Can You Buy A Used Cat Tree? [Is It Safe & What To Look For?]

With the high cost of cat furniture, it’s normal to wonder if you can buy a used cat tree. After all, no one wants to spend a lot of money on a cat condo or tree if you can find a second-hand one that will work just as well. So, let’s consider whether you should buy a new one and what to look for when shopping around.

There are no laws against using a second hand tree. Many people donate old cat trees to pet shelters or re-sell them online. However, it’s not the safest option as the old furniture might contain bacteria, viruses, fleas, and other parasites that could cause health problems for you and your cat. 

Many people, myself included, love saving money and are constantly looking for ways to get things cheaper. This article will explain everything you need to know about shopping for used furniture for your cat.

So let’s get started.

Are Second Hand Cat Trees Safe?

Cat trees and condos are made of porous carpet material. This means they can easily harbor bacteria, dust mites, and fleas. 

In addition, if you buy a second-hand cat tree, it might be difficult to tell whether or not the previous owner used any cleaners to disinfect the furniture. Some cleaners can be toxic to cats, and the furniture can still have some leftover residue.

Before getting a second hand cat tree at your local thrift store or online, there are a few things to consider that can affect your cat’s and family’s health.


Fleas are tiny insects that survive by feeding on an animal or human blood. Their bites can cause skin irritation and, in extreme cases, allergic reactions. 

The insects lay up to 50 eggs per day, which will cause an infestation throughout the house.

After hatching, the larvae become challenging to remove and can leap onto furniture, carpets, and upholstery. Not only that, but they can also carry eggs, roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms.

If your cat swallows a flea while grooming, it can become infected. When infected, the treatment can cost anywhere from $50-$150, depending on the severity of the issue.

How to Inspect for Fleas?

Before buying a second hand cat tree, inspect the tree thoroughly. Adult fleas are usually reddish-brown and the size of a sesame seed, while larvae are small and white. 

They will often hide in crevices, making it difficult to see them.

Place the cat tree outside or use a flashlight and magnifying glass to inspect for fleas and larvae. The flashlight works best when you turn it off for a few seconds and then turn it back on. The light mimics a shadow causing the host to jump.


Ticks are small arachnids (relatives of spiders and scorpions) usually found in wooded areas but can also be found within carpet fibers. They feed on the blood of animals and humans by embedding their mouth parts into the skin of their hosts.

Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis, which can cause symptoms such as fever, headaches, fatigue, and joint pain.

How to Inspect for Ticks

Like fleas, it is challenging to find ticks indoors. The best way to prevent them is to avoid bringing them in. Again, you’ll need a flashlight to thoroughly inspect the upholstered cat tree’s folds, tufts, and seems.


Mold is another potential health hazard found on second-hand furniture. The fungus can cause various respiratory symptoms and other illnesses, such as asthma, allergies, and sinus infections in cats and humans.

There are over 10,000 types of mold that can thrive indoors and outdoors. 

To identify mold, all you need to do is look for spots of discoloration. The discoloration ranges typically from green, black, grey, brown, or a combination of colors.

An infected cat tree will smell musty and stale. If you notice any discoloration or the furniture has an unpleasant smell, it is best to avoid buying it. 

Your cat won’t use it if it smells.

How to Inspect for Mold

Mold is difficult to find with the naked eye but can be detected by smell. A damp, musty smell is the most common sign, so make sure you smell the furniture before buying it. Unfortunately, this means you’ll have to smell the furniture.

Place your nose no more than 2 inches from the cat tree and inhale deeply. If the smell is unpleasant, then it likely contains mold.

Also, look for circular patterns of black, brown, or green stains, which indicate mold. Finally, rub your hand over the furniture to feel for the presence of moisture. Moisture is an indication of mildew and mold.


Cats are susceptible to viruses such as; feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), feline leukemia virus (FeLV), and Feline Herpesvirus-1. Although these viruses cannot be transmitted to humans, they can spread from one cat to another.

These viruses are contagious, and some can survive on bedding, furniture, and food dishes for long periods. So even if you use disinfectant, it can still be challenging to get rid of.

Feline panleukopenia (FP) is a highly contagious viral disease that affects young kittens. The feline parvovirus in cats causes it.

Although it doesn’t affect humans, kittens between 3-5 months are highly susceptible. The virus can survive up to a year in the environment and is transmittable through other cats’ bedding, furniture, or clothing.

