The Ultimate Guide on How to Clean a Cat Tree: Happy Cat, Clean Home

How to clean a cat tree

Ah, the humble cat tree: A feline’s personal skyscraper, a jungle gym for our domestic tigers, and, at times, the unsuspecting victim of a hairball’s revenge. We love our cats, but boy, do they know how to make a mess, right? Cat trees can be a breeding ground for bacteria and parasites if not regularly cleaned. Those loose hairs and claw shavings can lead to allergies, not to mention the odors that could be a sign of lurking bacteria.

Ever played Twister with a cat tree? Trying to navigate through layers of fur, half-eaten treats, and countless mysterious stains, you might find yourself wondering – does it really have to be this complicated? Good news, fellow cat-parents: it doesn’t! This comprehensive guide on how to clean a cat tree will make the task feel less like a game of Twister and more like a satisfying spring clean. Plus, keeping that cat tree spotless? It’s an instant upgrade for your feline’s health and happiness. Read on for the ultimate cat tree cleaning showdown.

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How to Clean a Cat Tree: The Quick Answer

To clean a cat tree, begin by disassembling it, then vacuum and remove cat hair. Handle any stains and odors, then disinfect the structure using a cat-friendly disinfectant. Address specific parts like condos, platforms, hammocks, and posts as necessary. Once everything’s clean and dry, reassemble the cat tree.

For more in-depth methods, cleaning materials, and maintenance tips, continue reading this comprehensive guide.

So, put on your cleaning gloves and grab your disinfectant, because we are about to dive into the world of cat tree hygiene. We will explore the ins, outs, and in-betweens of cleaning a cat tree in a way that’s safe, effective, and manageable for even the busiest cat parents.

Understanding Your Cat Tree

Clean cat tower in a modern living room

Before we start our deep dive into the nitty-gritty of cat tree cleaning, let’s take a moment to understand this feline furniture better. Cat trees come in all shapes, sizes, and materials, each with its unique set of cleaning needs. After all, you wouldn’t clean a plush carpeted perch the same way you would a sleek, wooden condo, would you?

Anatomy of a Cat Tree

A standard cat tree typically consists of several key components:

Perches or Platforms: These are the flat surfaces where your feline overlord surveys their kingdom, naps, or, on occasion, launches an unexpected ambush on your unsuspecting toes. The material varies from carpeted surfaces to smoother, wood or laminate finishes.

Condos or Cubbies: These enclosed spaces are your cat’s private retreats – their cozy nooks for a peaceful snooze or a break from their demanding duties of being adorable. These are typically carpeted, but you may find them lined with plush fabrics in more luxurious models.

Scratching Posts: The saviors of your furniture, these scratching posts, usually wrapped in sisal rope, provide a much-needed outlet for your cat’s instinctual need to scratch.

Toys: Some cat trees come equipped with dangling toys to keep your kitty entertained. These are often small, plush items attached to elastic ropes.

Ramps or Ladders: For those kitty gymnasts, some cat trees have ramps or ladders connecting different levels, often carpeted for added grip.

Understanding the unique cleaning requirements of each part is the first step in maintaining a pristine cat tree that even the most aristocratic kitty would approve of. Up next, we will equip you with a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to tackle the Herculean task that is cat tree cleaning.

Why Keeping Your Cat Tree Clean Is Essential

Cat sleeping on a freshly cleaned cat tree

Our cats are no doubt, our little princes and princesses, and like any royalty, they too deserve a clean and healthy environment. Cleaning a cat tree is not just about aesthetics or keeping the human inhabitants of the house happy, it’s a matter of health and happiness for our feline companions as well. Let’s explore why keeping that cat tree clean is so darn important.

Health Benefits for Your Cat

Let’s get down to the bare bones of the matter – health. A clean cat tree is a cornerstone of your cat’s physical well-being. The built-up fur, dust, and occasional ‘accidents’ on a cat tree can make it a breeding ground for all sorts of nasties – from bacteria and fungi to parasites like fleas. Cleaning the cat tree can help prevent these health issues:

1. Allergies and Respiratory Issues: An unclean cat tree can accumulate dust and dander, which can trigger allergies in both cats and humans. Regular cleaning helps to minimize this risk.

