A few weeks ago, a reader on our Facebook page commented that she and her partner had made their own Custom DIY Cat Tree from Ikea furniture. I told her about this post – How a Reader Built a Cat Power Tower from Scratch – and asked if she might be willing to send in photos of her Ikea hack cat tree, so other readers could see it. Lucky for us, she did – thanks, Kelly, Bear and Chibi!
Ragdolls, Bear (the mitted blue) and Chibi (the cream)
Here’s what Kelly wrote:
What made us decide to do it was that being such large and heavy cats, nearly all cat trees we’ve looked at or previously had just didn’t last in the long run. Posts would come loose at the joints and no matter how much you tightened everything, they would just wear and become unstable, especially with these two fairy elephants jumping all over it! Also, with Christmas and also their birthday coming up at the end of March, they had way more toys and treats than they could possibly need (well Chibi would tell you the opposite!) and this seemed like the perfect present for them, they are just a tad spoiled.
Cat trees suitable for Ragdolls tend to be extremely expensive, and we just didn’t want to put money into something that most likely would only last a year or two. Also, here in the UK large breeds of cat are relatively new so we are pretty limited to choice, unless you ship it in from abroad, but that’s just making it more expensive. We did some research and we found a website called Ikea Hackers, where people had put together various cat trees, beds and the like and shared them. We were instantly inspired and went about planning what we wanted it to look like, colour and put a few drawings together. We love diy so I think we were more excited than the cats!
Off we went to Ikea a few weeks later and picked up 2 of the Birch effect LACK Side tables (55×55 cm) and the matching Coffee table (90×55 cm). We also picked up 3 of the Variera kitchen organiser boxes that fit perfectly on the bottom shelf for all their toys and brushes etc. Finding a hard wearing surface to put onto the tables took a bit of thinking. We originally thought of using a soft material like a bath mat or a door mat of some sort but realised they would be hard to keep the cat hair from sticking to them too much. My pair are like a pair of sheep and the floof that comes off of them is ridiculous! In end we went for carpet tiles. We wanted the tree to be as cost effective as possible incase we had to replace anything further down the road, but once we got to the hardware shop (B&Q here in the UK), the cheapest carpet tiles just didn’t do it for me. They were short pile and really hard feeling. Yes the cat hair would have slid right off but I wanted the cats to have a little comfort and I know they wouldn’t have wanted to plop their hairy bums on it, because who would want to sit of something that felt like sand paper! So we spent a few extra pounds and got the next ones up which were a tad more “plush”. These tiles were the perfect size as most carpet tiles are 50cm square as standard.
We originally were going to hot glue the carpet tiles to the tables, which is perfectly fine, but in the middle of the carpark to get the tiles, I had an idea. I kind of wish I had that spark of inspiration before hand because it would have cost us less but hey ho! I had the idea to velcro the tiles on, just in case they got puked on or worse, or just needed replacing after they were old and tatty. 8 meters of velcro later (which they charge for both sides separately in Dunelm BTW for all you UK readers!) and a very lighter pocket, off we went to put it all together. We put the tables together and then started to work out where to put the right angled brackets (cheap on Amazon) to hold them all together. The velcro was self sticking on the back but we found that it just wasn’t quite strong enough, so we hot glued the velcro to the tables and the back of the tiles. Ikea furniture is so versitile you could put it into any configuration you like, but if you do use carpet tiles, you will have to trim the corners to accomodate the legs and brackets so it sits flat.
We wanted to recyle as much of their old trees as possible, so we unwound the rope from the old legs and stapled it to the new table legs. Just wrapping it and stapling isn’t really tight enough so we hot glued it in places as well just to make sure, which so far is holding up well.
So far, with our diy skills, its holding together. We have had a few issues though. They love it so much they fight over the top platform, so we will make another in the future and maybe put in some sort of rope bridge or walkway between the two (it’s a good job I don’t spend much time in my living room because it’s pretty much their play room!). Also, their claws tend to catch the white webbing in the carpet so it is starting to look a bit “hairy”. We probably could have avoided it being so noticable by not using purple tiles but I just cut these bits off every now and again.
Overall, as you can see it’s a big hit and was a fraction of what a pre made cat tree would cost. If we had shopped around more for the velcro we could have made it even cheaper, as that turned out to be the most expensive part of the project as we put it on every edge of the tiles to make sure they didn’t pull it up. Being nearly 8 years old and frankly, lazy, they don’t always like jumping onto the top from the left hand side. So we put together a few pieces from the old trees to make a sort of step, which has helped a lot and made them less, “Minion, its too high, pick me up so I can oversea my land or I will meow for hours until you do!”
If anyone else gives this a go we would love to see it, and if anyone in the UK has trouble finding the bits in Ikea, let me know because I forgot to take the labels off that have the product codes on, oops!
What DIY projects have you done for your cat? Send us photos and share your stories – firstname.lastname@example.org