Are Cat Trees Dangerous For Cats? (What To Look For)

You’re thinking about getting a new cat tree for your cat. But you’re not sure which cat tree to get and what to look for to keep your feline friend safe. You’ll find tips to help you find cat friendly furniture that doesn’t have harmful toxins.

Are Cat Trees Dangerous For Cats

Cat trees that are made from NAUF (No Added Urea Formaldehyde) and cat safe materials such as carpet, corrugated cardboard, wood, and braided ropes tend to be safer for cats.

Keep reading and we’ll cover the safest cat trees to purchase as well the structure, weight limit, where it’s made and other other factors to consider to keep your cat safe.

But first let’s take a look at what a cat tree is and whether or not your indoor cat needs one.

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What Is A Cat Tree?

are cat trees safe

It’s a piece of furniture that allows them to climb, sleep, perch, play, scratch, and jump.

Do Cats Need A Cat Tree?

Not everyone can afford a cat tree and some people live in small apartments that don’t have a lot of space. That being said, cats like to jump, and sit high on perches to get away from dogs, animals, and children.

People live in a horizontal work, where cats live in a vertical world and rely on elevated spaces to feel safe, comfortable, get exercise and have fun.

Having access to a cat tree makes it easy for your kitty to get some alone time. If they don’t have access one, you may find your feline friend climbing on your refrigerator, cabinets, sofas and etc.

Are Cat Trees Safe For Kittens?

are cat trees safe for kittens

Like cat food, cat furniture is available based on the life stage of your feline friend. For a small 8-12 week kitten, you may want to consider getting a starter tree like the 24″ inch modern cat tree that is only two feet tall. It’s the perfect tree for a small kitten that is just starting to learn how to climb, jump, and play. Find out how tall a cat tree should be and whether or not your cat can get hurt.

While kittens are fairly low mass and have flexible bones they usually won’t be hurt if they fall from a low height. However, if they fall from 10 feet high, they may get hurt, so a smaller cat tree can keep your kitten safe.

The best part is you won’t have to worry about your kitten climbing to the top of the perch and being scared to come down. At two feet tall, you’ll be able to reach her without getting a ladder.

At 8-12 weeks, your kitty will start scratching and sharpening her nails, so don’t forget to invest in a scratching post.

Are Cat Trees Safe For Cats?

non toxic cat furniture

Most cat trees safe, you can even find cat trees for senior cats that aren’t as active.

Here’s a list of what to look for when shopping for the right one for your cat.

Structural Materials

Choose a design that has a heavy weighted base that will be able to withstand your cat’s weight, especially, if you have more than one cat using the tree.

Solid Wood

The ones that have a solid wood frame are heavier and will last longer. They are much stronger when compared to the ones constructed with plywood. The Vesper Cat Tree is an elegant yet durable cat tree that is perfect for multiple cats.

Other materials used for cat trees.

Particle Board

Particleboard is a waste product that’s constructed out of adhesives and sawdust. It is used mostly for furniture and underlayment. The downside is that it can swell up if it gets wet, so make sure you don’t keep your cat’s water bowl away from it.


Plywood is a wood product that consists of thin layers of wood veneer glued together. It is generally used for structural, exterior, furniture, and uses. It is more durable than particle board, the downside it has a low resistance to humidity and moisture.

Recycled Cardboard

Some cat trees and scratch posts are constructed from corrugated cardboard to make them environmentally friendly. Many people are attracted to these because they are recyclable and easy to get rid of when you get a new one.

The downside is that foods that are sold in cardboard cartons were found to contaminate the foods. They discovered that they contained minerals that came from printing ink. (source)

Avoid cat furniture and scratchers that are designed from cardboard. You don’t want to expose your cat to any toxins if they chews or eats the furniture. Some cats suffer from Pica, which is a compulsive disorder that causes them to eat plastic, cardboard, paper, and anything else they can sink their teeth in.


Cat trees are held together with wood glue, staples, and etc depending on how it’s constructed. It’s important to find one that has carpeting that covers the screws, glue, and other construction material that can harm your kitty.

Placement of Tree

Keep the cat furniture away from furniture, light fixtures, and plants. Cats love to chew things and you don’t want them to chew a toxic plant that can cause them harm.

It’s best to put the cat furniture in a corner by a window. Cats love to lounge on the highest perch and look out the window to see what’s going on.

If you live in a small apartment, condo or small space you will want to measure use a measuring tape to get the exact dimensions so you know the exact size you’ll need.

Toxic Material That Is Found In Cat Trees and Furniture

are cat trees dangerous for cats

Unfortunately, cats can be exposed to all kinds of toxic materials when you assemble the cat tree, without you knowing it.

When searching for the perfect tree to keep your kitty safe, make sure you avoid the following materials.

Toxic Materials That Can Be Found In Cat Trees

  • Bisphenol A (BPA) – Is a chemical that is commonly used to manufacture plastics and polycarbonate. A study has shown that it can disrupt your pet’s microbiome and metabolism.
  • Lead – This is a very well known toxin that was banned in 1978. It’s possible for cats to lick and ingest paint chips and this can cause damage to multiple organs including the nervous system and gastrointestinal tract.
  • Phthalates – A group of toxic chemicals that are used in both dog and cat toys. These toxins enter your pet’s body through their gums or skin and can cause liver and kidney damage.
  • Formaldehyde – A common industrial cleaner that is used in many household products, that can put your cat at risk to liver and kidney damage, cancer, and anemia.
  • Arsenic – A heavy metal mineral that can cause vomiting, loss of consciousness, and even fatality when exposed in heavy doses.
  • Bromine – It is a compound that is used as a flame retardant and is commonly found in furniture foam, such as cat beds. Exposure to your pet can cause an upset tummy, constipation, vomiting, muscle spasms and tremors, pancreatitis, and loss of appetite.

Why NAUF Is Important

NAUF (No Added Urea Formaldehyde) is a resin that is used as a permanent adhesive. Pets that are exposed to this compound can cause eye and skin irritations. According to a study, animals that were exposed to formaldehyde were observed:

  • Guinea pigs and rabbits that were exposed to 40–70 ppm for 10 days produced lacrimation, but sustained no corneal injury.
  • Rats that were exposed to 0.83 and 2.5 ppm levels for 3 months experienced neuron and cerebral amygdaloid complex.

You can read the full study @

It’s easy to think, but how much formaldehyde will my cat’s furniture be exposed to? It’s true no one is blowing formaldehyde air in your cat’s eyes or putting it in their food (like the study above). But daily exposure to formaldehyde can cause health problems over the long term.

The more you can limit your cat’s exposure to formaldehyde, the better off they will be

Cat Safe Materials For Toys and Furniture

Here’s a list of non-toxic materials that you should look out for when shopping for toys or furniture.

It’s important to note that all materials and new products can hold hazards for your cat, so it’s important to monitor them at the beginning to ensure they stay safe.

  • Carpet
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Sisal
  • Braided Ropes

Where Is The Cat Tree Made?

Every country has their own standards when it comes to making pet furniture, toys, and etc. Avoid getting one that is made in other countries like China.

These countries don’t have the same manufacturing regulations like the United States. They may not have any regulations against using some of the toxic materials that have been banned or deemed unsafe.

Some manufacturers will put profits before safety when it comes to pet supplies. Unfortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only regulates cat food and not toys, beds, crates, cat litter, or furniture.

So it’s up to you to inspect everything thoroughly to keep your feline friend safe!

Bottom Line

Cat trees are generally safe for cats. As a cat owner, you need to read the reviews and find out what the product is made of to ensure that it’s safe for your feline friend.

The most important thing to remember is there is no one size fits all cat furniture.