How Long Do Cat Trees Last? And When Should You Replace It?

A cat tree, just like a scratching post, is among the few cat furniture that keeps our cats healthy, happy, and entertained. 

It’s an overall popular choice for many cat owners because it’s multi-functional. Not only does it allow cats to climb and play, but it also acts as a sleeping area and a scratch post!  

How Long Do Cat Trees Last?

It varies greatly between products and materials used to build it. So remember, if you’re looking to buy a new cat tree, it’s smart to invest a couple of extra dollars for a tree that will hold strong for years to come. We’ve shared several ideas to help you come up with creative ideas on what to do with an old cat tree.

If you’ve just recently bought a cat tree, or you’re still thinking about buying one for your furry friend, a couple of questions may come to mind. Are cat trees even worth it? Are they dangerous? What are the benefits of having cat trees around?

And, most importantly, how long do cat trees last? 

The Importance of Cat Trees: Why They’re Worth It

Cat trees are like condos for cats. And just like all condos, they also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. 

From single-level trees to multi-branched and extravagant, cat trees are undeniably among the most commonly bought furniture for cat owners. 

The main purpose of cat trees is to give cats a space to play and be by themselves. A fully functional cat tree comes with a stable base, sleeping cubicles or condos, scratching post, and high perches to give your cat a bird’s eye view of their environment.

Cats generally enjoy jumping, running, scratching, and lounging. Daily activities like these are what keeps them healthy and happy. 

And although we love to keep cats company, there always comes a point where cats would rather scurry away in their personal space. One that even humans can’t use. Cat trees are particularly their favorite since they give a clear view of the surroundings.

With a scratching post, cat trees will spare your precious furniture. And if you pick the right design, they can even be a nice addition to your home!

Once your feline friend gets used to it, you’ll notice them running to their scratching post as soon as you get home.

Are Cat Trees Dangerous?

Even the safest products can become dangerous if not properly used and set up. Generally, cat trees aren’t dangerous at all. Nearly all companies make them with the safety of our pets in mind. 

However, there are a few potential hazards that cat trees may bring. 

A Cat Tree’s Structure and Security

When you’re buying a cat tree, the first question that you’ll need to ask yourself is this, “how sturdy is this cat tree?” 

Structure-wise, high-quality cat trees come with impeccable safety. Despite that, the actual safety of the product fully relies on how you’ll install it at home. 

Cat trees often come unmounted, so you’ll have to carefully follow the construction manual to ensure that your tree is structurally sound. 

A cat tree with a heavily weighted base is ideal to keep it from toppling over, even if your cat is jumping and climbing on the tree all day. 

So when buying a cat tree, you’ll need to make sure that it’s robust and sturdy enough to hold your cats to prevent injuries. Cat trees often come with weight limits, so it’s worth checking that before getting one for your cat. 

Some Cat Trees Are Made With Toxic Materials 

Although not so common now, a few cat trees come bearing toxic materials that may affect a cat’s health. 

Non-toxic cat trees are often made with wood, sisal, corrugated cardboard, and braided ropes. 

With that in mind, make sure to avoid the following: 


Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are found in hundreds, if not thousands, of products. They may damage the kidneys and liver if cats ingest them by accident. 


BPA, just like Phthalates, is a chemical used to make certain plastics and resins. Long time exposure to this chemical is known to change and disrupt a pet’s microbiome and metabolism, and may pose several unwanted health effects. 


Formaldehyde is linked with respiratory and digestive issues in both cats and humans, especially with long-term exposure.

How Long Do Cat Trees Last? 

The life expectancy of a cat tree depends on two things: the quality of your cat tree, and your cat’s attributes like breed, age, and personality. Some users replace their cat trees every couple of months. Some, like me, have it standing strong even after two or three years.   

The Quality of Your Cat Tree

The quality of the tree is an important factor in the cat tree’s life. Some trees last years and years even with constant use, while others barely stand after a few short months. 

Cardboard cat trees don’t last as long as wood or sisal, especially if used frequently. 

Sisal-covered poles are perfect for cats who love to scratch. They can last a lifetime, depending on how many cats are using it. They’re exceptionally durable as well, although they can get a little ragged eventually as all products do. 

Plywood holds up quite well, too. It offers a good balance of cost and quality. But if you own big cats, it’s better to invest in solid materials like hardwood. 

High-quality trees are held together with screws rather than glue or small nails, which increases their weight capacity. 

Your Cat’s Breed and Age

Your cat tree’s state of wear directly depends on your cat’s personality and breed. Some cat breeds are full of energy. They entertain themselves with their trees for hours on end. Playful cats tend to scratch, kick, chew, and rip the cat tree to shreds if left alone. 

Here are the most famously playful cat breeds:

  • Abyssinian Cat
  • Japanese Bobtail
  • Siamese
  • Bengal
  • Maine Coon
  • Munchkin

And here are some of the most docile cat breeds: 

  • Persian
  • Exotic 
  • Ragamuffin
  • American and British ShortHair 
  • Norwegian Forest

Aside from the cat’s breed, age is important as well. Simply put, older cats are less likely to jump around as kittens or young adults. 

When Is It Time to Replace a Cat Tree? 

When is the right time to replace a cat tree? Let’s have a look. 

If Your Cat Tree Is Damaged

Damaged cat posts aren’t only unsightly to you and your guests, but to your cat as well. Because of this, your cat may start to search for something else to scratch, like your sofa, table, or mattress, and we definitely don’t want that to happen. 

On top of that, a damaged tree may pose safety concerns to your cat. For instance, once carpet-covered trees start wearing out, loose loops of carpeting may catch a cat’s claws and even topple her by accident. Ouch! 

The same goes for the batting underneath the carpet. Cats may be tempted to eat or chew on them, which may cause digestive problems. 

If Your Cat Tree Starts to Sag

The older your cat tree is, the more susceptible it is to sagging, which then makes it overall less stable. Unstable cat trees are dangerous as they may trap your cat inside, and collapse on top of your fragile home furniture. 

If Your Cat Tree Starts to Smell

Cats spray on furniture to mark them as their territory. When this happens, it’s difficult to remove the stench that comes with it. It often requires strong enzymatic shampoos. And even those don’t always eliminate the smell 100%. 

It’s a habit that’s difficult to break once it starts, and cleaning up the affected area actually encourages further repeated marking. Chances are spraying won’t stop until you discard the cat tree entirely. 

A lot of cat trees don’t really respond well to shampooing. So if you decide to clean the tree instead of replacing it, you might ruin it even further. 

Your Aesthetic Preference

There always comes a point where you become bored with how your cat tree looks, even if it’s standing tall and proud. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to get a brand new tree that better suits your tastes. 

What To Do With An Old Cat Tree?

When it’s time to buy a new one, you have a few options you can take. You can either repair your old tree, donate it, recycle, or dispose it. The option you use choose, will depend on the type of materials it is made from.

Closing Thoughts 

A cat tree is a brilliant addition to one’s home. It allows your cat to entertain herself while you’re away It’s a great place for her to sleep, too! 

Keep an eye on it and if you notice your cat losing interest in it, then it may be time to replace it or try to bring it back to good working standards.