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15 DIY Cardboard Cat Tree Plans You Can Make Today (with Pictures)

Chantelle Fowler

By Chantelle Fowler

cat and cardboard box

Cats are fickle little things sometimes. They’ll eat the same food for years and then randomly grow an aversion to it and never touch it again. But if there is one thing that every cat loves, it’s a good cardboard box. They can’t resist the call of an empty box!

Everyone has cardboard in their home. Instead of tossing it into the recycling, why not use it to create a fortress for your cats?

Keep reading to find the best (and easiest) DIY cardboard cat tree plans you can whip up today.

The Top 15 DIY Cardboard Cat Tree Plans

1. Cat Tree Box Fort

Materials: Cardboard boxes
Tools: Box cutter, scissors, packing tape
Difficulty Level: Easy

This very simple cat tree plan doubles as a box fort for your kitty. If you’re looking for the easiest cardboard hangout for your pet, this is it. It’s likely that you already have all the materials and tools you’ll need at home, so there’s no need to make a trip to the store before you start.

Perhaps the best thing about this plan is how customizable it is. Don’t have a lot of spare cardboard right now? That’s okay. Start with a tunnel or two and add to it as your recycling starts stacking up.


2. Kitten House

Materials: Cardboard boxes, pencil, fabric, sisal rope, yarn, ruler
Tools: Glue gun, box cutter
Difficulty Level: Advanced

This adorable kitten house is perfect if you have kittens or smaller cats in your home. Of course, if your kitties are on the bigger side, you can customize the house to fit your needs.

As you can tell by looking at this tree, it’s a lot more intricate than some of the others you’ll be looking at today. We love the unique touches like sisal rope around the portholes that make this DIY cat tree not only safer for your pet but nicer to look at, too. The stairs, albeit likely not functional, are adorable and the cozy sleeping spots make this a purr-fect addition to your cat’s furniture.


3. Cardboard Box Treehouse

Materials: Cardboard boxes, pencil or chalk, rope
Tools: Box cutter, hot glue gun
Difficulty Level: Moderate to advanced

This cardboard box cat tree also acts as a house and a pretty awesome hangout. We love that the creator included a cardboard ball on a rope toy. We all know how much cats can’t resist dangly toys. The peek-a-boo windows are another great addition that’ll give your kitties hours of entertainment.

This is another highly customizable DIY cardboard tree. You can make it as tall as you like, provided you have enough sturdy boxes.


4. A Cardboard Castle Fit for Royalty

Materials: Boxes, non-toxic acrylic paint, paintbrush, permanent marker, hot glue gun, wooden dowels, felt, twine, duct tape
Tools: Box cutter, scissors
Difficulty Level: Moderate to advanced

Your cat is likely the king or queen of your home so why not give them a castle to complement their title? This epic DIY castle might take you an afternoon or two to put together but the time and effort will be more than worth it.

If you have children, they’ll love to help you build this tree. Let them do the artistic tasks like painting the cardboard and drawing on the stones.

Feel free to get a little creative while decorating the castle and with what you adorn it with. The original creators use fake plants, real cat-friendly plants, and even a water fountain to make their cat’s fortress a hangout they probably won’t ever want to leave.


5. Kitty Castle

Materials: Cardboard boxes, fabric scraps, duct and hem tape, black marker, dowel
Tools: Box cutter
Difficulty Level: Easy

How adorable is this cardboard cat castle? The cute touches like the fabric flag and bunting are adorable ways to spruce up your castle and the room you’ll be displaying it in.

This is one of the easier cardboard hangouts on our list, so you can easily put this together in an afternoon.


6. PetSmart DIY Cat Condo

Materials: Cardboard boxes, tape, glue, markers,
Tools: Box cutter
Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate

PetSmart brings us this fun cardboard cat condo that provides personal space and doubles as a high-rise kitty condo and play zone. The easy-to-follow tutorial is a cat’s dream hangout.

Be sure to use a safe, non-toxic glue when assembling your cat condo. Measure all doorways to ensure your kitty can fit through safely. Use your imagination when decorating the exterior of the castle.


7. Cardboard Cat Tower

Materials: Cardboard boxes, packing tape
Tools: Box cutter
Difficulty Level: Easy

It doesn’t get any easier than this cardboard play tower. All you need are several sturdy cardboard boxes and a box cutter to create a tower that your cat will love to scale again and again.

Packing tape is an absolute must for this DIY. You will need to attach each box to the one below it to create a sturdy tower for your cat to scale.

Don’t forget to add a peephole or two if your boxes don’t have handles so your cat can keep watch while they’re in their tower.


8. Battlement Tower

Materials: Cardboard boxes, pen, paint, glue
Tools: Box cutters or scissors
Difficulty Level: Easy

If this cat tree looks a bit like a battlement tower, that’s because it’s modeled after one. We recommend finding the heaviest duty boxes you can for this tower. Your cat will probably want to get up to the highest point to look down at their kingdom, so the sturdier the box, the better.


