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Will Cats Use a Used Cat Tree? Secondhand Equipment for Cats

Written by: Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Last Updated on February 7, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

white cat playing on a scratching post

Will Cats Use a Used Cat Tree? Secondhand Equipment for Cats

Cats are active creatures that enjoy exploring and exercising throughout the day. Without things to do, they are likely to become destructive within the house by climbing the curtains, clawing the furniture, or peeing on the floor. Therefore, you need to make sure your feline has access to things like cat trees so they can get rid of pent-up energy and maintain a healthy mind and body. But will cats utilize used cat trees? The truth is that it depends on the kitty in question. Here is what you should know.

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Cats Are Sensitive to Smells

When a cat uses a cat tree, they naturally leave their scent behind on the object. In the feline world, this means the tree has been “marked” and is owned by the kitty that marked it. When bringing a used cat tree into your home, your feline may become stressed out by the scent left behind by the previous cat. They might believe that the scent means that the cat is still lurking around somewhere and that they are trying to take over the environment.

However, some cats are not bothered by the scent of another cat and won’t mind using a cat tree that has a strange animal’s scent on it. It all depends on their personality, whether they are spayed or neutered, and how long it’s been since the used cat tree has been exposed to another animal.

So, it’s worth trying to bring a used cat tree into your home to see how your own feline reacts to it, especially if the tree was obtained free or inexpensively. If the used tree cost is comparable to the cost of a new tree, you’re better off just getting the new tree and starting fresh.

Image Credit: Arwen-Matthijssen, Shutterstock

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The 4 Ways to Make a Used Cat Tree More Appealing to Your Feline

If there is not enough in the budget for a new cat tree yet you can get your hands on a used one, there are a few things that you can do to make it more appealing so your cat will use it more often as time goes on. Here are options to consider:

1. Recovering

You can repurpose the cat tree and make it seem like new again by recovering it with new upholstery or carpeting. This will help get rid of most of the scent that the previous cat left behind so your cat doesn’t feel offended when they interact with it. You can use old clothing, carpeting, furniture coverings, or even sheets and/or pillowcases to cover the cat tree if you don’t have money for new custom coverings.

2. Spraying

If you cannot put a new covering on your used cat tree but you are worried about scents that will throw off your feline family member, consider spraying the object with vinegar. Spray until it’s damp, then let it thoroughly dry before bringing it into your home. This should help neutralize the scents and give your kitty a fresh surface to work from.

3. Airing Out

When the other options are not possible to employ, you can always try putting a used cat tree outside to soak up sunlight for a day or two. The outdoors will help air out the tree and get rid of scents, while the sun helps naturally “bleach” the material on the tree and eliminate the traces of other cats having used it. Afterward, your cat should be more accepting of the scratching tree when it’s introduced to your household.

Image Credit: SvetlanaRey, Shutterstock

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Things to Keep in Mind When Utilizing a Used Cat Tree

There are a few considerations to make when deciding whether to bring a used cat tree into your home so your own feline can make use of it.


If a diseased cat utilizes a cat tree, they can leave behind bacteria via saliva and feces. So, if you find a cat scratcher outdoors—say, near a dumpster—think twice before bringing it home to your family. It’s a good idea to make sure a used cat scratcher comes from a place where the previous cats were safe and free of disease. If you can’t be sure of that, you are better off buying a new scratcher for your kitty cat.

Wear and Tear

If the material covering the cat scratcher looks stressed or has developed loose fibers, chances are that it will not last long once you’ve introduced it into your household. The materials that make up the tree itself, cardboard or otherwise, can also be a problem if too much wear and tear has developed. If this is the case, the material could be scratched off and consumed by your cat. Therefore, a used cat scratcher that has obvious wear and tear can be more trouble than it is worth when all is said and done.

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All felines require an outlet for exercise and mental stimulation. So, if you choose not to bring a used cat tree into your house, you can consider alternatives that will help encourage your kitty to stay active. Cardboard boxes, newspaper, toilet paper and/or paper towel rolls, and even socks are all great options to consider.

Featured Image Credit: Daga_Roszkowska, Pixabay

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