2. Skin Irritations: Dirt, grime, and certain types of bacteria can cause skin irritations or infections in your cat.

3. Parasite Infestation: A dirty cat tree is a five-star hotel for fleas and mites, and nobody wants those pesky freeloaders hitching a ride on their cat.

4. Fungal Infections: Certain fungi like ringworm can survive on surfaces for long periods. Cleaning, especially deep cleaning, can help kill these infectious spores, protecting your cat from potential infections.

Promoting Positive Feline Behavior

Apart from health, a clean cat tree has psychological implications for your cat. Cats are fastidious creatures with a keen sense of smell. A clean, fresh-smelling cat tree is more likely to be used by your feline friend.

1. Stress Reduction: Cats are sensitive to their environment. A clean and well-maintained cat tree can help reduce stress and anxiety in cats, promoting their overall well-being.

2. Encourages Use: Cats are more likely to use, play, and rest on a clean cat tree, which promotes exercise and provides a sense of security and comfort.

3. Territory Marking: Cats mark their territory (including their cat trees) by rubbing their cheeks on it, which leaves a scent. Regular cleaning ensures that your cat’s scent marks are not overridden by other smells, making them feel secure and at ease in their territory.

4. Prevents Bad Behavior: A clean cat tree can help discourage unwanted behaviors, such as scratching furniture or urinating outside the litter box. If the cat tree is clean and appealing, they will be more likely to use it instead of your favorite couch.

So, you see, a clean cat tree is more than just an eye-pleasing piece of cat furniture. It’s an essential part of your cat’s health and happiness. In our next section, we’ll look into the tools of the trade to make your cat tree cleaning a breeze.

Prepping for the Clean: Tools and Materials You’ll Need

Prepping for cat tree cleaning

Before we get our hands dirty (so we can get your cat tree squeaky clean), let’s first gather our cleaning arsenal. Think of it as preparing for battle. Your opponents: fur, dust, and those sneaky, unseen germs. Your weapons: well, let’s list them out, shall we?

Gathering Your Cleaning Arsenal

  1. Vacuum Cleaner: A vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment is perfect for removing dust and loose cat hair. If you’ve got a cordless handheld vacuum, even better – it’ll allow you to reach every nook and cranny of that cat tree.
  2. Lint Roller: This handy tool is your new companion for those stubborn hairs that your vacuum cleaner may miss. Great for those tricky spots on your cat tree that need a bit of extra attention. A lifesaver!
  3. Rubber Gloves: Opt for those with a textured surface. They’re miraculous in de-furring those stubborn cat tree areas. They’ll also keep your hands perfectly clean throughout the process. Neat, right?
  4. Mild Cat-Friendly Disinfectant: Cleaning isn’t just about dust and fur, but also germs and smells. Choose a cleaner that’s safe for your pet. Consider a 50/50 vinegar-water mix, but mind the smell.
  5. Scrub Brush: Essential for those hidden areas and stubborn stains. A sturdy scrub brush ensures a thorough clean, making your cat tree fresh and spotless. No corner left unattended with this tool.
  6. Spray Bottle: Ideal for your homemade vinegar-water mix or any pet-safe disinfectant. Helps you distribute the solution evenly, ensuring a thorough clean. A practical addition to your cleaning routine.
  7. Old Towels or Rags: Perfect for drying your cat tree post-clean. Old towels are great as they’re absorbent and won’t be missed if they wear out. Reuse and recycle, turning old to new. Very handy!
  8. A Fun Podcast or Music Playlist: Okay, this one’s optional but highly recommended. Cleaning a cat tree can be a bit of a chore, so why not make it as enjoyable as possible? Besides, your cat might enjoy the extra entertainment!

