Should You Buy Used Cat Beds, Carriers, and Toys at Garage Sales?

People sometimes sell used cat beds, toys, and towers at garage sales. Usually, the prices are great as well.

Should you buy used cat beds and toys?

Maybe. It depends on your risk level and the effort you are willing to put into cleaning items.

There are potential issues with used cat beds and toys. Please don’t assume the seller cleaned the item before including it in their yard sale.


The first thing to consider is the condition of the item. While it may be a good deal, you may not want to take it home if the item is worn out.

Does the item appear to be in good condition? Are there frays that could be dangerous to your cat?


A concern with any used cat item is how the thing smells. Your cat will likely be able to smell the previous cat which may deter them from using it.

Also, the item might stink like the previous home. For example, if the owner smokes inside their home, the cat bed will smell like it.

It’s possible that a former cat may have peed on the item.

And keep in mind that cats can smell better than humans, so your cat will likely smell things you can’t.

A worst-case scenario would be for your cat to spray on the item to cover up the smells of the other cat. And you don’t want that, as when a cat sprays to mark something, it can smell worse than urine.

Contiguous Tag Alongs

The used item could have fleas, unhatched flea eggs, mites, ringworm, or other contagious things you don’t want to expose your cat to.

The “awesome deal” will cost you more if your cat needs a vet visit or is treated for fleas, ringworm, or other parasites.

How To Clean Used Cat Items

With proper cleaning, a used item can be low risk to give to your cat.

Non-porous items like plastic cat carriers and food bowls will be easier to clean. Food bowls can be sterilized in the dishwasher washer.

Cat carriers made of plastic can be washed out with soap and water. Or, for extra protection, use Rescue wipes (affiliate link).

Rescue disinfectant quickly kills most parasites on non-porous surfaces.  Rescue also comes in a liquid form which can be sprayed onto things. Be sure to follow the directions on the container.

If possible, porous items, like cat beds and toys, should be washed in the washing machine. You could also try spraying Rescue onto them, but it may be less effective. You can also vacuum cat beds to remove fleas or eggs that haven’t hatched yet.

Related: How to Clean a Cat Tree or Tower

The Verdict

Buying used cat items can save you money. Our first cat carrier was purchased at a garage sale for $5. We’ve had it for more than twenty years!

However, you should use caution, especially with harder-to-clean items, to reduce the risk of exposing your cat to unwanted smells or problems.

Plastic cat carriers are much more easily cleaned and sterilized than porous cat beds. So, depending on the item, you can decide if the used cat item is worth the risk or hassle.

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Heidi Bender is the writer and founder of the Joy of Cats. She enjoys sharing cat information and providing helpful cat tips. She considers herself a cat lady and currently cares for eight cats.

1 thought on “Should You Buy Used Cat Beds, Carriers, and Toys at Garage Sales?”

  1. Thanks for this informative article, Heidi! It may be helpful to readers.
    My personal choice, however, would be NO. We inherited my parents’ cat’s scratcher and a few other things which are very usable and which I know are clean. But buying anything like this from someone I don’t know? NOPE.


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