gray cat scratching on eco friendly cat tree post

Looking for a natural way to let your kitty scratch to their heart’s content? Us too! Choosing a sustainable cat tree is a great way to give your lovely feline hours of fun, whilst helping reduce their carbon pawprint. So what are your options?

We’ve created this list of the best eco-friendly cat tree options to help you decide, with something to fit into every kind of lifestyle and home.

Ultimate Guide to Eco-Friendly Cat Trees

Do Cats Even Need Cat Trees to Scratch?

First up, you might be wondering – do cats need a cat tree? Surely it’s better to *not* have one in the first place?

Our answer: A cat tree can actually help to meet some of your kitty’s really important needs. It enables them to act out their natural behaviors in a healthy and stimulating manner, whilst enriching their lives in so many ways.

Here’s just a few:

1. Natural Urges

Scratching is second nature for our cats and a super important part of their everyday routine. As well as being a natural urge to help sharpen those claws, scratching helps to strengthen and stretch those impressive balancing muscles.

Plus, the pads of your kitty’s paws have scent glands in them, which release their scent as they paw. In other words, it’s your cat’s way of telling the world “This is mine!”

2. Sense of Security

As well as marking their territory, cats need a core area to call their own. Having a safe space to go that is completely theirs allows cats to then feel more secure in exploring and interacting with the world around them.

Especially for indoor cats or multi-cat households, a tree can be a great way to establish household boundaries and allow your cat to get that all-important alone time. A tall tree is therefore an added bonus, the perfect private spot to survey their kingdom!

3. Safety

A cat tree is a place your feline friend can call their own, but it also means they are more likely to keep their paws off your furniture! Scratching at inappropriate or potentially dangerous materials isn’t something any of us want for our cats, and a cat tree helps to keep them safe, scratched out, and happy.

Likewise, it’s an added bonus if you have a dog too, as it creates a place your cat can escape to when your pooch’s natural exuberance becomes a bit…ahem…much.

4. Play

You’ll no doubt already know that cats of all ages love to play. And there’s nothing quite like a game of hide and pounce! Displaying these natural hunting behaviors is a fantastic way for your cat to exercise both their body and mind, and a cat tree offers the perfect spot to play and pounce from.

5. Climbing

Cats are the Spiderman of the pet world! Just think, how many times has your cat jumped up onto a high surface or even attempted to clamber onto your shoulders for a free ride?

As another major part of our furry friend’s feline instincts, climbing provides safety, security, and a chance to watch their territory. But if you’d rather they didn’t scale your bookshelf or potted plants, a cat tree provides a brilliant place for them to practice those spidey skills!

To explore that last point a bit more, cat behaviorists indicate that it’s an evolutionary instinct for cats to search out high places to sleep. Which makes sense, right?

A high sleeping position means cats are better protected from any potential threats or other predators, with the added advantage of putting them in a prime position for a “sneak attack” when any vulnerable prey passes below.

In fact, with their retractable claws and flexible musculoskeletal system, cats are physically built to climb, jump and scratch at trees. Yet where our cats’ ancestors may have chosen actual trees to sleep in, our eco-friendly cat trees will just have to be the closest alternative!

How to Choose the Right Tree for Your Cat

This can depend on lots of different factors, such as their size, weight, age, the number of lucky cats in your life, and more.

We run you through some of these important considerations in our cool cat trees post, but what about the eco-friendly cat scratching posts?

Which sustainable cat trees are there to choose from?

We are always looking for ways to help our little Yoda to have a positive impact on the planet!

Our three pillars (consume less, buy better and smarter, reuse and recycle) are how we make decisions about what to bring into his life. And we know so many other owners are striving to do the same too.

So we got to work, searching for the best modern, sturdy and eco-friendly cat towers around.

As well as looking for natural materials and sustainable options, we also always look for a few key things when considering Yoda’s cat tree options:

  • Claw-friendly surface – materials that give some good traction, so your kitty can get a good hold on them for climbing and that super-important and satisfying scratch experience!
  • Longevity – sturdy and durable trees will last a lifetime, which is great for your kitty and the planet.
  • Materials – are they recycled, naturally derived, or easily recyclable?
  • Size – be sure the height fits in your home or apartment, as some of these trees are pretty giant! But for your kitty, the taller the better really, as they will enjoy scaling to their secluded spot. (Extra brownie points for a window view.)
  • Stability – a sturdy base is always important to avoid any unforeseen accidents.
  • Temperament – is your furry pal a serious scratcher or a sleepy snoozer? We’ve included a range of designs for lazy cats and playful kitties alike.

With this in mind, here are our top picks for the Best Eco Friendly Cat Tree Options:

1. The Wooden Cat Condo

Image credit: TheMauStore via Etsy

This sustainably-minded wooden cat tree is handmade, with two perches and a super comfy-looking basket. Small enough to fit in a studio apartment, but still tall enough to offer your kitty some security and comfort. Its glowing reviews say it’s super easy to put together and sturdy when used.

With machine washable cushions for hygiene and comfort, it’s constructed with the highest quality materials that are made to last. Plus, 5% of the Etsy shop’s proceeds support animal charity & environmental conservation. Which makes it a great choice for the eco-conscious pet parent.