Gearing Up: Power Boosters for the Cleaning Process

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking, “This sounds great, but wouldn’t it be even better if I had some secret weapons to make this process quicker and easier?” Well, you’re in luck! Here are a few optional, yet powerful, additions to your cleaning arsenal:

  1. Bissell Little Green ProHeat Pet: Described as the ultimate portable, handheld steam cleaner for pets, this tool brings the power of heat, superior suction, and specially-formulated cleaning solutions to your battle against cat tree stains. Its compact design allows for easy maneuverability, ensuring no stain, big or small, goes unnoticed. This compact steamer doesn’t just clean, it breathes new life into your cat tree, making it look and feel as fresh as the day you bought it!
  2. DakPets FURblaster Deshedding Tool: Shedding season doesn’t stand a chance against this handy tool. Originally designed for pet grooming, this versatile tool doubles as an excellent device to remove stubborn cat hair from your cat tree, reducing shedding dramatically. Its robust design featuring a rust-resistant stainless steel blade is sure to last, making it a reliable partner in your cleaning routine.
  3. BISSELL Pet Stain Eraser Plus: An unwavering ally for any pet owner, this cordless cleaner goes where you need it most. Designed to remove stubborn stains from a variety of surfaces, it’s perfect for those hard-to-clean areas on your cat tree. With no water or mixing needed, it makes cleaning as simple as ‘grab-and-go.’ Your cat tree doesn’t stand a chance against this!
  4. Resolve Ultra Pet Steam Carpet Cleaner Solution Shampoo: When pet messes prove stubborn, this formula rises to the occasion. Specially designed for pet stains, it eliminates them from your cat tree while also banishing odors, leaving a light, fresh scent. Best of all, it’s pet-safe and compatible with most upright steam machines, guaranteeing a clean, pleasant, and secure environment for your furry friends.

With these exceptional tools in your cleaning arsenal, our guide on how to clean a cat tree will feel like a breeze. Get ready for a cleaner, fresher, more sanitized cat tree!

Now, we’re not saying you need these products to get your cat tree clean – but if you’re looking to supercharge your efforts, they’re definitely worth considering.

Alright, now that we’ve got all our cleaning soldiers in line, let’s march forward. Roll up your sleeves, hit the play button on your favorite playlist, and let’s dive into our step-by-step guide on how to clean a cat tree. Prepare to be amazed at how much your cat tree – and your home – can transform!

Your Comprehensive Guide on How to Clean a Cat Tree

Ladies and gentlemen, cat moms and dads, we’re now venturing into the heart of the matter – the “how” in “how to clean a cat tree”. Ready? Let’s get cracking!

  • Disassembling Your Cat Tree

    Every cat tree is unique, just like your beloved furball. Depending on the complexity of your cat tree, disassembling it can range from straightforward to “I need a manual for this”. But don’t fret, we’ve got some steps to guide you:

    1. Take Photos: Before you even touch a single screw, whip out your phone and take photos of your cat tree from all angles. This will be a life-saver when it’s time to put it back together.

    2. Check for Removable Parts: Many cat trees have parts that are easily removable, like hammocks, condo pads, or dangling toys. Take these off first.

    3. Disassemble Gradually: If your cat tree can be further disassembled, start from the top and work your way down. Keep screws and other hardware in a safe place.

    Tip: Use labeled sandwich bags to store hardware from each part of the tree. This will make reassembly much smoother.

  • Vacuuming and Removing Cat Hair

    Once your cat tree is as bare as it can be, it’s time to take on the fur (and dust). Here’s how:

    1. Start with a Vacuum: Using your vacuum cleaner with the upholstery attachment, start vacuuming the cat tree, making sure to reach into all corners and crevices.

    2. Roll it Out: After vacuuming, use the lint roller to catch any remaining hair. You’ll be amazed at how much your vacuum can miss!

    3. Rubber Glove Magic: Still see hair? That’s when those rubber gloves come in. Simply rub your gloved hands over the cat tree fabric, and watch the fur ball up for easy removal.

    But what if your cat tree is carpeted, and worse, stained with pee, poop, or vomit? Remove the mess with gloves and paper towels, then apply a cat-friendly stain and odor remover according to the instructions. Blot with a clean, damp cloth and let it air dry. For stubborn stains or odors, you might need to repeat the process.

