How to Repair an Old Cat Tree
Cat trees are a must-have for the feline in your life. They allow cats to have scratching posts, as well as their own areas to climb, play, and sleep.
But cats put their claws to good use, tearing up trees over time. I recently noticed that one of my cats’ trees was worn out. The sisal rope was coming off, and the fabric was torn. But I couldn’t find another tree that was a similar height and style, and more complex ones were $100 or more.
The bones of this tree were still good, so rather than throw the entire thing out, I decided to repair it. It was surprisingly easy, so I decided to write up a guide.
Just remember to keep the kitties away while you’re doing the heavy-duty cleaning, cutting, and gluing.
- a stiff-bristled brush
- carpet cleaner
- sisal rope
- a knife or scissors
- fabric/wood glue (I used Gorilla glue) or a glue gun
- Soft fabric
- paper towels
My cost breakdown was about $25, but I had leftover materials to repair the tree again in the future.
Clean up the tree
First, check for areas of the tree where the fabric is still good. In my case, the bottom cloth was barely touched, so I didn’t need to replace it.
Brush off any fabric you want to keep, getting all the fur off of it. I used an old cat brush for this.
Then, use carpet cleaner to get rid of any stains or odors. When you’re done, the tree will already look a lot better.
Replace the rope
Cut off any old, frayed sisal rope with a sharp knife. It will take awhile to unwind it all.
If you’re not replacing all of the rope, you can try to find rope of a similar size and color. Hardware stores and online shops carry a variety of sisal rope. But if you can’t match it perfectly, don’t worry about it.
Glue on the new rope, winding it tightly to the posts. If you use a glue with a strong smell, you may want to pull the tree outside or into a garage while you work on it.
I wound the roll of rope around an old paper towel roll to keep it from tangling as I worked. The paper towels came in handy when pressing the prickly sisal rope to the post, and I placed one under the glue bottle in case some dripped out.
Replace the fabric
It’s important to replace the fabric as soon as rips appear. I bought some white “sherpa” fleece to match the color and style of my cats’ tree, but in a pinch, an old fleece blanket will do.
Measure the the width and depth of the area you’ll need to cover. I bought 1 yard of fabric, and had plenty left over.
Next, take the measurements, and cut out a square that’s a little bit larger on all sides, so you can glue it to the wood underneath the stand.
Cut off the old fabric. (This part took the longest for me, as the old fabric was securely stuck on.) Apply glue to the post, place the fabric on it, and apply glue to the bottom. Press down tightly to make sure the glue holds.
And voila! A remodeled cat tree.
A lot of trees come with toys dangling off them, but I always cut them off. Cats can get their paws tangled in them. Instead of attaching toys, place your cat tree up against a window so your pet can look outside.
The rule for cat trees is that everything should be fixed in place. Your cat will be climbing and jumping off it, so it needs to be sturdy, with nothing they can get caught or slip on.
It may take a few days for your kitty to start using the repaired tree, because to them a clean smell seems weird and new. You can either wait for them to try it out, or spray a little catnip on it to entice them.