Are you looking for a non-toxic cat tree? Then you’ve come to the right place. As feline enthusiasts, we know the importance of each material packed into your cat’s furniture. That’s why our cat tress and towers are lovingly made in the USA using safe and sustainable materials.
Even cat owners with the best intentions can overlook the materials in their cat’s furniture and toys. If you are looking this up, congrats, you are already ahead of the pack.
The market is saturated with toxic cat trees and other types of cat furniture. Many are made in China and available for cheap price points that might initially make you think—MEOW! Instead, you might want to hiss in defense of your kitty-cat. Not only do cheap cat trees break down quickly and create a worn-down eyesore in your home, they may also contain toxic materials that damage your cat’s health.
Toxic Materials Commonly Found in Cat Trees, Towers, & Furniture
It’s easy to assume furniture made especially for cats wouldn’t contain anything toxic to their system, but think again. When searching for non-toxic cat furniture, try to avoid the following materials:
Commonly found in PVC products, phthalates can penetrate the skin and damage the kidneys and liver.
- PVC (with added chemicals)
PVC itself is not considered dangerous, but it often contains toxic chemical additives that make the PVC softer and more flexible.
This chemical has the power to disrupt endocrines and cause changes to your pet’s microbiome and metabolism.
Exposure to lead is linked to organ damage as well as damages to the nervous system and gastrointestinal tract. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends using 3M Instant Lead Test swabs to check surfaces for the presence of lead.
Long term exposure to formaldehyde is linked with respiratory and digestive issues.
The Importance of Non-Toxic Cat Trees
Your cat is sensitive to his or her environment, perhaps even more so than some people. Here’s why… cats are self-groomers. Instead of hopping in the shower to rinse away the day’s sweat and grime, your cat uses his or her tongue to ‘lick away’ the ick. As a result, anything toxic that comes into contact with your cat’s fur throughout the day, often ends up ingested.
Keep in mind, kittens are the most susceptible to damages from toxins.
The Prevalence of Toxins in Cat Trees & Other Pet Products
The Ecology Center’s Healthy Stuff project maintains a list of lab test reports for various brand name pet products. The project tests everything from pet food to tennis balls for things like chromium, chlorine, arsenic, cadmium, antimony, tin, lead, mercury, and bromine. Some frightening discoveries they’ve uncovered throughout their research include:
- About half of pet products contain higher lead levels than allowed in children’s toys.
- 47% of tested pet products contain detectable levels of lead.
- 45% contain traceable levels of hazardous toxins.
Small doses of certain toxins aren’t deadly. But, if your cat is constantly exposed to low levels of toxins, it’s only logical to assume their risk for health issues and certain cancers increase.
One innocent looking cat tree can host several toxic materials. To better understand, think about the basic parts of a cat tree: there’s the post or base, limbs designed for climbing and lounging, and a scratching pad of some sort. Each material used to craft the tree is crucial to keeping your cat safe.
Non-Toxic Cat Tree Base Materials
What is your cat tree base made out of? Your cat climbs all over it each day, exposing them to whatever little particles and chemicals make up the larger cat tree. All too often, formaldehyde is used to create base materials.
The goal is to look for non-toxic cat tree bases made from NAUF (No Added Urea Formaldehyde). This relates to the type of resin used as a bonding agent. Formaldehyde is a common industrial chemical used to create many household products, building materials, and even other chemicals, but it’s not good for your cat—or you.
Formaldehyde is part of the volatile organic compounds family, which means these compounds vaporize and become a gas at normal room temperatures. So, not only can it be ingested, but it can be breathed in as well.
Why NAUF is Important
So, what exactly are the effects of formaldehyde on animals? According to a study published by the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), it is a potent allergen with the potential to cause skin and eye irritation, among other things. The following effects on animals exposed to formaldehyde were observed:
- After oral ingestion of formaldehyde, mice and cats showed similar effects, including pulmonary edema.
- Severe eye irritation—one drop of formalin led to edema of the cornea, conjunctiva and iritis (an 8 in severity on a scale of 1-10).
- Formaldehyde can absorb into the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. A study conducted in 1972 found nearly 100% retention rates in dogs, regardless of ventilation, exposure, or concentration of formaldehyde.
- 10 minute exposure to formaldehyde at 3.1 ppm resulted in a 50% decrease in mice respiratory rates. Thankfully, researchers noted complete recovery in between exposures.
- Guinea pigs exposed to formaldehyde at 03.-50 ppm showed an increase in airway resistance and a decrease in lung compliance.