    Tip: Lightly dampening the gloves can make this process even more effective!

  • Handling Stains and Smells

    Cat trees, much like our homes, can suffer from a variety of stains and smells. Let’s tackle these next:

    1. Spot the Spots: Check your cat tree for any visible stains. These may need a little extra attention during cleaning.

    2. Mix Your Cleaner: Prepare your cat-friendly disinfectant or cleaner according to the instructions, or mix up your 50/50 vinegar and water solution.

    3. Scrub Time: Using your scrub brush, work the cleaner into the stain in a circular motion. It may take a few tries, but most stains should lift with enough patience.

    4. Odor Control: If your cat tree has an unpleasant odor, generously spray the entire tree with your cleaning solution and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes before wiping down.

    For wooden parts that a cat has peed on, it’s a bit trickier. Blot to absorb as much urine as possible, then apply a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap. Let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe clean. Make sure to patch test this solution first as it can sometimes bleach wood.

    Tip: If a particular smell persists, a baking soda sprinkle can do wonders! Simply sprinkle, let sit for 30 minutes, and then vacuum up.

  • Disinfecting the Cat Tree

    When it comes to disinfecting, the choice of product is key. Opt for a cat-friendly disinfectant to kill germs effectively without posing a risk to your cat’s health. Avoid products containing phenols, which are toxic to cats. Vinegar, while natural and safe, may not be appreciated by all cats due to its strong smell. Let’s proceed with the disinfection.

    Cleaning isn’t just about what’s visible. There’s also those pesky germs to deal with:

    1. Prepare Your Disinfectant: Either use a commercial cat-safe disinfectant or your vinegar and water solution. If using a commercial product, ensure to follow instructions carefully.

    2. Spray Down: Generously spray the entire cat tree, not forgetting the under-side of platforms and inside of any condos.

    3. Wait: Allow the disinfectant to sit for the recommended time on the product label, or at least 10 minutes for a vinegar solution.

    4. Wipe Down: Use a clean cloth or rag to wipe down the cat tree, ensuring to remove any excess disinfectant.

    Tip: For a quick weekly disinfect, a handheld steam cleaner can work wonders (and they’re usually chemical-free). However, make sure the heat won’t damage your cat tree material.

  • Handling Specific Parts: Condos, Platforms, Hammocks and Posts

    Each part of your cat tree has its own cleaning needs:

    1. Condos and Platforms: Most condos and platforms are covered in a carpet-like material. Use the vacuum, lint roller, and rubber glove method, then follow with the stain removal and disinfecting process.

    2. Hammocks: These are often removable and machine washable. If not, use the same method as for condos and platforms. Check for any wear or damage, as hammocks can be prone to breaking.

    3. Posts: Scratching posts may be wrapped in rope or covered in fabric. Vacuum well, then spot clean and disinfect. Check for any loose sections of rope or fabric that may need to be repaired.

    Tip: A light sanding can bring new life to a rope scratching post, but make sure there’s no risk of your cat getting a splinter!

  • Reassembling Your Cat Tree

    The final stage! Reassembling your cat tree is where those initial photos come in handy:

    1. Follow Your Photos: Use your reference photos to remember where each piece belongs.

    2. Start from the Bottom: It’s usually easier to start from the base and work your way up.

    3. Screw in Firmly, But Not Too Tight: You don’t want to risk damaging the tree, but it also needs to be safe and secure for your kitty.

    4. Check for Stability: Before you let your cat back on the tree, give it a wiggle to check for any instability.

    Tip: This is a great time to check and replace any worn-out parts. Regular maintenance will extend the life of your cat tree.

Congratulations! You now know how to clean a cat tree thoroughly. And believe me, your cat will thank you — probably with a loving scratch or a friendly bite, but that’s cat for “I love you,” right?

And there you have it – a detailed guide on how to clean a cat tree! Now, while we’ve tried to be as comprehensive as possible, we understand that sometimes it’s just easier to learn by watching someone else do it. That’s why we’re sharing this helpful video that demonstrates the cleaning process in action. It’s not ours, but we think it does a great job of showing a pet-safe, non-toxic way to clean a cat tree. Feel free to check it out as a supplement to our guide!

