Are you wondering, “Is it cheaper to build a cat tree?”

As you’re going to discover, building furniture for your cat by yourself is not as hard as you imagine as long as you keep a few things in mind.

So, let’s talk more about what’s cheaper – building or buying scratching posts and trees for your furry friend.

Just keep reading.

Is It Cheaper To Build a Cat Tree?

tiger cat climbing on the ladder of his cat tree

Indoor cats need plenty of physical and mental stimulation to keep them happy and prevent boredom.

If you don’t want your cat to chew and scratch the carpet or walls, you have to provide a cat tree, a scratch post, or a cat house to satisfy these natural behaviors.

Otherwise, as a study points out, “they may develop health and behavior problems when deprived of appropriate environmental outlets for these behaviors.” (1)

But is it cheaper to build a cat tree? In general, building a cat tree or cat condo is a cheaper option than buying one from a pet store.

Let’s talk in detail about how much DIY cat trees cost and where you can find tutorials to build ones.

How Much Do DIY Cat Tree Costs Vs. Commercial Ones?

A basic cat tree with a couple of platforms can cost around $100, while a more complicated cat tower with ropes, a wooden ladder, and other extras can cost up to $300.

And if you have multiple indoor kitties, buying several cat towers or a modern cat tree can be too much for your budget.

Of course, you can find cheaper commercial models with a single level, but they’re so small that they’re not suitable for large cats, and your feline might be reluctant to use them.

But building a DIY cat tree from scratch can be as cheap as $20 to $50, depending on what materials you have at home and what cat tree designs you want.

RECOMMENDED: How to Weigh Down a Cat Tree

Is it Hard to Build a Cat Tree?

In general, making a basic cat tower isn’t hard at all, even if you have minimal DIY skills and have never made anything by yourself.

a man making a diy cat tree for his cat but Is it Cheaper to Build a Cat Tree?

You just have to find a good step-by-step plan and follow the instructions inside. I’ll explain in a moment where you can find such detailed cat tower plans.

If you have more than one cat, you’ll have to build cat scratching posts/towers with enough space, vintage points, scratch spots, and sleeping areas for each cat.

As such, it can be a tough challenge to build such a complicated structure by yourself from scratch.

What Materials Do You Need for a Custom Cat Tree?

Most cat tower plans I’ve seen use materials you can find easily around the house or purchase cheaply from your local market.

kitten scratching the scratching post

Depending on the design you choose, you’re going to need either several pieces of wood, such as plywood or sturdy cardboard boxes.

If you’re not handy, it’s better to stick to cardboard since it’s easy to cut holes in it, and you can use glue to put the whole construction together. And cats love cardboard, so they won’t complain.

Besides wood or cardboard, most plans call for wood glue, nails, a nail gun, sisal rope, a utility knife, and PVC pipe.

Of course, the larger the homemade cat tower is, the more materials and skills you need.

How Long Does It Take to Build a Cat Tree By Yourself?

Depending on the idea you have, you can build a cat tower in a couple of hours or a couple of days.

Most basic models won’t take you more than a day, but you’ll need more time if you’re making something more complicated, especially if you’re going to paint it and apply a finish.

Where Can You Find Cat Tree Plans?

So, you’ve decided to try building an cheap cat tree for your feline companion from scratch. Where can you find the best plans?

I recommend that you start with YouTube. I always find it easier to make things for my cat by watching tutorials than by reading instructions. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Paper Cat Playground
  • Cardboard Cat Condo
  • Cat Scratching Tower (not for beginners)

Besides YouTube, you can find plenty of awesome ideas on Pinterest, WikiHow, and cat owner blogs.

What Should You Consider When Building an Awesome Cat Tree?

Before you grab the nearest piece of scrap wood and the nail gun, you should consider a couple of things before you start building.


Cats have different preferences when it comes to scratching posts and cat towers.

kitten relaxing on the cat tree in the living room

Some felines a cozy sleeping post, while others prefer a high vantage point. And some like carpet texture, while others prefer sisal rope.

As such, you should pick a design and texture that matches your cat’s personality.

Natural Material

Real branches, lumber wood, and cardboard are among the best material for cat towers.

Of course, you can use any scape of wood you find as long as it’s not chemically treated or doesn’t contain phenols.

Moreover, you should be careful to use non-toxic paint, finish, or glue when you’re putting together the cat tower.


As behaviors, Lauren Novack explains, “Size and design are important based on the number of cats you have.” (2)

If you build a small cat tower, your cats will fight for the right to use it, and you’ll have to deal with territorial conflicts.

Moreover, if the cat tree is too small, your cat won’t be comfortable climbing it.


kitten relaxing on the cat tree in the living room

Some cat towers are free-standing, while others you have to secure to the wall/floor. The construction should be stable enough to support your cat’s weight, no matter which type you choose.

Otherwise, your cat will fall from the cat tree and might become so traumatized that your pet won’t ever try climbing it again.

As the cat house designer, Lora Lombard, says, “If you can lightly push on it, and it tips, don’t trust it with your cat.“(3)

Is It Cheaper to build a Cat Tree? FAQs

How Hard Is It to Build a Cat Tree?

It’s not hard to build a cat tower since you can find plenty of tutorials on how to make cat towers from cardboard boxes from scratch. But it helps if you have minimal DIY skills. 

Do Indoor Cats Need Cat Trees?

two kittens relaxing on top of a DIY cat tree

Yes, indoor cats need cat trees. A cat tower provides physical stimulation for your feline companion and a safe place where they can hide in times of stress and anxiety. 

How Do You Make a Cheap Cat Tree?

To make a cheap cat tree, you need a couple of sturdy cardboard boxes, a utility knife, and glue. Cut holes in the boxes to create an internal maze for your cat and use glue/tape to stick them together. 
Once you’re satisfied with your construction, think about how to attach the cat tower to the wall or floor to ensure its stability. 


So, you already know the answer to the answer to the question, “Is it cheaper to build a cat tree by yourself?”

Such a project can be an excellent bonding exercise for the whole family and allow you to spoil your feline without spending a fortune. 

Just remember to pick the right design and make it as stable as possible to ensure your cat’s safety.  What do you think about this topic?

tiger cat sitting on his wall-mounted cat tree

Is it cheaper to build a cat tree, according to you? Share your thoughts in the comment section. 


  • 1. Herron ME, Buffington CAT. Environmental Enrichment for Indoor Cats. Compendium (Yardley, PA) [Internet]. 2010;32:E4. Available from:
  • 2. May 05 LH, 2021. Yes, Your Cat Wants to Look Down On You [Internet]. Daily Paws. [cited 2022 Feb 22]. Available from:
  • 3. Nast C. Here’s How to Build Your Own Cat Trees, Catwalks, and Cat Furniture [Internet]. Architectural Digest. 2021 [cited 2022 Feb 22]. Available from:

Olfa T
Olfa T

Olfa knows how to get things done and has a keen business sense that others admire. She’s always on the go, coming up with new ideas! Her ability to anticipate the needs of her readers and deliver information that they want is what makes CatVills such a success. She loves cuddling her cat Picaciu. He is her inspiration.