Your typical cat tree these days is made from cardboard tubes. And the primary design goal seems to be to make them light and easy to ship in a box, to be assembled by the customer. But they aren’t sturdy. And even if they are, the design is still not great. Sounds familiar?
So what are some important features of a cat tree? Well, for one thing, they need something to scratch on. Cats have a natural need to scratch. A lot of people think it is to sharpen their claws. But that isn’t exactly true. Cats actually shed their claws and a new, sharper claw grows out from underneath. So if you ever see little claw shells like this laying around your cat’s favorite scratching area, you’ll know why.
Now, cats typically like to scratch on tall vertical things like trees, for example. These cheap scratching posts you see at the store are pretty useless. They’re more likely to tip over than anything else.
The other main thing your cat wants is some place high off the ground to lounge and nap. And if you have more than one cat then you need space for them all.
Remember, your cat tree has to be practical, that’s why it is better to think in advance about all the features you want to get. Let’s talk about the main issues and how you can solve them.
If you also have a dog, that might be an issue. He can continually pee on the bottom of the scratching post until it gets ruined. So make sure that your new scratch post will be pee-proof. And not just pee-proof, but also vomit proof. Yes, if you have a cat you know they are prone to spontaneous barfing wherever they happen to be at the time. Make sure the base is elevated off the ground and the only thing the dog could pee on would be the legs.
To make the legs of your cat tree 100% pee-proof is easy. Paint them. It is better to use oil-based paint so it should repel liquid, including dog pee. Think about painting the floors of each level too, because cats have a tendency to puke on things and MDF is really bad about swelling when liquid touches it.
You can use carpet for the horizontal areas to make it even more comfortable. Another option is custom padding so that it could be taken off and put in the washing machine. If the padding doesn’t work out, you can replace it later with carpet.
So, that’s one design goal you can pay attention to. You want to be able to replace the rope and the padding at least once a year as needed. We think most of the cat trees that get thrown out these days are actually thrown out not due to structural damage, but just due to the destruction of the coverings.
Think about incorporating a special cat dining level. Not a bad idea, if your dogs constantly steal cat food. For the dining level, you can put some sticky tiles down since there is likely to be lots of cat food spills around this area.