2. The Real Wood Cat Tree

Image credit: JMLPets via Etsy

Another Etsy micro-business that we think is fab. This maker demonstrates that one way to cut down your cat’s carbon paw print is to choose furniture that will last. And that’s what this durable cat tree is all about!

Made for generations of play, featuring a two platform design & super heavy stump base – it’s perfect for snoozy cats who like to survey the world below. It’s also made from real wood for a rustic, outdoors feel, there are no toxic materials or varnishes added so you can keep your kitty super safe.

3. Skyscraper Scratchers

If your cat is seriously into their scratching and not too fussed about a platform, then this one’s for you. The Urban Cardboard Co uses recycled materials to make these awesome city-scape-inspired scratchers, with a design that is inspired by the Marina City Towers in Chicago, IL.

Overall, this is an eco-friendly option, created to provide endless hours of fun for city slicking felines everywhere, plus it’ll look pretty cool in your apartment too!

4. The Paper Perch 

Image credit: PetPals via Amazon

If you need something a little more traditional, this is a great all-rounder option. It’s constructed from super scratch-worthy and cozy materials – fleece and paper. These natural recyclable materials make for a comfy place to snooze and play.

While it’s small enough to fit in an apartment, according to the reviews the wide baskets are perfect for cats of all sizes – even the larger lazy cats among us!

5. The Pawmona 60″

Image credit: Pawnoma via Amazon

Need an eco cat tree for several kitties? Perfect for multi-cat households and large play areas, the Pawmona Natural Cat Condo is handmade in Georgia from natural Baltic Birchwood, and features a big baseboard to make sure there’s no wobbling! It can even be attached to the wall if needed.

The scratching ropes here are made from natural and durable sisal rope, both naturally derived and renewable materials. Sisal is a twine made from a type of agave plant – how cool is that?

The best part about a sisal or hemp-wrapped scratching post is that you can easily replace it too. Simply cut off the old rope and buy some more.

The only con we see is that the plush bedding is made from polyester, which isn’t as eco-friendly as we’d like to see.

Just a note that some cats don’t like to claw sisal. The reason? Personal preference, apparently! (We all know how picky our kitties can be, right?) So perhaps test a little piece on your cat to see their reaction before investing in this big tree or others like it. Nonetheless, coiled posts will really stand the test of time against sharp claws.

6. Thrift Second-Hand Cat Trees

Probably your best bet for a sustainable tree is to revive a used one! You can find all kinds of great cat furniture online, usually for a great price too.

Put aside a weekend to thoroughly clean your thrift find, as this will help to remove any lingering scents that might upset your kitty and also give the tree a bit of love. Replace any worn areas with leftover carpet, sisal rope, or cardboard, and a little imagination.

You’ll be giving these unloved items a new life, keeping them out of the landfill, and saving energy on manufacturing. Win-win!

What to Do with Old Cat Trees?

Revitalize

Already got a cat tree? Instead of disposing of it, why not apply the revive method to your current tower. Re-carpet with old towels and curtain fabric or cushions, and you’ll be creating a masterpiece in no time.

You can refurbish an old cat tree with a little bit of handiwork. Check out this DIY cat scratcher we made for Yoda!

Sell/Donate

If you’re not into crafting, then why not see if someone else is? Perhaps your cat tree can be given a second life on gumtree or craigslist. Or, better yet, see if your local cat shelter or sanctuary is in need of any donations! 💖

Recycle

If your cat tree really is on its last legs (or should that be paws?), you might be wondering… can you recycle cat trees?

Usually, a cat tree is made from a mixture of different materials, making it difficult to know what can and can’t be recycled. Here are some of the common materials used in cat trees and what you can do with them.

  • Wood – Why not reuse the wood to make shelving or a mini perch for your cat? If you’d rather save on the DIY, you can usually add wood to your compost heap, just like wood shavings or sawdust. Or take it to a local recycling center instead.
  • Fibreboard – or ‘MDF’, as it’s known, is a mixture of wood chips, plant fibers, and other stuff. Check your area’s local recycling regulations to see if you can recycle fiberboard nearby.
  • Carpet – try taking the carpet to your nearest recycling location, and they should have a textiles section to use.
  • Faux Fur – most faux fur is actually made of recycled polyester, making them recyclable.
  • Sisal Rope – this wonder material is made from plant fibers, so it’s compostable (yay!) and you can go ahead and place it in your compost bin.

ALSO READ: How to Compost Cat Litter and Should You?

So there you have it, sustainable cat tree options for every lovely kitty out there!

In summary, when investing in an eco-friendly cat tree, remember to double-check what materials have been used – whether they’ve been sourced sustainably or are recycled – and pay close attention to the overall design, dimensions, and “small print” product details too.

With eco friendly cat towers growing more and more popular, there’s plenty of choices out there. And it’s now simply a case of doing your research and finding the right fit for you, your home, and most importantly…your kitty!

We’d love to hear about your own natural cat tree, if you have one, and we definitely wouldn’t complain if you send us a photo featuring your kitty and cat tree too! (It’ll give Yoda ideas to add to his birthday present list!)

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The Fluffy Kitty

The Fluffy Kitty blog inspires cat owners around the world to live a more adventurous and eco-friendly life with their cats. Read more about our story on our about us page.

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