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How Cat Trees are Made

large cat tree
Every one of us who has one or more cats in the house sooner or later comes to the point where a decision has to be made: which one of all cat trees on the market to choose for the comfort of his/her beloved cat. We must do that because there`s no doubt the cat furniture improve our pets’ lives, providing a place for cats to play, climb, scratch or just have a comfy sleep.

For fourteen years, our company has provided cat trees and towers and our customers frequently ask us questions as: “Is this cat tree stable enough for a 20 lbs cat?”,“Does this piece of cat furniture come assembled?”,“Will this cat tower will tip over when my large cat jumps on it?”,“How the kitty towers are made?”. The questions are of a big variety and most likely come from people who have to choose for the first time.

This made us reveal some insides on how cat towers are made, so everyone can make the best individual choice considering not only the price of the product, but the quality and what the pros and cons of it are.

Here you will learn:

Where the cat trees on US market are made

What kind of posts are used on the towers

How the cardboards posts are made

The advantages and disadvantages of cardboard posts

The advantages and disadvantages of solid wood posts

Some advice on what to look for when choosing a cat trее

Where the cat trees on US market are made

The cat trees available on the US market today are made either in China or the USA. Although some of you already have an opinion on Chinese products, the information where the cat furniture is manufactured doesn’t give us a good enough reason to decide which one is better for us and our pets. We need to know how are they made and what kinds of materials are used.

Cat trees made in USA and China

At first sight, both trees are almost identical disregarding the difference in the color and the shape of the top platforms. But there is a difference which you can not see and that is the material used for the posts.

cat posts

As you can see in the picture, the American producers are using solid wood for the making of every post, whilst the Chinese manufacturers make every post out of strong cardboard.

That`s the main difference which determines the pros and cons of the two products as well as those of all cat furniture on the market.

How the Cardboard Posts are Made

Here`s how cardboard posts are made:

How cardboard posts are made:

The manufacturer takes a long cardboard tube, cuts it to the appropriate length, puts a plastic piece with a built-in nut on both ends, fixates the plastic to the tube by stapling it and wraps it with either sisal rope or plush fabric, depending on the cat tree model.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Cat Towers with Cardboard Posts

Now some of you will say “What? Cardboard posts? Never!”. Believe it or not, those cardboard posts are very strong and no one can break them in half with bare hands, especially if there`s sisal rope wrapped around them. Here`s the place to mention that the strength of every cardboard post depends on the diameter and thickness of the tube. As bigger the diameter and thickness of the tube are, as stronger the construction of the cat tower will be. It is the same as the pillars of a wooden house, the thicker they are the stronger the house will be.

Unfortunately, with the years (10 years ago, it was different) more and more companies have started making the models with smaller diameters and thickness of the posts in order to reduce the price of the product and make it more affordable. This leads to lower quality, less stability of the construction and some cats won`t even use them because the towers are shaking too much when they climb up and down. If you are climbing a tree and it is shaking would you continue to the top?

Another trick that companies do to lower the price of the product, so they can also lower the market price is reducing the thickness of the sisal rope and using less
materials and labor in the process of wrapping it around the tube. In order, to obtain high quality this procedure requires putting a layer of glue on the tube first and then wrapping the sisal rope. This guarantees that the rope won`t unwrap after your cat starts scratching the sisal post. But very often the manufacturers don`t use glue which leads to the unwrapping as you can see below:

Putting sisal rope and unwrapped rope

Even though the cardboard posts are not as durable and strong as the wood posts, they accomplish one very good idea of the Chinese manufacturers – they are easy to assemble and take apart. Thanks to this idea they “break” every cat tree to parts putting together of which is made only by screw-bolts and an Allen wrench. This is perfect if you decide to change your home and should move your large cat tree to another place.
Large Cat Tree
Look at this huge cat tower. It measures 62"L x 16"W x 95H and fits in only two boxes 26” x 25” x 14” and 25” x 20” x 17” which makes it ideal for transportation from one side of the country to the other, moreover the shipping won`t be very expensive. Now imagine the tower is made of solid construction, which can`t be taken apart. You will need a truck and few people in order to move it. What about the shipping fee if you live in NY and the company offering it is located in CA?

Yet another benefit of trees and towers built from cardboard posts is the easy change of every part. A lot of our customers write to us one, two or even three years after they bought such a tree, requesting a replacement part for the cat furniture they purchased. Thanks to the construction they can buy just a replacement post, replacement platform, bed or hammock without the need of spending money for a whole new cat tree or tower.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Cat Trees with Solid Wood Posts

There is no doubt that the cat trees made with solid wood posts are heavier and more durable compared to the trees with cardboard posts. They are very stable and most of the time will not tip over (depends on the design and quality of item). This furniture will last for years to come, but they also have some disadvantages.

Since the solid wood posts don’t have pre-built nuts at both ends of the cardboard posts, the assembling with the bottom and the other parts is done with screws or nails, which means once the furniture is assembled as a whole it becomes a solid construction.

This can be a benefit on one hand since it becomes very stable, but on the other hand, it can also be a disadvantage since there`s no option of taking the tower apart. This disadvantage doesn`t affect only the transportation of the product but also the possibility for us to change only a specific part of it. Every cat owner knows that with time the posts of the cat furniture wear out due to the daily scratching. At this point, it looks bad and it needs to be replaced and your only option is to buy a new tower.

Usually, US manufacturers put the whole unit together and ship it fully assembled, which is a big advantage for the customers who are not very handy.
Sometimes, they leave one or two parts (usually top beds or cradles) which need to be installed from the customer when the product is delivered. The reason for this is to protect those parts from damage while they`re being transported or to save money on shipping fees. This additional work becomes impossible for some people since the use of some tools and skills is required that not everyone has. As a result, some of the customers that bought such products are disappointed regardless of the good result after the assembly of all parts.

We all know that over the years, cracks can form on the surface of the natural wood, which doesn't weaken the structure but makes it look less aesthetically pleasing. The same effect can occur in cat towers built with solid wood posts. You should be aware that even if such cracks do appear, the item will remain stable and durable.

Here are some advice on what to look for when choosing a cat tree:

After you know about the pros and cons of cat towers and trees made in the USA and China you will have to decide which one to choose, but keep in mind a compromise will be made in both cases.

Here are our recommendations if you have already chosen a tower with cardboard cat posts:

- Compare the posts` diameters. The bigger the diameter – the more stable construction will be.
- Compare total weight of the furniture you like. More weight means thicker platforms, posts and fabric which is better.
- Be sure the vendor you buy the tree from offer replacement parts.
- Avoid items with posts covered in plush fabric only without any sisal rope. The durability of these posts is very small and often the black plastic parts break because the fabric cannot tight the tube as strong as the sisal rope.
Choose a model with a bigger base which means more stability. Some items also come with double-base which is extra.

Here are our recommendations if you have chosen a cat tree with solid wood cat posts:

- Check if the item requires assembly. If so, make sure you or some of your friends have a screwdriver. You will need it.
Choose cat furniture with more sisal rope. It is beneficial for cats’ claws and will prolong the item’s life.
Be prepared for a heavy kitty tower. Sometimes people complain because the item is too heavy and they cannot move it.

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