A Cat Tree for Senior Cats: Initial Planning

Since the challenge of this project was to use as many materials from my local home improvement store as possible, I decided to take a trip to my local store and see what they had. I took pictures of the types of materials, their sizes, and the price. Even though we could over-design this for a higher price, I’d like to keep it at a more accessible budget. As I was looking through materials, I was trying to think about someone who only makes around $50,000 per year being able to do this in their spare time. What materials at my local prices would be accessible to them? How much would their budget be? What kind of room might they have to work on this project? Would they need to take advantage of the large-material cutting services that my local store offered? What other obstacles might they encounter?

Thankfully, my recent experience in the construction industry can help in this instance. The average price for materials should be around $200 as much as possible. The base of the tree needs to be a maximum of 3 feet (0.9 m) wide to clear through a door frame, and a height of between 6 and 7 feet (1.83-2.13 m)because most home ceilings are 8-10 feet high. The weight of the overall tree needs to be where no more that 2 people can carry it, so about 100 pounds (45.4 kg).

Now, let’s see what we have to work with.

First we look at the wood. There are multiple sizes to work with. I’m thinking of making a walkway between the levels from a few sections of 2×18 inch (0.79×7.09 cm) planks of wood. I can use a sheet of plywood to form the base and the bottoms of the beds for the cats to sleep in. I can use the smaller 1×8 inch (0.4×3.15 cm) planks for the sides of the beds.

Carpeting and Supports

The next big thing to look at is the supports. Using PVC piping would be the cheaper route and the lightest option. However, to get the same sturdiness, we would have to increase the diameter of the pipe. The metal piping would be the sturdiest option, and save space on the width requirement. However, the metal would add a significant weight to the overall design and increase the overall price.

My cats love carpet cat trees, so I would need to cover this in as much carpet as possible. Buying a large rug with a pretty pattern and cutting pieces out like you would sheet metal is one option, but it would be rather expensive with the largest option of 80 square feet costing around $150. The other option is to buy the carpet by the square foot, and again cut out what you need. This would bring our cost down to $52 for the same 80 square feet.

Now let’s see how we can turn the larger materials into pieces we can assemble into the cat tree. These have a variety of uses, and can thankfully give me a few options on how to design the tree.

Lastly, there are the fasteners. The deck screws would be really good for joining the base and the feet for the cat beds. I can use the regular screws for some of the other connections as well. I’m not sure what I could use the joiners for, but they could be useful. I didn’t see any biscuit joiners at our local store, but it is a smaller store than some of the others in our area. I’ll have to keep that in mind when doing my initial designs.

Next time: Initial Design Concepts

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