Special Cases: Addressing Unique Cleaning Challenges

Sometimes, cleaning a cat tree comes with a set of unique challenges. Maybe you’ve scored a second-hand gem, or you’re dealing with some pesky uninvited guests (hello, fleas!). Let’s explore how to handle these scenarios.

Cleaning a Used Cat Tree

A second-hand cat tree can be a great find, but it comes with its own set of cleaning needs. Here’s how to refresh that thrift store treasure:

  1. Complete Disassembly: Unlike your home cat tree, you’ll want to disassemble this one as much as possible to ensure a thorough clean.
  2. Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum: A used cat tree might have remnants from its previous owner – fur, dust, and dander. Vacuuming is the first and most critical step in removing these.
  3. Stains and Odors: There might be more stains or odors on a used tree. Follow the stain and smell removing instructions, repeating if necessary.
  4. Disinfection: This is crucial when dealing with a second-hand cat tree. Make sure to disinfect thoroughly, paying extra attention to condos and hidden corners.

Tip: Consider using an enzyme cleaner. These are great at eliminating odors and any potential allergens from the previous feline occupant.

Dealing with Fleas and Ringworm

Discovering your cat tree has been infested with fleas or exposed to ringworm can be alarming. But don’t panic, we’ve got you covered:


  1. Vacuum: This helps remove live fleas and their eggs. Ensure to empty your vacuum bag or canister immediately, away from your home.
  2. Pest Control Product: Apply a cat-friendly flea treatment product, ensuring to follow the instructions to the letter.
  3. Repeat: Fleas can be stubborn. Repeat the process as necessary until there are no signs of fleas.

Tip: You should also treat your cat and other areas of your home if a flea infestation is discovered.


Ringworm isn’t a worm but a fungal infection. It’s highly contagious, so you’ll need to clean the cat tree thoroughly:

  1. Wear Gloves: Protect yourself first! Wear gloves and, ideally, a mask.
  2. Discard Loose Items: If your cat tree has loose, cloth items like hammocks or toys, it’s best to throw them away.
  3. Vacuum and Wash: Vacuum the tree thoroughly and then wash all surfaces with hot, soapy water.
  4. Disinfect: Follow with a thorough disinfection. You might need a pet-safe, antifungal disinfectant – consult your vet or pet store.

Tip: Make sure to check with your vet for treatment for your cat and to discuss how to prevent spreading the fungus to other animals or people in the household.

Cleaning challenges can be overwhelming, but with a bit of patience and elbow grease, you can tackle anything. Remember, a clean cat tree contributes to a happy and healthy feline friend!

The Long Game: Maintaining Cat Tree Cleanliness

A spotless, well-groomed cat tree is a sight to behold. But how do you keep it that way? The answer lies in regular maintenance and establishing a cleaning routine. It’s like dental hygiene for cats, you wouldn’t let their teeth get bad before starting to clean, would you?

Regular Cleaning Schedule

Cleaning your cat tree shouldn’t be an event marked on the calendar like an annual dentist visit. Instead, it should be a part of your regular house cleaning routine. But how often is often enough?

  • Weekly: A quick vacuum to deal with hair and dander should be done at least once a week. It’s also a good idea to wipe down surfaces with a cat-friendly cleaner to keep odors at bay.
  • Monthly: A deeper clean, involving disassembly and stain treatment, can be done every month. Depending on the usage and your cat’s behavior, you might need to adjust the frequency.
  • As Needed: Accidents happen. If there’s a noticeable stain or a sudden flea infestation, it’s time for an impromptu cleaning session.

Regular cleaning not only keeps the cat tree looking nice but also helps to extend its life and ensures it remains a safe and healthy spot for your furry friend.

Quick Tips for Daily Maintenance

Between the deep cleans, here are some simple daily maintenance tips:

  • Spot Check: Make it a habit to visually inspect the cat tree each day. Look for any loose threads, broken parts, or suspicious stains.
  • Quick Vacuum: If you notice an excess of fur, don’t wait for your weekly cleaning – do a quick vacuum.
  • Immediate Stain Treatment: If a mess happens, attend to it right away. The sooner you tackle a stain, the easier it will be to remove.
  • Rotation: Consider rotating the toys or parts of the cat tree, if possible. This can help reduce wear and tear in particular areas.

