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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 8:59 am 
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Asian Leopard Cat
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Hey everyone,

I am new here and just wanted to say I've read a lot of the posts here, still have lots more to read though, and I have found a wealth of knowledge here so thank you all for that. The reason I am here, I am expecting a baby bengal in less than 2 weeks time... can't really contain my excitement :)

So I've decided to build my own cat trees, seeing as I have all the tools necessary (and they are so pricey). I went out to Home Depot and bought some 3/4" thick OSB sheets (kind of like plywood) and I had some leftover 2x4's at home. Also had some leftover carpet that my parents bought a long time ago luckily. Here is what I came up with. It is almost 6' high. I am also in the process of making an elevated area where he can sleep if he likes. Let me know what you guys think! Will be making more stuff in the future.

Cat Climbing Tree: (front 4x4 post will be wrapped with rope to make a scratching post)

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Cat Bed-Tree-House (work in progress):

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Thought maybe there would be some other DIY'ers out there who'd like to share their home made inventions, and wouldn't mind getting some feedback on mine. Also, I am picking up my kitten up in a few weeks and he will be 12 weeks old. I wonder how far up that cat tree he could get.... Hmmmm.

Thanks for looking, folks.

-Matt

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 4:34 pm 
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Asian Leopard Cat

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lucky kitten! :biggrin:

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 5:02 pm 
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Asian Leopard Cat
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MWB wrote:
I wonder how far up that cat tree he could get.... Hmmmm.


Welcome Matt. I think it's cool that you are attempting to make your own. I definitely don't have the skills to do that, so I admire that!

In terms of the tree that you've built though...I've owned many trees and many cats, and over the years I've developed some criteria when looking for a tree:

1. Has to be tall. 6' or higher is preferred (but really the taller the better). You ask how high he could climb up? The top platform is the only platform to a cat :wink: My prediction is that your kitten will be up to the top perch within the first week, and my money would be on the first day...

2. It needs to serve as a scratching post in addition to a tree. So preferably cylindrical columns tightly wrapped in sisal rope.

3. It has to have wide perches such that a cat can curl up and snooze in them. Preferably large enough to put cat beds on the perches, and if the perches are recessed a bit, that makes them better (so cat bed or cat doesn't slip off).

4. There has to be a way down from the top perch to the floor without a "crash landing". You've nailed that one (at least how it is now, not sure how that "house" part fits on). Many badly designed trees don't have that feature, and cats end up hurting themselves jumping down over and over.

5. Dangling toys hung by those bungie strings are a HUGE plus. Seems like a silly thing... until you see that it becomes your cat's favorite toy.

6. If the tree features long poles, allowing the cat to use them as climbing poles, that is also a huge plus. Few trees have that.

7. It should have a wide enough base to be stable. Most trees don't meaning they can only really be put up against a wall, or even in a corner.

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Last edited by brianj12 on Thu Dec 29, 2016 5:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 5:17 pm 
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Asian Leopard Cat

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Welcome to our forum and congratulations on your upcoming arrival. Brian has given you some GREAT tips. I would definitely wrap the cylindrical posts in sisal rope rather than a square (or do both). My bengal uses his to climb up onto his platforms on his cat tree. Most platforms do have a ridge around them so the cat doesn't roll over and fall off. Doesn't have to be that high.

You have done an amazing job with this cat tree. As handy as my husband is, I have purchased three cat trees for our bengal. As for the height -- the higher the better. Bengals seem to love to be way up there looking down on you. Mine tends to use the lower platforms, but he is on the upper platforms of his trees. I think you can be proud of being so creative. I know your little one will certainly love it.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 7:38 pm 
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Thank you both for your advice. This will definitely help me when I make my next two "things" (I call them things because Im not sure what they will be yet)

To address some of the issues that Brian addressed:

1) Tall - 6'+ Next one will definitely be 6 feet or higher.
2) Scratching post - Just bought some Sisal rope so I'm going to wrap that front 4x4 and see how it looks.
3) Wider perches w/ ridges - Good idea! I honestly had no idea how big my kitten would be so I made them a bit small so he could use them when he's small. The ridges are a great idea though, I'll have to incorporate that into the next one.

As for the scratching posts and the climbing poles that you guys mentioned. Two questions.

#1) I do not have access to a lathe or a bandsaw and am having a hard time finding cylindrical wooden posts. I know most people use PVC piping to make it cylindrical, but if I cannot go that route, is it bad to use a 4x4 instead? A 4x4 is just a long square piece of wood. Do the cats prefer a circular shape to scratch on? I know Brian said "preferably cylindrical" but I can't really figure out how to do this yet.

#2) For the scratching posts, I have bought some sisal rope like I said. For the climbing poles that Brain mentioned, should I wrap them in carpet or with sisal? Or just leave it wooden. I don't know what they prefer so that's where you guys might be able to help me out :)

Also: Just stocked up on some more carpets!

Image

Thanks guys and gals!

