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10 Amazing DIY Cardboard Cat Trees You Can Create at Home (With Pictures)

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on April 19, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat in a cardboard box

10 Amazing DIY Cardboard Cat Trees You Can Create at Home (With Pictures)

Cat ownership is an expensive venture, especially considering that most non-food items aren’t designed to last forever. Cat toys will get lost or destroyed over time. Pet beds will lose their fluff and comfortableness eventually. And don’t get us started on cat trees!

Cat trees are a necessary investment. They allow your pet to get up high so it can have personal space and provide fantastic exercise. The problem with cat trees is that they’re so expensive. Even the lowest quality tree can run over $100. So, if you’re here because you’re thinking about DIYing a tree for your pet, you’ve come to the right place.

We all have cardboard around our homes, so why not upcycle it into a brand new, recyclable cat tree? Keep reading to find our list of the nine best cardboard cat trees you can create at home with supplies you probably already have on hand.

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The 7 DIY Cardboard Cat Trees

1. Box Tower by Cool Cat Tree Plans

Materials: Boxes, tape, glue
Tools: Drill, plastic pipe saw, measuring tape, fabric scissors
Difficulty Level: Easy

This box tower is perhaps the easiest DIY cat tree we could find, and it’s something you can whip together in just a few minutes, too. All you need is several similarly shaped boxes that you’ll cut holes in and glue or tape together. You can make your tower as tall as you like, but ensure you’re fastening the boxes together well to ensure they stay together when your cat is playing in them.

2. Box Fort by Kitty Cat Chronicles

Box Fort by Kitty Cat Chronicles
Image Credit: Kitty Cat Chronicles
Materials: Boxes, packing tape or duct tape
Tools: Box cutter, scissors
Difficulty Level: Easy

This box fort is similar to the above tower, but instead of using boxes that are all the same size, you can use boxes in as many sizes as you’d like. All you need to do is brainstorm a rough idea of what you want your cat’s box fort to look like in the end. Use your box cutter to cut entry holes into the boxes. Line up or stack your boxes however you deem fit and use a generous amount of tape to keep them together. Build it as high or as wide as you want. Get creative with the directions you place your boxes and see what kind of structure you can make.

3. Scratching Post Tower by Instructables

Scratching Post Tower by Instructables
Image Credit: Instructables
Materials: Mortar, basin, boxes, wall putty, threaded rod, washers, nuts, protection pads, rubber gloves, eye protection, dust mask
Tools: Drill, sanding block, wrench, pen, ruler, knife, metal cutting saw, trowel
Difficulty Level: Difficult

This scratching post tower looks more straightforward than it is. We won’t sugar coat it for you, you will need some experience and patience to put together this structure, but the result will be worth it. Mortar is used to make the base of the stand heavy and sturdy, but it takes around a week to complete, so don’t expect to start this project this weekend and be done by Monday. Once your mortar base is complete, you can begin assembling the tower by sliding your cardboard pieces through the rod. Finally, complete the project by adding a topper of your choosing. The original creator used a “broken brick” from his mortar as his topper.

4. Cat Igloo by Instructables

Cat Igloo by Instructables
Image Credit: Instructables
Materials: Cardboard, pencil, compass, glue
Tools: Box cutter, measuring tool
Difficulty Level: Medium

The cool thing about this cat igloo is that it is versatile as it can be used as a climbing tree, scratching post, and a house. The original creator provides a PDF containing the measurements you’ll need to build this cardboard cat castle, so while it is a time-consuming project, it is laid out straightforwardly. You can make your cat’s castle as tall or broad as you like it, so if your cat prefers tall trees, you can provide that for him as long as you have several extra boxes.

5. Cat Castle by Instructables

Cat Castle by Instructables
Image Credit: Instructables
Materials: Sticky tape, boxes (same size helps)
Tools: Scissors, box cutter, ruler, pen
Difficulty Level: Hard

This unique cat castle is a two-story tree that doubles as a hang-out and playground. The original creator used three boxes, one for each story and one for support and add-ons. You can make this castle as big or small and as high or short as necessary to fit your cat(s). You will need large, sturdy boxes if your cat is on the hefty side. The original crafter also put a cloth pad in the top story so that his cat could snooze in its castle.

