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Our household is bossed around by three lovable cats: Leo, Tucker, and Freckles (aka Little Cat). They’re as cute as they are mischievous, and each has a very different personality. The one trait they have in common is their love of windows. They’re kind enough to “relocate” items to the floor when something obstructs their window view. Jeremy decided it would be nice to build them a cat tower to make it easier for them to look out the window, and it might help keep our stuff safer. I hope you find this tutorial for how to build a cat tower helpful, and leave a comment or email me if you have any questions.
Up until Jeremy and I moved in together, I had never owned a cat. I’ve always considered myself a dog person. We found our cat Tucker in a barn when he was just a small kitten, now he’s the size of a large opposum. Jeremy snuck him into the house one day, and immediately he became part of the family. I worried he would be lonely as the only cat in our household, so we adopted Leo from the shelter. Shortly after, a small calico kitten rolled out of the bushes, crying, on our way into the mall, and we couldn’t leave her in the snow. Freckles joined our family and I had to establish a moratorium on acquiring new cats.
Our cats don’t have a problem letting you know that their food bowl is half empty or that they left us a “present” in the litter box that needs removed. They’re particularly fussy about having a clean litter box, and Tidy Cats® Lightweight® cat litter helps makes two litter boxes for three cats more manageable. The new formula has the same Tidy Cats® strength that you love, but it isn’t as heavy. It’s available from Kroger stores at a great price, so I don’t have to make a trip to another store; I can pick it up while I’m grocery shopping. The cats litter box requires less maintenance due to the TidyLock™ formula in Tidy Cats® Lightweight® cat litter which helps to decrease odors.
You’ll have to be pretty precise for this DIY so make sure you’re using accurate tools and measure everything twice. If you’ve got more cats then you can just keep adding perches for them but you might need to use thicker wooden boards to ensure it doesn’t collapse. You will need to do a few angled cuts for this project so you could use a handsaw for this but it would be better to use a power tool for accuracy. I was going to use the circular saw we have but then I learned the difference between miter saw and circular saw and realized the miter saw would be best for it. You don’t have to have these tools but they will make your life much simpler. With that being said, let’s get into it!
How to build a cat tower with beds:
- Begin by constructing the boxes to be used as beds/perches. I used boards that were ¾” thick and 11″ wide, so that was the basis for my measurements. I cut the board into three equal 14″ lengths. Then, starting with the narrow ends, I cut two matching lengths of 2×4 lumber, each 11″ long. I pre-drilled pilot holes through the 2x4s to prevent splitting, and attached them flush with the bottom of the board using 2 ½” wood screws. Then I cut two longer pieces of 2×4 to overlap the ends of the pieces previously attached. In our case, the board was 14″, and the two 2x4s add 3″ total, so the length of the long sides is 17″ (remember that a nominal 2×4 is actually 1 ½” by 3 ½”, so 1 ½” x 2 = 3″). I pre-drilled pilot holes again, this time into the ends of the shorter 2x4s and into the edge of the bottom board and attached them using 2 ½” wood screws. [Note: If you choose to adjust the size of the perch/boxes, just remember to adjust the widths or lengths of the boxes accordingly. I always measure twice before cutting to make sure of a snug fit.]
- Once you have two boxes completed, and a third bare board for the top perch, construct the tower. Begin with the base by cutting one length of 2×4 at 18″ and one at 16 ½”. Be sure to butt the end of the shorter piece into the side of the longer piece and attach with two wood screws through the longer piece and into the end of the shorter piece. This results in a base that is 18″ long each direction. Use a square to ensure it is a perfect 90 degree angle. Next, cut a 36″ of 2×4 to form the upright. Stand it in the corner of the base and ensure it is plumb with a carpenter’s square. I recommend attaching with screws from both sides, and through both pieces of the base, to ensure stability.
- The stand’s stability is provided by the two diagonal braces that extend from the end of each base to the top of the upright. These are approximately 38″ long in our prototype. I recommend starting with two pieces that are about 46-48″ long and holding each in position so that the side is flush against the end of the base and flush against the back of the upright. Then, have an assistant draw a saw line with pencil along the top edge of the base. Cut the correct angle of the base by cutting along the line as drawn. Then hold the piece in position to ensure a good fit, holding the back edge of the diagonal flush against the back of the upright at its very top, and mark the cut line across the top of the diagonal using the top of the upright as the guide. Cut using the saw mark as a guide. Pre-drill pilot holes and attach using wood screws. Repeat for the second diagonal brace.
- To give the illusion of floating beds, the bottom must be raised off of the floor by the thickness of the base. It is easiest to do this by laying the structure on one side. Then, using wood screws, position and attach the bottom box to the upright and one diagonal. Once in place, cut a block of 2×4 and attach it to the bottom of the box with wood screws. This will provide stability and prevent the structure from toppling over. Measure 16 ¼” from the bottom of the box to determine the position of the second box, and attach in the same fashion, making sure to use screws from both directions in both the upright and the diagonal.
- Finally, position the remaining board so that it is square with both sides of the upright and braces, pre-drill pilot holes through the board and into the upright and both diagonal braces. In this case, I prefer using longer screws that will hold the top perch tightly in place. I used 4″ screws. Attach the top perch and ensure the stand is stable before upholstering.
Check back later this week, and I’ll share how to create the beds, upholster the cat tower, and create scratching posts from sisal. I’d love to see photos of your cat tower creations if you decide to recreate this project.
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