Monday, April 23, 2018

Cat Tree

So I've had a dog, Sagan, for 7 years and last year got a cat, Giles.

Both of my boys are great and get along very nicely, but recently my dog started eating my cat's food - which I had placed on his old feeding station.

I moved the cat's food to the top of my wife's hope chest where my dog couldn't easily reach it - but that didn't deter my food-loving canine.

So now the cat's food is on top of on of my dressers.  And no one seems to like it there - not me, not the cat and certainly not my dog.

Last year when we got our cat I quickly built a cat tree for him to play on.

And he does love it.

But it has seen better days.  The top has fallen off...

...and the bottom post is Giles' favorite scratching post.

He turned the jute wrapped around the post into a pelt.

So I decided it was time for a new cat tree that can also hold his food.  I made this in Sketchup and has space on the top to hold his food (with high ledges so he doesn't accidentally knock his food tray off) and a series of ramps and holes to keep him amused when he get's the zoomies.

This tree is made with 3 sheets of plywood.

I printed out the plans as reference...

...and began ripping the plywood on the table saw.

Next I cross-cut all the pieces I needed with the sled on my table saw.

Now all the pieces are cut to size.

The first bit of assembly involves drilling pocket screws...

...which will connect the top, bottom, back and sides.

I used some quick clamps to hold the back and sides together...

...and attached them with some pre-drilled holes with countersinks and screws.

The pocket holes will be plug up later and it doesn't matter that the screws are showing because I plan on covering the sides with a carpeted material.

Next it was time to start cutting all those large holes for the cat to play around in.  I used my circle jig to draw the circle.

Then I drilled a 3/8" hole inside the circle.  This hole is big enough to allow the blade in my jigsaw.

...which I used to cut out the circle.

I then traced the circle on one of the middle-level boards.

The 2 middle-level boards stick out past the sides of the whole cat tree and so I used my circle maker to draw a curve on  the parts that stick out.

I then cut out the circle and the curved sides with the jigsaw.

I used the first level as a template for the second level.

And then a little sanding to smooth out the edges.

Next it was time to attach the levels.  I cut some spare plywood to make guides...

...which I clamped to the bottom of the cat tree's legs.

Then I could place the first level on those boards. 

I attached this level with more screws...

...and repeated the process for the second level.

Looking good so far!

Next I decided to work on those ramps.  For this I needed my table saw's blade to be set at 45 degrees.

I then cut both edges of each ramp.

The angled cuts let the ramp's edges sit flat on the bottom of each level and on each side.

But the ramps won't just sit there.  My wife wanted them to be removable.

I have so many wood cleats leftover from my workshop renovation, so I decided to use some of them.  I cut cleats large enough to fit in the space between each side of the cat tree...

...and glued/nailed them onto an edge of the ramps.

I then used pocket holes drilled into more cleats... try and make the mating end for the cleat on each ramp, but this method didn't work very well.

So I simply glued and nailed a cleat to the insides.

This gives the ramps something to easily hook onto, and easy to remove.

Next I added the ledge on the top, along with a taller back.

The back was added impulsively, and didn't look too nice, so I used my compass to draw curves on the edges...

...and cut them out on the jigsaw.

Now the back looks nicer.

I cleaned it up a little so I could bring it inside... see how well it fits.

The food dish fits perfectly on the top.

My cat is very curious about the whole thing.

He was very suspicious.

With my wife and I liking what was done, I brought it back in the workshop to continue working.  I began by sanding the plywood edge...

...but then remembered I had some decorative edging I could use.

So I cut the edging to fit and glued/nailed it on.

I did the same with the very bottom using some round-edged wood strips I had laying around. 

Next I was going to start covering up the edges of the plywood, but had to go out.

When I got back it was becoming late in the day, so the rest of this build would have to wait until the next day.

I was up early the next morning - ironically my cat had the zoomies around 3:30 am and crashed into a lot of things.  Being that I couldn't make much noise in the early hours, I simply glued plugs into the pocket holes and waited for them to dry.

When dry, I cut them flush with the sides.

When it was finally a decent hour to make some noise, I started by cutting very thin strips of wood on the table saw.

I then glued and nailed these strips on all the exposed plywood layers showing.

Then I decided that the 2 shelves should have a back to them, so I cut some of the leftover plywood and glued/screwed them in place.

For the 2 middle levels I also wanted to cover up the edge of the plywood...

... so for this I'll use some edge banding.

When applying edge banding, you need a hot iron.

Once on and cooled off, I used a block plane to trim the banding to be flush.

And now it was time for me to take out the bits of carpet I had.


 I started by measuring the top of the cat tree, and marking the carpet.  Then I used a straight edge and a sharp razor to cut the carpet.

Good fit, but I need to cut out the hole still.

While the carpet was still on top, I traced the hole from underneath, then cut it out on my workbench.

The fit is perfect.

To get the carpet to stay, I applied some carpet tape onto the top, making sure to get the edges and around the hole.

And now the carpet is in place and not going anywhere.

I repeated this process for the rest of the layers.

After finishing the bottom I was out of tape, so for the carpet going up the sides I had to use my staple gun.

Almost done!

I just needed to add carpet to those ramps...

...and put them in place.

And now I'm done!  Out with the old cat tree and in with the new!

Plenty of room on the top for his food and water.

And lots of space to run around and climb.

His dry food container also sits nicely next to the cat tree.

And hopefully he won't tear up the carpet on the sides too quickly.

I added no finish to this at all, since my cat occasionally gnaws on stuff he's not supposed to.

When my cat finally decided to see what was going on, he was hesitant about the new cat tree that was back.

...but he did manage to build up the courage to check it out again.  


So, thanks for reading and enjoy all the following photos of my cat and his new cat tree.



My cat is happy with his new cat tree.  My dog, however is bummed he can't reach the cat's food anymore.

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