6. Cardboard Cat Tower by ikatbag

Cardboard Cat Tower by ikatbag
Image Credit: ikatbag
Materials: Boxes, tubes, cardboard package filler (strong flat cardboard), fabric, rope
Tools: Box cutter, glue, tape
Difficulty Level: Medium

This cardboard cat tower is a relatively easy DIY you could complete in a single afternoon. The original creator crafted the platforms from a thick flat cardboard rectangle that he then wrapped fleece around. The support posts are wrapping paper tubes that he wrapped in a bald carpet-like fabric. The high platform features a backrest and has a sisal scratching post underneath. Getting the support “beams” just the right shape to be functional will be the hardest part of this otherwise simple project.

7. Castle Fit for a Prince (or Princess) by Cuteness

Materials: Boxes, acrylic paint, paintbrush, marker, hot glue sticks, wooden dowels, felt, twine, decorative touches
Tools: Hot glue gun, box cutter
Difficulty Level: Easy to medium

This epic cat castle doubles as both a play structure and an awesome cardboard tower. Use this YouTube video to guide crafting your cat’s very own castle. Don’t be afraid to make it taller so your cat can get high and look down upon its kingdom. Let your creativity run wild with this project as the possibilities are endless. Add your own decorative touches in the form of plant pots, pompoms, bunting flags, or even live cat grass.

8. Amazing Kitten House by TuMan & Matchstick

Materials: Cardboard boxes, fabric, sisal rope, yarn, pencils, and ruler
Tools: Box cutter and glue gun
Difficulty: Advanced

If you have a bit of DIY work under your tool belt, this amazing kitten house could be the perfect project for you. This cat tree is designed for kittens or smaller-sized cats. That doesn’t mean heftier kitties can’t have fun. You can easily customize this DIY to fit your cat’s size and needs. While this intricate cat tree requires a bit of advanced DIY know-how, you’ll love the unique design and safety features it offers your kitties when finished.

9. Cardboard Box Cat House by Creativity Window

Materials: Cardboard boxes, rope, chalk, or pencil
Tools: Hot glue gun and box cutter
Difficulty: Moderate

This cardboard box cat house is an ingenious way to keep your kitties busy all day long. With added toys, windows to play peek-a-boo out of, and several places for your kitties to lay, what more could you want from a cat tree? You’ll also love that this DIY cat tree is customizable. You can easily add to it if your kitties require a bit more room. All you’ll need for additional height and space is more boxes. Make sure they’re sturdy, though.

10. Cardboard Cat Playhouse by Martha Stewart

Cardborad cat playhouse
Image Credit: Martha Stewart
Materials: Cardboard boxes, bone folder, printable door and window templates, self-healing cutting mat
Tools: Hot glue gun, box cutter, ruler
Difficulty: Easy

Once again Martha Stewart comes to the rescue with DIY advice. This crafty cardboard cat playhouse is a multi-level dream for your cats. You will love displaying not only the effort you’ve put in but also your design ability. Keep in mind, however, you will need a few DIY niche materials on hand. If you don’t have these items readily available you could be in for a trip to the store.
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How Can I Get My Cat Interested in His New Tree?

You’re probably so excited to see your cat’s reaction to its new tree, especially if you’ve spent an entire afternoon putting it together. Don’t be alarmed or disappointed, though, if your cat turns its nose up at the tree at first. It might just take a few hours or days to get used to its new play structure.

You can also do some things to entice your kitty into using its new tree.

Bribery works great with cats. Use its favorite toys to get your pet near the tree. For example, dangle its favorite wand toy on top of the tree to encourage it to climb. You can also sprinkle a generous amount of catnip onto the structure to attract your kitty to it.

Make sure you’re placing the tree in a spot in your home that makes sense. There’s no point in stuffing it into a corner you never go into, as your cat wants to be where the action is. Instead, put your complete project in a room of your home where your cat spends much of its time. You might also consider placing it in front of a window so your cat can watch the outside world go by as it’s high in its tree perch.

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Final Thoughts

It’s unnecessary to drop hundreds of dollars on a cat tree that your kitty will scratch up in a few months anyway. With the above cardboard cat tree plans, you can craft a structure for your cat from recycling and other materials you likely already have in your home. Not only will you be saving money by DIYing your pet’s cat tree, but you’ll also save the environment by upcycling. It’s a win-win for both you and your kitty!

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Natallia Boroda, Shutterstock

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