Friday, December 16, 2011

Oh Kitty Tree, Oh Kitty Tree

It was evident from a very early age...

I kept hoping that he'd grow out of it...

But I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that my dear, sweet, precious Smoky Bear...

... is a climber.

I'm told that there is only one surefire treatment for this disorder, so as the holidays draw near, I've decided to stage an intervention. I'm not certain whether this act was motivated by pure selfless kitty love, or by a somewhat more monetarily based sense of self-preservation...

But I have come to the conclusion that this house is in desperate need of a kitty tree for Christmas!

No, no! Not that kind of Christmas kitty tree! I can only imagine what would happen if I ever got an actual Christmas tree... perhaps something like this...

Or maybe this...

OK, lest I digress into a frenzy of posting adorable pictures of cats climbing Christmas trees...

No... I said enough already...

OK, seriously now... if you've noticed a bit of an absence in my blogging activities lately, it's because I've been sucked into the vortex of building my kids a kitty tree for Christmas.

I actually thought about buying one at first, but if you go that route you either get cheap plastic crap from China, or you risk succumbing to a coronary just looking at the price tags on those suckers! To be honest, neither of the above really seemed like a good option. 

Plus, over the years, I have observed that there is definitely an inverse relationship between the amount of money spent, and the degree to which the cats enjoy the gift.

So, at CatMan's suggestion I decided to try my hand building one.

Now... carpentry is not exactly something that I excel at.

I also suffer from a tad bit of Ergalilektriphobia. I kid you not folks, this is a real word meaning fear of power tools. I think this stems from having an overprotective father who instilled the phobia at a very young age... well, that and the fact that I once took a call from a student when I was working at the music school... he called to cancel his lesson because he had cut off half of his hand with a table saw! It still creeps me out to think about it.

OK, so my goal was to create a kitty tree that would fit into the unused corner space between my couch and love-seat,  to spend under $50 in supplies, and to do it with as few cuts as possible!

Fortunately, on several fronts, the former owner of this house was an avid woodworker, and he left behind a plethora of wood scraps in the garage. So I didn't have to go far to find pretty much all of the wood I needed... AND... I stumbled upon a stash of nicely mitered pieces of plywood that were just perfect for my corner location! SCORE!!!

Then I needed something to cover it with. I went round and round on this one. I didn't want to get new carpet because of the off-gassing and smell, and I didn't want used carpet because gawd knows what's in it. So finally I found somebody on FreeCycle who had a bunch of unused carpet scraps that had been sitting in her garage for several years conveniently off-gassing most of their nasty new carpet smell! Oh, the kitty gods were smiling upon me! 

Now, at this point, most sane people would make a plan... but you know me, I'm just not that much of a fan of planning, so I dove right in.

Within a few days I had the basic framework built...

Of course, it had to be inspected along the way for quality control...

Then came the task of carpeting the sucker... and I've gotta say... after a few days of that, those exorbitant price tags were starting to seem downright reasonable! But I persevered, and even got a bit of help with the sisal rope winding portion of the exercise. 

The sisal was actually the only part that I had to spend any money on. I ended up using about 350 feet of it, and it cost me about $35, so I actually came in about $15 under budget. And I'd say that for a person who didn't really have a clue what she was doing, it didn't turn out half bad.

Now we just need to add a few "decorations" to my newly constructed "Christmas tree" and viola! Now it looks complete! (Note the adorable and finally pacified star sitting at the top.)

You know, in a funny way this whole little project has sort of helped me to reclaim a bit of the Christmas spirit. Christmas, for me, has always been a dreadful time when all of the family dysfunction bubbles to the surface with obligatory gift giving and other forms of pretending that we're just one big happy family.

But making the kitty tree, I felt a tad bit like Pa from Little House on the Prairie, out in the barn making surprise gifts for all of the kids... of course sans barn and sans surprise... and technically, sans kid, but you know what I mean.

I guess it made me realize that I really do have a big, happy family... it's just not the one I was born into!

 Merry Christmas Everybody!


  1. Dude, I am seriously impressed. That is a super fabulous kittah tree! Now, please build 2 more for my mother. She now has 15 rescue cats. She said she woke up the other day with a new stray kitty in her bed. Apparently, it followed the other cats through the special kitty door!

  2. Awwww... that's so sweet about you mother's new stray kitten. That happened to my mom once too. I was actually visiting her at the time, and I woke up in the morning and noticed there was a cat snuggling with me in bed. I looked down and was shocked to discover a kitten that I had never seen before! My mom adopted her (sort of at my insistence) and they became the best of buddies. This is yet another reason I don't have a cat door... seriously, I'd have 30-40 of them taking up residence in no time flat!

    BTW - I just finished putting the finishing touches on the tree and discovered, to my horror, that the drill had been set on reverse this entire time! NO WONDER I had such a hard time making the fucker work. What an idiot I am! Note to self: always check to be sure the drill is rotating forward before assuming that the problem is just that you're a wuss!

  3. Aww! Great tree! Having survived Christmas tree climbing cats and tree eating dogs, totally great idea!
    One thing we've learned that you might still want to do, is to either not put ornaments on the lower third of your tree or make sure whatever you hang there is cat proof! Inevitably they will become cat toys anyway...
    Great photos/captions.

  4. Good job! And Ergalilektriphobia? I TOTALLY have that.

  5. Jay - Well, I think the only ornaments that will be adorning this tree are the felines themselves, so no worries there!

    Steph - It seems like a fairly reasonable phobia to me!

  6. Yay! So cute! So happy-cat-oriented! So frugal!

  7. Pa would have carved flowers and pretty things into it. ;)

    1. Ha! And he probably would have cursed a lot less too!


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