- Continual exposure to formaldehyde caused yellowing of fur in mice, and decreased body weight. Larger rates of exposure led to the development of eye irritation along with upper respiratory issues, weight loss, and decreased liver size.
Check out the full study @ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK217651/
You might be thinking—but is my cat really exposed to that much formaldehyde from their furniture? Valid question. After all, no one is dumping formaldehyde in your cat’s eyes or putting it in their food (as demonstrated in the study referenced above). Still, daily exposure to formaldehyde can add up and create health problems over time. The more you limit your cat’s exposure to toxins like formaldehyde, the better.
But it’s not just formaldehyde you must look out for…
Non-Toxic Cat Tree Scratchers
In your cat’s opinion, the best cat tree comes with some type of scratchable surface. Some common materials used to make scratchers include:
- Braided ropes glued onto cardboard
- Corrugated cardboard
The best scratchers for cats are made from carpet-like materials. For one, they look better and don’t make a big mess like their cardboard peers. Secondly, there are some risks to cardboard scratchers you should know about—and it’s not just using your vacuum more.
Is Cardboard Bad for Cats?
Not only do cardboard cat scratchers make a mess, they aren’t necessarily great for your cat to be chewing and scratching. Plus, once the cardboard starts to come loose from the scratcher, your cat may eat it. Especially if your cat has Pica—a common compulsive disorder that causes cats to eat everything from cardboard to plastic.
If your cat eats paper or cardboard—or anything non-digestible—there’s always the risk of a dangerous blockage. This may require major surgery and set you back thousands of dollars.
Issues with Recycled Cardboard
According to the bbc.co.uk, many food manufacturers are switching packing methods due to health-related concerns regarding recycled cardboard boxes. Researchers recently discovered toxic chemicals in recycled cardboard boxes with the potential to contaminate food sold in cardboard cartons. The toxic chemicals in question are mineral oils. These mineral oils originate from printing inks used in newspapers, which are then recycled into cardboard boxes. Researchers called this discovery “frightening.” After all, mineral oil exposure has been linked to inflammation of internal organs and cancer.
Of course, not all cardboard scratchers are made from recycled cardboard—that’s something you’d have to ask each individual manufacturer. If it is made from recycled cardboard, we recommend finding a different non-toxic cat tree (cat product).
Issues with Corrugated Cardboard
Many scratch pads for cats are made from something called “Corrugated Cardboard,” which is stronger than standard cardboard. The term corrugated means that the material is made from three unique sheets of container board. The two outer sheets serve as flat liners and the middle sheet forms a rippled shape. All three sheets are glued together. Typically, a non-toxic glue is used… but the real question is, how non-toxic is any glue? The best way to avoid glue is to seek out a scratching surface that is sewn to the backing instead of glued.
You can prevent your cat from eating recycled or corrugated cardboard, as well as the glue holding it together. Simply offer them a non-toxic cat tree complete with a scratcher that doesn’t shred or quickly fall apart.
Non-Toxic Cat Tree Scratcher
Square Cat Habitat’s Acacia Modern Cat Tree and Baobab Modern Cat Tower include scratchable inserts on all branches. We steer clear of cardboard, glued on rope-like materials, and other commonly used scratching materials.
Our goal is to offer cats a surface that’s fun to scratch, safe, and doesn’t make an ugly mess. As a result, you can pick between two different materials: Mohair (faux) and Plush. As they wear down over time, scratchers can be removed and replaced.
Cat Trees Made in USA VS. China
Nothing against China—it’s an awesome country! But, when it comes to manufacturing practices, they simply don’t have the same regulations in place and will utilize materials that other parts of the world have banned or deemed unsafe.
A manufacturer may have the best of intentions, but do they really understand the potential toxicity of every last material that goes into a product made in China for the cheapest price point possible? Of course not. And, as science continues to prove, it’s the little things that can alter the course of a product’s makeup and the impact it has on your cat’s health.
Buying cat trees made in the USA isn’t just good for the local economy. It’s also good for your cat’s overall health by helping limit their exposures to toxic materials.
Square Cat Habitat—Non-Toxic Cat Furniture Made in the USA
We believe we can do better for cats. Treat your cat like the royal feline he or she is with a non-toxic cat tree you can both feel good about. We rely on safe and sustainable materials to create modern cat furniture. Each material is carefully selected for your cat’s enjoyment and long-term wellness. For instance, base materials contain NAUF, and we never use cardboard scratchers. The best part of all? Our modern cat trees won’t cramp your home décor—in fact, they complement it.
See for yourself what all the purrs about!
Check out Acacia Modern Cat Tree
& our larger Baobab Modern Cat Tower