9. Flower Tower

Materials: Cardboard boxes, tape, décor, cozy bedding, markers
Tools: Hot glue gun, scissors, or box cutter
Difficulty Level: Easy

One of the things we love about this cardboard flower tower is how customizable the design is. You can use boxes of varying sizes and strengths to create this tower while simultaneously emptying your recycling bin.

Once you have built the base, get creative with the décor. The original creators of this design used fake vines as well as leaves cut out of craft paper to give the tower a jungle look.


10. Tower with Solarium

Materials: Cardboard, pencil
Tools: Ruler, box cutter, hot glue gun
Difficulty Level: Advanced

If you want to create a cardboard cat tree that challenges your building skills, look no further than this amazing DIY tree from EverXFun. This cat condo is made from sturdy cardboard, so be sure to pick the heaviest duty boxes you can find. The stronger the tower, the more comfortable your kitty will feel scaling it.

We loved the unique look of this DIY, especially the rounded “solarium” with the bed on top. This beautiful kitty hangout will be something you can proudly display in your home.


11. Cardboard Tower with Stairs

Materials: Cardboard boxes, pencil
Tools: Box cutter, hot glue gun
Difficulty Level: Advanced

Don’t let the advanced look of this staired tower scare you away. While this tower is a bit more difficult to make than some of the others we’ve looked at so far, it’ll be worth all the effort when it’s complete. The stairs will be the hardest part of crafting this tree, so once those are done, it’ll be smooth sailing.


12. Mini Tower with Stairs

Materials: Cardboard boxes, pencil
Tools: Hot glue gun, box cutter
Difficulty Level: Advanced

This cat tower is a great way to provide your cat with a fun playhouse as well as a cozy sleeping spot. The cut-outs on the front are just the perfect size for your kitty to peek through and stick his paws through.

As with the other trees with perches, you’ll need to ensure you’re using the sturdiest boxes you can find. Nothing turns a cat off more from a cat tree than a bit of wobble.


13. Large Cardboard Castle

Materials: Cardboard boxes, pencil
Tools: Hot glue gun, box cutter
Difficulty Level: Advanced

We can’t get enough of the royalty-themed cat trees, in case you haven’t noticed yet. This cardboard castle is large enough for more than one cat to play in at the same time, and you best believe there may be a battle for the throne in multi-cat households.

This DIY will prove to be a bit of a challenge, but your cats won’t be able to get enough of the peekaboo cut-outs and hiding spots.


14. Castle Tower

Materials: Cardboard boxes, double-sided carpet tape, wood glue, brass paper fasteners, cardboard tube, cardstock
Tools: Box cutter
Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate

Do you love the look of the cardboard castle tower but don’t have room in your home for a huge space-hogging structure? If so, this cardboard castle tower is going to be right up your alley.

This DIY features a classic cat tower design that takes up no more space in your home than necessary. It’s a simple build and is sure to be a hit, especially in multi-cat homes.


15. Cat Playhouse

Materials: Cardboard boxes, printable door and window templates, bone folder, self-healing cutting mat
Tools: Box cutter, ruler, hot glue gun
Difficulty Level: Easy

Who’d have thought that one day we’d be taking cardboard cat tower advice from none other than Martha Stewart? This DIY is easy to follow though you will need some niche materials you might not already have at home (like a self-healing cutting mat).

The end result is a rather nice-looking playhouse you should be proud to display in your home. Plus, your kitty will adore the multi-level design and how tall this tower makes them.

How Can I Make My Cat Tree Less Wobbly?

No cat is going to touch a cat tree that wobbles when they try to scale it. If you’re noticing your cardboard tree sways with the weight of your cat, you need to take some steps to stabilize it.

Most cat trees, even the ones you buy at the store, are inherently flawed. They are tall structures with very small bases, which is really what’s to blame for the wobbliness.

Try widening the base of your DIY tree if you’re noticing some wobble. You can do this by attaching a piece of plywood to the bottom of the tree. You can also try weighing down the base with things like magazines or dumbbells.

cat in cardboard box
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Where Is the Best Place to Put a Cat Tree?

The best place to put your cat tree is in a room where your cat can both play and nap. Chances are your creation is going to be your cat’s new favorite piece of furniture, so be sure you put it somewhere where they’ll still be a part of the family. Your kitty will want to watch what’s going on in the home from the highest perch, so putting it in a living or family room is a great choice.

You might also consider putting the tree near a window. Cats love to watch birds and people, so a spot by a big window will allow them to do both.

Conclusion

Taking on a DIY cardboard cat tree project is a great way to spend an afternoon. You’ll get to flex your creativity muscles and can even enlist the help of your children (though we recommend leaving the box cutting to the adults). When it’s all said and done, you can be proud of your creation and spend countless hours watching your cat explore and play on their new favorite toy.

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Featured Image Credit: tranmautritam, Pixabay

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