How to Build Cat Shelves

cat on shelves

Cat shelves will provide your feline with a way to expend energy and have fun so they don’t get bored.

These animals love to jump around, so this is a great investment to make for your pet.

1. Gather Your Supplies

Before you can get started building any cat shelves, you’ll have to gather some supplies. You should be able to get everything you need from a local hardware store.

  • Wood: You can either purchase new wood from the store or use old pieces of furniture to save some money. Make sure that the material you use is sturdy and will stand the test of time.
  • Brackets: Buy some brackets that are the appropriate size for the pieces of wood you are going to use for the shelves.
  • Staple gun: A staple gun will make this job a lot easier. If you don’t already a staple gun, you should be able to get one pretty cheap at the store.
  • Safety goggles: It is important that you wear safety goggles while doing this work to protect your eyes.
  • Screwdriver: You also want to have a screwdriver and some screws on hand for this project. This will keep the brackets on the wood firmly in place.
  • Level: A level is needed to ensure that the shelves are properly affixed to your wall.
  • Fabric: You’ll want to have some sort of fabric to put on the shelves so they are comfortable for your cat to walk on.

2. Determine the Size of the Shelves

Once you have all of your supplies, you will need to determine how large you want your shelves to be. This will require you to draw lines on the wood with pencil to mark where you are going to cut.

You can use a manual saw to cut the wood, but a power saw will get the job done faster and with more accuracy. Make sure that you cut straight along the lines you have marked with your pencil.

3. Sand the Wood

If you are using reclaimed wood to build your cat shelves, you will need to sand it all over. This will ensure that the shelves are completely smooth. It will also keep your cat from getting any splinters in its paws when it walks on the shelves.

You can sand the wood manually with a piece of sandpaper, or use an orbital sander to get the job done. It is recommended that you actually you use both of these tools to ensure a thoroughly and evenly sanded surface.

two cats at shelves

4. Put on the Finish

While you don’t have to apply a finish to your cat shelves, it might make them look a little bit nicer. You can use a stain, veneer, or even just paint to do accomplish this.

Take some time to think about how you want the shelves to look before you make a decision on a certain finish. You’ll probably want to choose a color that goes well with the rest of the room in terms of your furniture and décor.

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5. Put on the Brackets

Next you will need to take your metal brackets and affix them to the wood. The screws that you use to keep the brackets in place should be flush with the wood, so they aren’t sticking out.

Put the shorter side of the bracket against the wood so that the longer end is completely flush. You will then need to fix the bracket in place using either a screwdriver or a power drill. Again, a power tool will definitely get the job done faster.

If you are using more than one bracket on the wood pieces, you’ll need to make sure that they are an even distance apart. It is also important to confirm that the shelves will be resting flat against the wall with no space in between.

cat shelves

6. Attach the Fabric

You will then need to attach the fabric covering to the surface of the shelves. This can easily be done with a staple gun. Make certain that the staples are firmly embedded in the wood as you are doing this. 

You don’t want any staples sticking out, as it could injure your cat. If you notice any staples that are not flush against the wood, you can use a hammer to pound them down.

7. Mount the Shelf

Finally, you will want to mount your new shelves to the wall. You can do this by attaching some anchors to the wall with as many screws as needed. 

You’ll want to be absolutely certain that the shelves are stable and not shaky at all. Test them out by putting something on them that is roughly the weight of your cat. If you notice any wobbling, you will need to do a better job of anchoring the shelves to the wall.

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Another option you have for mounting your shelves is to have wood screws going into metal studs. This will provide you with total stability. You can use a stud locator to find out where the studs are in your wall.


  • Cat shelves can provide your feline friend with hours of entertainment and fun at home.
  • Decide how large you want your cat shelves to be (consider the width of your walls and how much space you have to work with).
  • Make sure that you have gathered all of your supplies before getting started with this project.
  • Give the wood you use to build your cat shelves a good sanding with a 220 grit paper as well as a power sander tool.
  • Apply a good looking stain/finish to the wood for a nice overall aesthetic.
  • Make sure that the brackets are firmly attached to the shelves.
  • Put the fabric covering on the shelves carefully with a staple gun so that no staples are protruding from the wood.
  • You can use anchors or wood screws and studs to mount your shelves. Make certain that the shelves are firmly in place and do not wobble at all.