Tip: Invest in a small handheld vacuum. It’s a game-changer for quick and easy daily cleanups.

Consistency is key when it comes to maintaining a clean cat tree. These small daily efforts can make a huge difference over time, reducing the amount of work needed during those deeper cleanings. Plus, your cat will thank you for their ever-fresh playground!


Well, there you have it, folks – the alpha and omega of cleaning a cat tree, with no stone left unturned. We’ve embarked on a feline cleanliness odyssey together, and I hope you’re feeling pumped and ready to conquer that cat tree with your new-found knowledge.

Keeping your cat’s tree clean may seem like a Herculean task, but it’s all for a great cause: your cat’s health and happiness. And let’s face it, our feline friends are basically royalty, right? They deserve a clean and sparkling castle to reign over.

Cleanliness is not just about maintaining a pleasant home environment, it’s a sign of love and care for our fluffy companions. So, the next time you’re armed with a vacuum and cat-friendly disinfectant, know that you’re not just cleaning a cat tree, you’re creating a safe, comfortable space for your cat to play, relax, and rule.

In conclusion, the task of cleaning a cat tree is like the task of cleaning a miniature castle with many chambers and towers. But with the comprehensive guide we’ve provided, we hope it feels a bit less daunting.

As Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” So go forth, brave cat owners, start your cleaning journey and may your cat trees be ever clean and fresh!

For more tips, tricks, and feline fun, don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog. Keep those claws sharp and those cat trees clean!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Disinfectant Can I Use That Is Safe for Cats?

Choosing a disinfectant safe for cats is crucial. Avoid using disinfectants containing phenols and quaternary ammonium compounds. An easy alternative is to use diluted vinegar, which is a safe, natural option. You could also opt for pet-friendly commercial disinfectants. Always remember to rinse well and dry fully after disinfecting.

How Do I Get Rid of the Smell in My Cat Tree?

To eliminate unwanted smells from your cat tree, start with cleaning it thoroughly using a cat-friendly disinfectant. If smells persist, a solution made of half vinegar and half water can be very effective. After cleaning, make sure to air dry the cat tree. For lingering odors, you might consider a pet-friendly odor neutralizer.

How Often Should I Clean My Cat Tree?

Ideally, you should clean your cat tree thoroughly every two to three months. However, weekly vacuuming and spot cleaning are beneficial for maintaining the cleanliness and longevity of the tree. A clean cat tree is essential for your cat’s health and your home’s cleanliness.

Can I Use Baking Soda to Clean the Cat Tree?

Yes, baking soda is a safe and natural cleaning agent that can help eliminate unwanted odors from your cat tree. After removing visible dirt and fur, sprinkle baking soda on the cat tree, leave it for 15-20 minutes, and then vacuum thoroughly. Please note, it won’t remove stains, just odors.

Can You Clean a Cat Tree With Vinegar?

Absolutely! Vinegar is a natural and safe option for cleaning cat trees. Dilute it with an equal amount of water, then spray it on the cat tree, scrub lightly, and let it air dry. Not only does it clean, but it also helps neutralize odors. Just remember, some cats might not like the vinegar smell.

How Do I Maintain the Cleanliness of My Cat Tree Between Deep Cleans?

Regular maintenance is key. Vacuum the cat tree weekly to remove fur and dust. Immediately clean any accidents with a pet-friendly stain and odor remover. Regularly inspect the cat tree for any damage or loose parts and repair them as needed to keep your cat safe and the tree in good condition.

What If My Cat Tree Is Infested With Fleas?

If your cat tree is infested with fleas, it’s crucial to act fast. Start by vacuuming thoroughly, then use a pet-friendly insecticide specifically designed to kill fleas. Remember to also treat your cat with a vet-approved flea treatment, as re-infestation can occur if your cat still has fleas.

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