Matt

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2016 11:04 am 
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Great job so far Matt - Your kitten is going to love that!
For the cylindrical posts, you can get a pre-turned wooden fence post and chop lengths to fit - The cat needs to drag its claws down, along and round the rope, and if there are right-angled edges you may be more likely have an accident where the claw gets stuck.. For some reason a circular post is easier for them to hold onto and lift the claw out, without ending up possibly ripping it out.
Make sure you use good staples to attach the rope, in steps along the length of the post, along with glue, or it WILL be pulled off by an active Bengal...lol.

Now all we need are pics of the soon to be owner... ;o)
Jo n Merlin

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2016 6:56 pm 
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Cats do love to scratch on carpet. Raiden's Molly and Friends cat tree has a sisal post and a carpet post and mine uses neither. You should be able to use a hot glue gun for the sisal on a metal cylinder. That is, if your cat will allow it to dry! For not having all the tools you need, you have done a GREAT job. Raiden's platforms are 15"x15" and his legs hang off the edge unless he is curled up in it. The ridges are only about an inch high and on mine, they do not go all around so there is an "exit" point for the cat so Raiden doesn't have to jump over the ridges. Here is a picture of Raiden's favorite tree.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:39 pm 
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Jodonut: I have found a solution to my square 4x4 problem! Below are pictures of my solution in case anyone comes across this problem in the future. (Not sure how many DIY'ers there are out there but maybe this will help somebody someday :)

Sherry: Thanks again for all your help and thank you for the dimensions of the perches and the ridges. Will take those into account for the thing I am building right now. Currently just got the scratching post done, need to build two more platforms and attach them, and then carpet the whole thing. Might be done by tonight if I work quickly lol

Here are the pictures of the rounded post I created:
(Sorry some of the pictures are angled, Tinypic doesn't like me very much lol)

Step #1: Use table saw to cut off corners. Set table saw at 45 degrees, blade should be protruding past the wood at least 1/4". Cut off 4 corners using a fence. After the 45 degree cuts, you will be left with an octagonal piece of wood. This means it now has 8 corners instead of 4 (square). You need to now set the table saw at 22.5 degrees and trim off the remaining 8 corners.

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Step #2: Use bench plane (if available) or wood chisels to clean up any corners (non-rounded spots) left by the table saw. Sand to desired finish with 120 grit sandpaper.

Image

Step #3: Use a buntline hitch knot to secure sisal rope to the top of the round post. Using wood glue (Titebond) slowly start squirting glue out in lines and pull the rope tight while winding it around the post. After some time (and lots of frustration) oh my gosh the gluing process was so not fun- I managed to get it all tightly wound. At the end, I simply used hot glue (had a bit of wood glue underneath as well) to fasten the last 4-5 lines.

Image

Sorry for all the writing, hope somebody finds this useful someday.

OK back to building :) Really enjoying the past week, had the week off work! Eureka! Time to build cat stuff lol.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:57 pm 
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Wow! Brilliant job.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2016 10:19 pm 
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You could go into business they look so great. Next you should put some cat shelves on the wall.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2016 10:04 am 
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Brilliant job Matt - You certainly went the extra mile on that rounded post!
You have a very lucky kitty coming home to you soon. :razz:

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2016 6:06 pm 
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Asian Leopard Cat

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Honestly, Matt, you are doing an amazing job with this tree. Your solution to a cylindrical piece of wood is truly incredible. I I don't understand angles and planes, but I have a creative husband who wasn't even interested in creating a cat tree for Raiden. Just so much easier to purchase. But the love and dedication that you have put into this will make it all the more special for your boy. And ... a bengal can never have too many cat trees!!! I've hear the sisal wrapping is the hardest part ...... but you will feel so much pride when you see your little guy using it.

Just awesome!


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2016 7:53 pm 
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Thanks Sherry :) Cant wait to see him use it.

Jodonut: Thank you! I will show you all some pics of the lil guy after Jan 9 when I pick him up. :)

Jill: Your climbing shelves look awesome!! Unfortunately, I live with my mom (I am 22), just finished school and started working, and it's one thing for me to build cat furniture, but Im not sure how my mom would feel about me drilling into the studs for the shelves. I will have to ask her, although I know how to fix the holes in drywall so it wouldn't be too hard.

