Pet products are not nice to look at. Carpet-covered cat trees and plastic toys don’t particularly blend in with decor. They’re also often cheaply made. If anything is uglier than a cat tree, it’s a cat tree that’s raggedy and falling apart.
Living with two cats in small apartments, I’ve learned that when everything you own is on display, you want it to look good. I wanted them to be built well, with longevity in mind, and of course, I needed my cats to actually like them.
Your cats need a few things: a clean place to go to the bathroom, fresh food and water, and a whole lot of love. They don’t need a $600 litter box enclosure.
Cats are notorious for playing with the packaging the very expensive item came in instead of actually using that very expensive item. If your cats only want the balled-up tissues that my cats love, give those trash goblins what they want. And what I personally like in style, you may hate—but it’s a place to start if you’d like to freshen up your space.
For a more definitive list of what your pets might need, check out our guide to the Best Pet Supplies. We also have guides to the Best Vet Telemedicine and the Best Pet Cameras.
- Safety Advice
- Cat Trees
- Cat Beds and Scratchers
- Litter Boxes and Enclosures
- Dishes and Toys
I spoke with Russell Hartstein, animal behaviorist and founder of the Los Angeles dog training facility Fun Paw Care. He pointed out that some furniture, whether cheap or expensive, could potentially be held together with toxic materials like formaldehyde glue. Where possible, I asked each of the companies to confirm the materials used and have provided their responses below.
When looking for products for cats (and for any pet!), keep an eye on small parts that could be a choking hazard if it comes undone. Make sure everything is attached properly to hold weight, especially for pieces that require at-home assembly. Keep an eye on things that are glued on, like the rope often attached to scratchers, to make sure pieces of the dried glue aren’t exposed. Even if the glue is nontoxic, you don’t want your pet eating that.
Thankfully, you don’t have to spend a ton on a cat tree to get something that looks pretty good. My cats lounge on Catit’s small Vesper Box ($70) while I work (I keep it next to my desk). It has a bottom semi-enclosed area for some privacy, a middle seat with a scratching post and toy, and a top bed. All three levels have furry pads that Velcro in. They come in several different configurations and color options.
The Vesper furniture is made from fibreboard with a laminate finish. My cats have been using it since 2020 without anything degrading. Catit does offer replacement parts to extend the furniture’s life. I’ve used a bunch of things from Catit now, including different water fountains and it’s a generally well-regarded brand. It also offers a 30-day return window if you cat ends up not liking it, and you can find products at Chewy and Amazon too.
Catit assured me all the Vesper furniture is made with toxin-free materials, and it follows the formaldehyde emission standards (TSCA Title VI compliant) for composite wood products put forth by the EPA.
The Mau Cento Tree ($289) gets the most compliments of any furniture I own. Beyond being pretty, both my cats love it equally. I often find them both fast asleep in each basket, or my little girl Eely slumbered in the fuzzy cave. They leap on and off, scratch the designated scratchers, and play with the pom poms. It’s very expensive, though parts are replaceable.
Each piece is made from real wood (sourced ethically from trees that “no longer bear fruit” according to the company), and the brand donates 5 percent of earnings to animal welfare and environmental conservation organizations and plants a tree for every order. Mau shared test results with us that showed no lead, cadmium, or formaldehyde were detected in the products tested—this included plush bedding, sisal ropes, metal frames, particle board, tree trunk, plywood, and other woods and fillings. We were happy to see this, though the brand did not explicitly state that the furniture was nontoxic.
It is unbelievably cute to see my little cat Eely poke her head out if I happen to disturb her slumber. The panels have wood veneer on one end and grey felt on the other. I set it up with the felt on the outside, but you can put it together the other way too. The top and bottom are completely open, and a super plush pillow acts as a nice bed. I’d crawl into this if I could fit. Like Catit above, Tuft and Paw is TSCA Title VI compliant.
Tuft and Paw products are stunning and we recommend a few here. The prices are steep, and if you were to outfit your entire cat home with Tuft and Paw, you’d spend over a grand before blinking. The brand emphasizes its dedication to crafting high-quality products, working with cat behaviorists to help design each of its items. It starts with an idea, then designers conceptualize that into a few options. Behaviorists are consulted throughout the rest of the process. About the Happy Camper Bed, founder Jackson Cunningham told me, “Initially there was only one entrance hole, but after discussing with the behaviorist, we decided to add a second opening hole and make the top open, because cats feel safer with more visibility and extra ‘escape routes’.”