindle is just easier to hold with my carpal tunnel.

Still, I do have a few books that I like to keep out…and an ongoing obsession with shelves.

I’m not the only one, either! My cats LOVE shelves. Sitting on them, sleeping on them, climbing, bathing, knocking stuff off them.

They must have inherited my shelf-loving gene through osmosis.

So, the idea of bookshelf cat trees really appeals to me. I can keep one shelf for my books and the rest for my kitties.

The problem? I couldn’t find many specific bookshelf cat trees in stores that I liked.

Then it occurred to me that I was looking in the wrong place. Instead of searching the pet section, I needed to search the home furniture section.

See, a bookshelf doesn’t need to be made specifically for cats. It’s already pretty cat-friendly.

So, below, we’re going to look at a few of my favorite DIY ideas for turning an ordinary shelf into an epic cat tree.

First, though, we’ll peek at the few ready-made ones that I did find (and actually like).

FYI, this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we earn a small commission at no extra charge to you. 

3 Bookshelf Cat Trees to Buy Now

The first two items below are actually from the “pet” section (meaning they’re legit “bookshelf cat trees”), while the other one can easily become a cat tree with little to no extra work.

1. Katris Modular Cat Tree

modular modern cat tree

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If you’ve read any of my cat tree reviews like ever, you know how much I love this thing.

While it’s not specifically a bookshelf cat tree, the modular design makes it a breeze to transform into one.

Set it up however you want to fit the space you have, then decide which shelves go to your cat and which to your books!

Features and Pros

  • Totally modular and versatile
  • Sets work together, so you can expand it as much as you want
  • Perfect for all breeds from munchkins to Maine Coons
  • Each block holds up to 300 pounds
  • Comes in black, white, or fun colors

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Made from cardboard- albeit strong cardboard

Recommendation

So, there’s the elephant in the room- it’s expensive. Like, almost $300 per set. That sounds like a lot for what is essentially cardboard.

However, it’s super strong and thick cardboard, so it’ll last a long time.

I really love the modern look and the versatility, though. It’s a great buy, overall, and perfect for all breeds.

2. The Sebastian Modern Cat Tree

Another ready-to-buy model that I like is the Sebastian Modern cat tree.

While three levels are clearly cat-centric (with scratching mats and lounging pads), the others can be used for books or decorations.

Features and Pros

  • Six levels
  • Sisal scratching mat on the first level
  • Carpet on the second and fourth levels
  • Cubby hole with hiding place on the second level
  • Available in black or white
  • Painted with non-toxic, lead-free paint

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Cubby isn’t really big enough for large breed cats
  • MDF, not real wood

Recommendation

While this one is somewhat pricey, especially considering it’s MDF versus real wood, it does have more of a real wood look to it.

I like that you can use three of the levels for whatever you want (or at least whatever cat-safe thing you want).

Reviewers say it’s big enough for the average cat, and even for some “big cats.”

However, they’re talking “larger end of domestic house cat” and not “Maine Coon big.”

So, I’d recommend it for small to medium cats only.

The Sebastian Modern Cat Tree in Black
  • Six separate levels for climbing and playing and space for decorations
  • Sisal scratching material on the first level
  • Carpet on the second and fourth levels for lounging
  • Cubby hole with hiding place on the second level Cat entrance hole is 7.5-inch-inch wide by 8-inch-inch high to fit large cats
  • Available in black or white, painted with durable, glossy, non-toxic, lead-free paint - made to last

3. Iwell Wooden 5-Tier Bookshelf

Iwell Wooden 5-Tier Bookshelf

Out of all the regular bookshelves that can easily become cat trees, this one has to be my favorite.

The staggered tier style makes it a breeze for agile kitties to climb, while the overall design has a very trendy industrial feel.

It would fit in beautifully with just about any home decor. Let’s check it out.

Features and Pros

  • Ladder style offers up 5 open shelves for kitties to climb and books to chill out on.
  • Large load capacity (each shelf holds up to 80 lbs) means it can safely handle the heaviest books…or the chubbiest cat.
  • Roomy enough for cats of all sizes
  • Made from a thick MDF frame and certified environmentally durable chipboard shelf
  • Easy to assemble, comes with anti-tip kit

Cons

  • MDF versus real wood
  • Not ideal for senior cats who can’t jump well.

Recommendation

Unless you count the fact that it’s made with MDF, the only downside is the space between shelves.

They’re a little too far apart for senior cats to make the leap. Beyond that, this is really a great versatile piece!

I would use Velcro to attach a cat bed to the top shelf and some sisal mats on alternating levels.

Put books on the inside section of the bottom shelf for added stability and maybe leave the middle as a makeshift cubby.

Look, I drew you a picture! The unmarked yellow boxes are books. 😀

Isn’t it beautiful? Shouldn’t I be in the Louvre?

