Nontoxic Green Materials to Use in Building Cat Trees

Keep Fluffy off your furniture with a cat tree of her own.
i Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

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.

Eco-Friendly Covering

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.

the nest