Brian: Thank you! Your advice in your earlier post helped me a lot and will continue to help with my future projects. Many thanks :)

Here is a picture of my cat-tree-bed (just the frame, needs carpeting now): I really didn't get much time to work on this at all yesterday but I am going to start carpeting it today and hopefully I can post a finished picture soon. Also, the steps on the left side, the scratching post and the ladder poles at the front (near the hole) are not secured permanently yet. So if you have any ideas to make it better, you are welcome to share :)

Image

For anyone who is interested in overall pricing of my projects:

The first picture I posted of the mid-sized climbing tree->
$18 for a 3/4" sheet of OSB (had a bunch leftover for next project too), $5 for leftover 2x4's, $5 of old screws, $10 of old leftover carpets and one new accent carpet for $6.
Total = ~$48 CAD (with leftover 3/4" OSB)

This next climbing tree-bed->
$8 for 1/2" sheet of OSB, $15 for lumber, $10 for screws, $50 for large 4' x 10' sheet of carpet (will have some leftovers too), two accent carpets for $6 each.
Total = ~$95 CAD (with leftover carpets, 1/2" OSB and lumber)

The climbing trees at the Petsmart or Petvalu are nearly $100 each (for the small ones!!!), with some of them even going above $200. I probably won't be building a ton of these once I am back to work but it's been fun so far :)

Also here is a video that inspired me to do start building:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okOVxfuSYPk&t=36s

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2017 6:23 pm 
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I believe I paid about $107 for the Armarkat one for Raiden. Thing is, when you do it yourself, you custom make it to suit what your kitty is going to need. One cat tree is fine for the time being -- and may be fine forever. Raiden has an outdoor enclosure, so there is a tree out there except for the winter time. I bring it inside and he will hang out on it occasionally.

I cannot wait to see your finished product. Are you going to paint or wrap the condo in the carpet? Your little one arrives soon and I know you want it completely finished and ready! You are super resourceful and your tree should last a lifetime (for one cat). I have a friend with five indoor cats and she goes through a tree a year with them.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2017 9:18 am 
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Sherry wrote:
I believe I paid about $107 for the Armarkat one for Raiden. Thing is, when you do it yourself, you custom make it to suit what your kitty is going to need. One cat tree is fine for the time being -- and may be fine forever. Raiden has an outdoor enclosure, so there is a tree out there except for the winter time. I bring it inside and he will hang out on it occasionally.

I cannot wait to see your finished product. Are you going to paint or wrap the condo in the carpet? Your little one arrives soon and I know you want it completely finished and ready! You are super resourceful and your tree should last a lifetime (for one cat). I have a friend with five indoor cats and she goes through a tree a year with them.


It's pretty appealing to me, buying a big premade tree from one of those good companies. Maybe one day..

But for now, I made an interesting discovery today. One that will end up costing me more money if I make more of these cat trees, but one that might also help prolong the life of our feline friends. One that has also been worrying me quite a bit.

I have been using OSB engineered wood sheets to make my cat furniture (almost all the other ones I've seen sold in stores use OSB as well) as well as regular douglas fir lumber (2x4's). I was at the Home Depot today looking for 4x4's to make a big scratching post, and for some reason they didn't have 4x4's in douglas fir. They only had pre-treated sienna and natural cedar. I suddenly had a Eureka moment and I started to wonder if any of the wooden materials that I was using could be harmful to my cat (or to me)!

Here is what I found (the general breakdown of how harmful treated wood is):
(source: http://www.canidae.com/blog/2010/08/dan ... -for-pets/)
(source: https://www.nachi.org/osb-plywood.htm)

- If it is natural wood and untreated, it is likely OK for humans or cats. (exotic woods excluded)

- Treated lumber, such as pre-treated sienna, are often used for outdoor decking applications and are treated with a chemical (chromate copper arsenate) that helps prevent rot but are suspected of having bad health effects for pets/humans. In the article it says "toxicity of CCA can be increased by 1) inhalation of gas from the burning of CCA-treated wood, 2) eating the CCA-treated wood, 3) splinter under the skin causing infection, 4) physical contact if the wood is wet and 5) possible the off-gasing of the wood itself.

- Sheet goods (like plywood, OSB, particle board) all contain a ton of glues and fixatives. In these glue mixtures, the manufacturers for some reason use formaldehyde which is known to off-gas as well as be carcinogenic.

-In order of most to least in terms of off-gasing: particle board > OSB > plywood.

Because I already spent so much time and money making my two cat climbing trees, and 99% of the OSB is covered with carpet, I am going to still use them. But I plan on buying better materials and making a completely 100% carcinogen free climber. Another thing I am going to do is leave my two pieces of cat furniture outside in my garage for a few days (before my cat comes)- apparently if you leave it for a few days or weeks it can off-gas outside and that will eliminate some of the risk.

So for my next projects, I will be switching over to cedar posts for 4x4's (they are 2-3x lighter than douglas fir too, and way lighter than treated sienna) and I will do my best to get some high quality plywood from a plywood distributor. I can't stand to think about putting my baby into a box that is slowly killing him by off-gasing. Going to really cost an arm and a leg now. I wonder if any of the current big cat furniture makers have taken this into account.

What do you guys think about this issue? Do you think I am overreacting?

Meanwhile, progress on the cat condo lol... (Sry again for the angled picture, tinypic is awesome lol)

Image

The two platforms on the left will probably be carpeted on the top. And on the ladder, I will probably carpet the individual rungs. And that long thin pole on the right side will be carpeted for part of it and sisal-roped for part of it.

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