DIY Cat Sisal Tree

Originally posted 2016-05-16 17:00:06.

One of the things I had to prepare for in my move to the Caribbean was that there were no actual “pet stores” around Nevis and St. Kitts. We’ll eventually be able to ship things in, slowly, but in order for us to get used to how things are, we have to either go without, make due with an improvised temporary option, or find a completely new permanent solution.

Cat trees are definitely not a high priority item in a developing country’s “to buy” list for household items, so that leaves me with having to purchase a new couch every place we rent here, or I find the supplies and make a tree for the claws of Kaylee.

Lil Miss Kaylee Buttons Merrin

Lil Miss Kaylee Buttons Merrin – how can I not want to spoil those big baby blues?

I will say, I’ve made them so much faster in the past, with a pair of gloves, a rotating tool that you can attach the wood piece to and spin the sisal on as a thread-to-spool idea, so if you have those at your convenience, it will save you time and raw hands. You can use a solid block of any size as the ‘trunk’ rather than two pieces that are the same size drilled/nailed together – whichever is easiest for you!

Here’s how I made this one.

the wonderful people at the Craft House, near Charlestown, Nevis, put this together for me for free.

the wonderful people at the Craft House, near Charlestown, Nevis, allowed me to find three pieces in the wood bin, and then put this base together for me for free.*link to their fb page on the picture*


  • patience – if you’re doing this by hand, this is the most important tool you need.
  • two or three pieces of wood for the trunk

Screenshot 2016-05-15 10.47.35

  • one large sturdy piece for the base – make sure there is enough space so the cat can stand on it  with at least one paw while scratching.

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  • sisal twine (works best, as it won’t hurt the cat or fray as easily as yarn, and holds up to wetness better) Screenshot 2016-05-15 10.46.44
  • double-ended tacks – don’t use glue. it can get into their claws and that can be highly toxic to cats.

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  • hammer/mallet – something to bang those tacks in.
  • knife (ie exacto knife) – to cut the sisal
  • nails (with the hammer) or screws (with a drill) to attach the pieces together – max you will need is 4 screws to secure it properly and make sure the base is well attached. You don’t want your sweet little Fluffybum to get hurt if it’s not secure and tips over onto them!Screenshot 2016-05-14 16.55.38
  • gloves – especially if you have sensitive skin, you may want to grab some gardening gloves, as they will protect your hands from the fibers as they are rubbing past your fingertips and palms.


Step 1:
Attach the pieces together that make the trunk if you are using more than one, and then connect the base to the trunk.

Screenshot 2016-05-15 10.47.58

Step 2:
Tack the Sisal close to the base, going WITH the grain of the wood, so you’re not creating a crack. This will preserve the longevity of the actual woodwork. If you have two pieces screwed together for the trunk, use the tack on either side of the seam, to strengthen the bond of the wood pieces.
Screenshot 2016-05-15 10.48.30
Step 3:
Wrap the sisal. TIGHT. This is going to get a bit time consuming, so you might want to toss on your favourite Netflix binge show to pass the time. The sisal will twist up on itself, and at some points, you may get frustrated and want to cut it. That’s cool. Every time you do, make sure you double-ended tack it on a seam.

Screenshot 2016-05-15 10.48.36

wrap. and wrap. and wrap some more.

wrap. and wrap. and wrap some more.

Step 4:
The top part isn’t going to be pretty, especially if you have two different sizes like I did as my top area. I folded the sisal in half 5 times, and laid it down like a toupee on the angle I had to work with, and tacked it in crudely, before wrapping it up and down around the main body of the trunk to secure it.

Screenshot 2016-05-15 10.49.51

Your cat isn’t going to judge your crafting abilities, they’re too busy judging you that you have spent all that time ignoring them and not petting them and reminding them they are the most important creature in the universe.
Step 5:
Make sure the top is secure, and wrap back down from the top of the trunk to the base. This will create a second protective layer between the wood – which is usually chemically treated to withstand years of use – the tacks, and add an extra depth to the scratch-ability.

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Step 6:
Finishing it off is as simple as leaving a bit of a tail, tacking it down as securely and close to the base as possible, and then back-wrapping that tail over the tack itself, feeding it into the wrapped layers above and below the tack.

tack and sisal

tack and sisal

Step 7:
Cry that your cat not only merely sniffs it, but proceeds to use the couch beside it in spiteful protest instead. But I’m proud of your hard work! YAY YOU!!

Screenshot 2016-05-15 10.49.57
Stay tuned, because soon Clumsy’s Creative Caribbean Corner will be on Twitch, bringing you new fun crafts, “first tastes” and so much more!

Sera Hicks on Blogger
Sera Hicks
Creative Journey Leader, Intern Supervisor, Admin, Writer at Geeks and Geeklets
Geeky Hobbit-loving Whovian. Lover of chocolate, cats, and crafty things. Writer, Creative Journey Leader. It has to be better tomorrow.