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10 DIY Cat Shelves You Can Build Today!

Cats adore climbing, so if you want to treat your kitty to something special, building a DIY set of cat shelves is an excellent idea. Shelves add vertical enrichment to your cat’s environment. This is especially important for indoor cats, who don’t have the chance to climb trees and other obstacles outside.

If you don’t provide a dedicated space for your cat to practice their climbing skills, they’ll find places to do it themselves! From launching onto shelves full of delicate china to getting themselves stuck on top of the refrigerator, a cat will climb anything!

High spots give cats a sense of safety and security, with many cats choosing these spots for a nap or simply to lord it over their little kingdom from on high.

We reviewed hundreds of different designs and rounded up our favorite 10. From rustic shelves interspersed with greenery to eye-catching metal steampunk shelf systems, there’s something here for all tastes and DIY skill levels.

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1. Minimalist cat shelves with greenery


Perfect for a minimalist home, these rustic shelves made from untreated wood contrast perfectly with the hanging plants placed between them. For added interest, consider planting catnip and cat grass so your cat has something delicious to sniff and nibble on while they’re hanging out on their shelves.

Make sure you arrange the shelves so your cat can easily hop between them. We’d also place a few of the hanging planters a little closer to the shelves, so your cat can easily reach them, although that’s only recommended if you’re using plants that your cat can nibble on.

Skill Level: Medium

Materials
  • 6 untreated wooden shelves
  • 4 hanging planters in white metal
  • Invisible shelf brackets
Tools
  • Drill
  • Screws and wall plugs/anchors
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2. Honeycomb cat shelves


These distinctive shelves make an eye-catching feature wall that is bound to get plenty of comments. As these are part of a pre-made kit, it will take you less than 2 hours to get set up and ready to go. You can choose to connect the hexagonal shelves, place a few separately to add jumping challenges, and extend as you get more cats!

You can add cover plates to create a cozy den for cat naps and add even more vertical interest with walking platforms to connect different areas. You can let your imagination run wild, and your cat will definitely appreciate it.

Skill Level: Basic

Materials
  • MyZoo Busycat hexagonal shelves
Tools
  • Drill
  • Screws and wall plugs/anchors
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3. High cat-nap platform

If your cat loves tucking themselves onto the highest platform that they can reach, then build them their very own cat-nap platform. If you have any exposed beams in your house, you can even connect their platform to a beam, allowing your cat to practice their tightrope-walking skills.

You might get the jitters watching them, but we bet that your cat has been plotting how to get up there without your help, anyway!

Skill Level: Advanced

Materials
  • Pine floating shelves x 7
  • Floating shelf mounting kit
Tools
  • Drill
  • Screws and wall plugs/anchors
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4. Lampshade cat shelves


Sometimes it’s worth thinking laterally, and some lampshades actually make the perfect cat shelves with a little repurposing! A round woven lampshade made from seagrass or sisal is the perfect cat shelf! You can place one in your cat’s favorite spot (just make sure they can jump into it easily) or mix shelves and lamp shades to give your cat access to higher spots.

Choosing a lampshade with a firm metal top will make it easier to attach to your wall and safer for your cat. You can paint the metal to match the color of your wall or leave it unfinished. Your cat will probably also love using these lampshades as scratching surfaces, as well as a bed, so check them for damage regularly and replace them when necessary.

Skill Level: Basic

Materials
  • Woven lamp shades
Tools
  • Drill
  • Screws and wall plugs/anchors

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5. Ninja cat shelf

If your cat loves climbing, why not combine a high cat shelf with a carpet wall for the ultimate challenge? Place the shelf up as high as you dare, and cover the wall next to it with carpet or a roll of sisal matting. Once your cat has figured out what to do, watch as they launch themselves at the wall and use their climbing powers to jump up to the shelf.

Skill Level: Medium

Materials
  • Shelf
  • Wall brackets
  • Carpet or sisal matting
  • Glue
  • Scissors
Tools
  • Drill
  • Screws and wall plugs/anchors
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6. Doll bed shelves


Do you have cats that love sleeping up high? Add a cute twist to your cat shelves by using mini doll beds as shelves! Your cat will love jumping up to these, and you can get seriously sweet photos! If you’re placing these up high, make sure you add a few plain shelves underneath so your cat can access the bed shelf easily.

Skill Level: Basic

Materials
  • Wooden dolls beds the right size for your cat
  • Bedding
  • Long screws and wall plugs/anchors
Tools
  • Drill
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7. Rustic tree cat shelves


If you’d like to bring the outside in for your cat, then consider this rustic cat shelf design, which could almost be mistaken for a real tree! You might want to treat the tree trunk for bugs before bringing it into your house and remove any leaves. You’ll have to arrange the wooden rounds depending on the placement of the branches, but rest assured that your cat will be able to climb up the tree trunk no matter what!

Skill Level: Advanced

Materials
  • Silver birch or another decorative tree trunk
  • Wooden log rounds
  • Saw
  • Wood glue
Tools
  • Drill
  • Screws and wall plugs/anchors
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8. Cube Shelves


If you want to offer your cat something to climb but you also need extra storage, using single cube storage units from Ikea or any other store is a great solution. Some cats will climb to the top of these shelves and leave your items untouched, while others may decide to knock things off if they’re feeling mischievous! For that reason, it’s best to stick to using this storage space for books or other unbreakable items.

Arranging the cubes in a stairway design leading to the uppermost shelf with a cozy bed is a great idea. You may want to cut out a circle for your cat to access their bed, but this can easily be done with a jigsaw.

Skill Level: Medium

Materials
  • Small cube storage units
Tools
  • Drill
  • Screws and wall plugs/anchors
  • Jigsaw
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9. Steampunk cat shelving


Most cat shelves are made using wood, and while those look great, you might be looking for something a bit different. Besides having a distinctive steampunk vibe, these metal shelves are almost indestructible! You can paint the pipes any color you like, and either paint the shelves to match or go for a contrasting color. Adding grip tape to the top of the shelves adds a little security too.

Once you’ve figured out where you’re going to put the platforms for this shelving unit, you can get as creative as you like! Adding a feeding bowl platform is a great idea for keeping your kitty’s kibble away from dogs, and placing a covered cat bed at the top is a sure way to keep your cat happy.

Skill Level: Medium

Materials
  • Selection of ½ inch pipes and couplings
  • Painted wooden shelves
  • Grip tape
Tools
  • Drill
  • Screws and wall plugs/anchors
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10. Cat shelves with decals


These stylish shelves won’t look out of place in any house, and it’s your choice whether you want to add eye-catching cat silhouette decals! You will need advanced DIY skills to shape these shelves to your liking and to create the curved bed area and circular cut-outs for your cat to climb through.

Skill Level: Advanced

Materials
  • Plywood or other wood
  • Varnish
  • Brackets
Tools
  • Drill
  • Screws and wall plugs/anchors
  • Jigsaw

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Wrapping it up

Whether you’ve got basic DIY skills and are inspired to install a simple cat shelf using Ikea storage units or you’ve decided to put your talents to the test by creating a detailed shelving unit using metal piping, the world is your oyster when it comes to cat shelves!

Rest assured that whatever style you choose, your cat will be forever grateful for the opportunity to climb and nap in the highest spots possible.

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Featured Image Credit: Chomphuphucar, Shutterstock