At American Pets Alive!, we firmly believe in tailoring best practices to suit our unique situation. In rescue, resources and manpower are already spread so thin – do NOT try to recreate the wheel!
At Austin Pets Alive!, Ringworm Ward Manager Brittany Dell’Aglio Mitchell faces these challenges every day. The itchy kitties in her care need a comfortable, relaxing place to hang out, and at the same time Brittany needs all surfaces to be cleanable- and affordably acquired!
Check out these plans she perfected for cheap and easy-to-clean cat trees made of PVC pipes and tarps!
In order to cut each pipe, just use a hack saw or PVC cutters!
Brittany used 1/2″ Schedule 40 PVC for the structure. You may need to up the diameter of pipe if you’re trying to make them free-standing (ours are mounted onto the walls with hose clamps).
Each platform is a square constructed with 18″ pieces of pipe. The two top platforms are held at the corners with 3-way PVC connectors. The outermost vertical pieces are also 18″ long each, and connected together with each platform with 4-way, right angle PVC connectors.
The interior vertical supports are constructed with 8.5″ pieces of PVC, as the connectors Brittany used add 1″ where the two vertical pieces come together.
The actual platforms themselves were made by cutting a tarp into 20″ by 40″ pieces. The tarp was folded in half, and she used a grommet-setting tool to add grommets to the corner of each piece, as well as halfway down each side.
She added small 2″ squares of the tarp material in between each half of the grommet, between the metal and the platform pad (i.e: bottom half of grommet, 2″ piece, tarp, 2″ piece, top half of grommet). This prevents the metal edges of the grommet from piercing the tarp when the cats jump on it. Sewing also works, but makes the cat tree harder to clean without disassembling. The tarp was then attached to the PVC structure with zip ties.
Brittany used silicone caulk as an adhesive in the joints where the PVC pipe went into the connectors. They make PVC cement, but she found that the caulk was strong enough to add some stability to the joints when squirted inside the connectors, but isn’t permanent and can be pulled apart with a decent amount of force (she wanted to be able to disassemble the structures in a few years if necessary.)
She couldn’t find 1/2″ 3- and 4-way connectors at the local hardware store, so she went with the cheapest place she found to order them online – a company called DP’s Bargain Basement. They come shipped in an unmarked cardboard box with no packing slip or identifying paperwork, which we think is hilarious, but do not fear!