The viruses are transmitted via nasal, stool, and urine secretion, which will be hard to detect on used furniture.

How to Inspect for Viruses

The only way to protect yourself and your cat from viruses is to buy a new cat tree instead of buying used furniture. 

This prevents the possibility of introducing a virus into your home, which can be incredibly difficult to eradicate once it is present.

Other Things to Consider


Cat trees are big pieces of furniture that need to be sturdy and secure enough to hold your cat. If your chosen tree is not in good condition, it could pose a safety hazard to your cat.

Inspect the furniture for tears or holes where cats can get stuck. It’s best to avoid buying used trees if they are more than five years old, as the fabric and structure may have become weak from age and wear.


Cats are notorious for marking their territory. It’s a way of communicating with other cats. They use the scent glands on their cheeks, face, tail, and feet.

Furniture that other cats have used may still have lingering scents, even after being washed and cleaned. Unfortunately, if cat spray is not removed immediately, it becomes impossible to remove the smell.

You may be able to get the smell out of the carpet, but the wood underneath can be damaged by the pungent ammonia.

Second hand trees will have an unfamiliar scent, which will make your cat mark it to remove the smell. 

Once your cat picks up the behavior, it may start marking your carpet or other furniture in your home.

Cats can’t talk and say they don’t like the cat tree. Instead, they act out by not using it and marking their territory elsewhere.

5 Tips for Buying A Used Cat Tree

I realize that you may want to save money, so you’re considering a second-hand cat tree. There’s no shame in that, as long as you take some possible steps to protect your family and feline friend.

#1 Buy From Someone You Know

If possible, buy the used cat tree from someone you know like a friend or family member. This way, you know the cat and the environment the tree was used in. 

If you don’t know anyone selling a cat tree, make it a point to talk to the seller before buying it.

Ask them questions like; how long they had the tree, what type of cat and environment it was in, where the cats were vaccinated, and did they use flea treatments on the cat.

Also, ask them if any other animals used the cat tree. For example, some pet owners with multiple pets let their rabbits, rats, etc. 

Unfortunately, not all sellers will be honest, but most cat lovers will. If the person doesn’t want to answer your questions, it’s best to move on.

#2 Disinfect and Clean It Thoroughly

Before introducing the used cat tree to your cat, clean and disinfect it thoroughly, this will help remove any potential viruses, bacteria, and smells from the other cat.

To clean the tree, you’ll want to:

  • Vacuum the fabric and remove any remnants of fur from the old cat. Use an old brush or comb to dig deep into the carpet.
  • Use a de-shedding tool to remove any matted fur.
  • Avoid using toxic cleaning products, which can harm the cat. Instead, opt for a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and warm water.
  • Use a pet vacuum cleaner to remove leftover dirt, fur, and debris.

Using a steam cleaner is a great way to eliminate fleas in hard to reach areas. Ensure you use non-toxic cleaning products on the tree.

#3 Leave It Outside In The Sun

After a deep clean, let it sit in the sun for a few days. This will help to eliminate any odors and germs that may be present on the furniture.

Also, it will give you some time to inspect your tree and ensure there are no tears or holes in the fabric, which can become a safety hazard for your cat.

#4 DIY A Cat Tree

Several YouTube videos will teach you how to make your cat tree. This will allow you to customize the tree to suit your cat’s needs and also save some money while doing it.

A DIY cat tree is a great way to create a unique environment that will keep your pet safe. Below is a video that teaches you how to make a cat tree.

#5 Buy A New Cat Tree

While this isn’t a tip for buying a second-hand cat tree, it’s the best option. I know you’re in the market for a used tree to save money, but buying a used cat tree may be more of a headache and money pit than you realize.

Used cat trees may have hidden problems that can’t be seen and may even carry diseases, fleas, or viruses. So it’s not worth taking the risk for a small amount of money saved.

A new cat tree is the safest option for you and your pet, as it will be free from any problems and come with a warranty in case anything goes wrong.

Final Word

Generally, buying a secondhand cat tree is not a good idea. While it can save you some money in the short term, there are potential risks with a used cat tree.

For starters, there could be residual odors and dirt from the other cats that were using it. This can make your cat uninterested in the furniture and trigger behavioral problems.

In addition, the tree could be worn out from many years of use and have loose parts that can become a safety hazard for your cat. Finally, if your cat gets hurt or ill, the vet visit may cost more than a new tree would have.