Yes, I know, it’s absolutely wretched. I can’t draw using a mouse to save my life, but it gives you an idea of what I’m thinking!

The Sebastian Modern Cat Tree in Black
  • Six separate levels for climbing and playing and space for decorations
  • Sisal scratching material on the first level
  • Carpet on the second and fourth levels for lounging
  • Cubby hole with hiding place on the second level Cat entrance hole is 7.5-inch-inch wide by 8-inch-inch high to fit large cats
  • Available in black or white, painted with durable, glossy, non-toxic, lead-free paint - made to last

If none of these capture your attention, or if you’re thinking more along the lines of how to turn an old bookshelf into a cat tree, keep reading.

DIY Bookshelf Cat Tree Ideas

From upcycled old shelves to reimagined new ones to totally built from the ground-up combo ideas, at least one of these DIY bookshelf cat trees should catch your eye!

1. Cutest cat house made from repurposed book shelf!

This one uses a fairly cheap bookshelf, like this one that comes in multiple colors, and transforms it into a totally fun cat condo/tree.

The secret is actually the type of machine she uses, called a CNC machine. It’s pricey, but you can do a lot more with it than just make your own cat tree.

Upgraded Version 3018 Pro CNC Router Kit, Mcwdoit GRBL Control 3 Axis DIY CNC Engraving Machine, Wood Acrylic Plastic PCB MDF Milling Engraver with Offline Controller, CNC Router Bits, 300x180x45mm
  • ♞【Upgraded Version CNC 3018 Pro】 WE DO IT ! New Control Board -- Integrated Driver Chip + Fixed Heat Sink + External Fan + Sturdy Casing to extend the life of the control board, Self-contained short circuit protection, Not easy to damage. Please check the video to know how to install and use the software.
  • ♞【Offline Controller】Great for beginners. Upgrade from 128MB to 1G Capacity. Main advantages: 1,can operate without connect the computer; 2,Included SD card reader to write into the root directory G-code files or NC file; Support Manually adjust X, Y, Z axis location as engraving starting point, manually open or close spindle.
  • ♞【Wide Application】Suitable for carve wood, plastic, acrylic, PCB CCL, soft metal like copper and aluminum and other materials, but can not carve hard metal, jade and other very hard texture of the items.The package include all parts of the mechanical parts and Install instruction and software( electronic control board, stepper motors, frame, power supply and so on ).
  • ♞【Professional Factory Team】Please let us know if you need any help about the machine.

2. Easy Bookshelf Catification DIY

This one uses floating shelves to “catify” any bookshelf.

Follow her directions to create a dual-purpose structure, or use them to add dimension to a shelf that you intend to use just for your cat.

STORAGE MANIAC White Invisible Floating Bookshelves, Heavy-duty Book Organizers, 4-Pack Large
  • UNIQUE DESIGN & DECOR: Another way to store and display your favorite books. Stacking books on the sturdy metal shelf, the shelf will become hidden behind the books which look like books are floating on your wall (Put at will can become a scenery!)
  • SPACE-SAVING: Our Floating Shelves allows you to utilize empty wall space. One shelf can hold many books. Perfect for small spaces that are not quite large enough for a traditional bookcase
  • DURABLE: Made of strong steel with antirust coating, each bookshelf can support up to 15 lbs of books; Size: 6.42" x 4.59" x 4.92"
  • MULTIPURPOSE: This not only for books, but also can stack other things like air purifier, handicraft articles, pot plant, DVDs and etc. which make your room neat and distinctive
  • QUICK TO INSTALL: All necessary hardware are available in the package, you just need to mount the bookshelf on the wall

3. Upcycled Shelf Cat Tree

Upcycle an inexpensive cube shelf into the ultimate cat tower with a few cheap supplies and a little bit of time.

The bigger the shelf, the larger the tree! I like this model below:

ClosetMaid 1290 Cubeicals Organizer, 12-Cube, White
  • Stackable 12-cube design great for quick organization (includes 6-back customizable panels) | Single unit can be placed vertically or horizontally
  • Product dimensions – 35.91” W x 11.61” D x 47.56” H | Cube dimensions (each) – 11.25” W x 11.75” D x 11.25” H | Product weight – 55 lbs. | Cube weight limit (each) – 15 lbs. | Assembly required
  • Eliminate clutter and maximize space | Create storage and display space for any living area in the home
  • Sprinkle in color with ClosetMaid's solid color or pattern Cubeical Fabric Drawers for cubbies (sold separately)
  • Made of laminated wood | This product can expose you to formaldehyde, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer | TSCA TITLE VI COMPLIANT

Which of these bookshelf cat trees and ideas do you love? Share below!

Nicole Etolen
Nicole Etolen

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief and one of the writers here on CatVills. She’s been a cat lover most of her life and-at one point- counted five felines as part of her family. Today, she’s proud cat mom to two indoor kitties and caregiver for a slew of ferals.

Last update on 2021-03-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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