Cat trees provide Fluffy acceptable furnishings to scratch, climb or simply nap on. Prefabricated cat trees are simple enough to provide, but if you're into it, build your own. With total control of the project, you can ensure you use environmentally friendly, nontoxic materials. Going green is good for kitty.
Cat Tree Body
Make the body of your cat tree using a sturdy material like wood to support your cat's weight as she climbs up and down it. Use wood recycled from existing furniture or obtained through groups like the Building Materials Reuse Association so it doesn't wind up in a landfill. Look for wood that hasn't been treated with toxic chemicals like arsenic or other preservatives. Bamboo, a strong type of grass, is an eco-friendly alternative to wood, both renewable and biodegradable. Heavy-duty, multilayer cardboard may also provide a sturdy-enough base for parts of your cat tree and has a surface our feline friends love to scratch.
To give your furry friend a pleasant surface she can scratch and snooze on, cover the body of the cat tree with eco-friendly carpet. The Mother Nature Network recommends you choose carpeting made from natural materials like wool, jute, cotton, seagrass, sisal, corn or bamboo. Other green options include carpeting made from recycled plastic or other industrial scraps. Purchase carpeting that has a soy-based backing rather than a petroleum-based one. Avoid toxins by choosing glue-free carpeting that is sewn onto the backing, or carpet whose fibers are adhered with nontoxic glue. In addition to carpet, cover some parts of the cat tree with natural sisal rope that many kitties enjoy scratching, adding another texture for Fluffy to enjoy.
Assembly and Finishing Touches
Use a staple gun to attach carpeting or sisal rope to your wood, cardboard or bamboo tree body. Use screws and nails to attach all parts together. Reinforce the adhesion of the fabrics and cat-tree parts by using water-based nontoxic glue that has a low amount of volatile organic compounds. If you want to spruce up any exposed solid surfaces not covered with carpet or rope, use pet-safe zero-VOC paint or milk paint, the Seattle Times recommends. You can hang a few light toys from the perches of your cat tree made of natural materials like claw-friendly cork. Cork is the skin of the cork oak. It's a renewable resource that doesn't result in the death of the tree.
A cat tree enriches your kitty's environment and makes use of your home's vertical space. If any of your fabric or rope coverings become worn, simply remove them and attach new ones to make your tree as good as new. Avoid any natural carpeting or material treated with flame retardants or perfluorocarbons, which are bad not only for your kitty but also for the environment in general.
- Better Homes and Gardens: Environmentally Friendly Building and Remodeling Materials
- The Humane Society of the United States: Keep Your Cat Happy Indoors
- One Green Planet: Green Living: 10 Eco-Friendly Materials for Your Home
- The Seattle Times: Give New Meaning to 'Clean House' With Eco-Friendly Products
- Jackson Galaxy: Catification: Build Your Own Custom Cat Tree Using Re-Purposed Dresser Drawers
- Catster: Cat Trees: Choosing the Best
- PandEcats.com: Building a Cat Tree
- Sierra Club: Environmentally Friendly Carpet Overview
- Mother Nature Network: Buying Eco-Friendly Carpet
- Mother Nature Network: How to Find Environmentally Friendly Wood
- Building Materials Reuse Association: Directory
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Questions About Cats
- Mountain Cat Trees: About Our Furniture
- Freshome Design & Architecture: Cork: A Sustainable, Eco-Friendly, Innovative Material for the Home
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.