Ms. Chan, 26, allocated a budget of $150 toward upgrading her cat Bootsy’s home. Over the summer, she spent about six days filming the process of stripping and replacing the carpet scraps. She consulted Marci Koski, a cat behaviorist, and learned that Bootsy prefers sisal rope as a scratching post. (A disco ball was also installed to satisfy Bootsy’s lust for shiny objects.)
“The goal was to not have it be so hideous,” said Ms. Chan. “In a small apartment, a cat tree takes up so much real estate so you need to have something cute.”
For some time now, aesthetically pleasing cat trees have been popping up on social media. Some may feature vegetable-dyed scratch pads or organic catnip leaf, others a Greek marble base. Behind this reimagination of feline furniture are companies like Cat Haus, Tuft and Paw, Rinn, Petfusion, Litterbox, MiaCara, Tateno and Cattsup.
Lora Lombardi, the 28-year-old founder of Cat Haus, began building cat furniture when her gray Tabby cat, Tuesday, started scratching all the furniture in her new apartment. Ms. Lombardi, who is based in Portland, Ore., takes a sustainable approach to her pieces, building patchwork cat towers out of repurposed materials.
“I decided to make her a cat scratcher that wasn’t boring, soulless, beige or from a MegaCorp,” she said.
When Axelle Vertommen, 28, couldn’t find a scratching post that fit with the interior of her home in Antwerp, Belgium, she decided to create her own out of cardboard. In 2018, the interior architect and furniture designer started developing the “gattorre,” a collection of four postmodern scratching posts that cost 275 euros (about $325) each.
In 2001, Kenneth Yuzva was running a carpet company in Los Angeles when he realized he could merge his knowledge of rugs and carpets with 3-D design skills to make custom animal furniture.
In 2003, he founded Hollywood Kitty Company and expanded his carpet business into a makeshift pet furniture factory. Instagram has helped grow his business, and since the pandemic began, Mr. Yuzva, who is now based in Cleveland, Ohio, has seen a 20 percent growth in his orders.
For $899 and a wait time of over a year, customers can get their own “enchanted forest kitty sanctuary.” The piece, which takes Mr. Yuzva 250 hours to build, features seven levels and can accommodate over 20 cats.
“I can’t really guarantee that carpet is going to last 100 years, but I do everything I can to get these things to be as strong and well-built as possible,” Mr. Yuzva, 47, said.
Ms. Portillo didn’t mind spending $179 on her cat scratcher because cat trees are “already expensive, so you might as well get a cute one.” She said the heart-shaped piece has become a favorite of her two Persian cats, Sunny and Rodney: “They don’t go anywhere, so I would rather get them something nice where they’re happy, too.”
Since you made it this far, here are some the best cat trees for apartments according to Wirecutter, a product review website owned by The New York Times Company.