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Cat owners approach cat care in many different ways. Some owners want to spoil their cats with lavish litter boxes, super premium spa days or ultra-premium diets. Others love their cats even more than their kids.
While that level of affection is a bit extreme, one easy and relatively affordable means for all cat owners to tend to their cats is to buy a cat tree. It’s a great idea to consider if you want to improve your cat’s happiness, health and comfort.
Picking the purrfect cat tree for your feline isn’t as hard as getting a rocket to Mars, but it’s still a good idea to understand cat trees and accessories a bit more so you can make the best choice.
In this article are a few major considerations for buying a cat tree, specifically:
A brief preface: this article talks about indoor, already manufactured cat trees. We won’t be discussing outdoor or DIY cat trees. Without further ado, let’s get started!
When deciding on cat trees, it’s vital to assess them using the same or at least similar criteria. The satisfaction of your cat depends on your sound judgment, so the better your choice, the happier your cat. In no particular order, here are some important cat tree traits.
Tall, medium, or short – what height is just right for your cat? There is a variety of different sized cat trees, with some as low as 33 inches and some as high as 79 inches. There are cat trees that even go all the way to the ceiling.
Cats like heights because it’s part of their instincts. Occupying a high vantage point is an opportunity to perch, observe and relax, much like their ancestors did when looking for their next meal, avoiding a predator or resting.
A higher cat tree offers an elevated point of view and more security to a cat, but it might be too dangerous for certain cats to use, like those that have an injury, are old, large or too young. Conversely, if a cat tree is too low, your cat might not be able to embrace its instincts as fully as with a taller product.
When space is limited or when you have an injured, old or large cat, or have a kitten, a short cat tree is likely the best option. Relatively healthy cats might like this kind of cat tree too, but for them, you can also consider medium-tall cat trees.
Remember though that the taller the cat tree, the harder it is to keep stable. And that leads us to the next trait…
This trait is arguably the most important. No matter how much money you spend, no matter how attractive or suitable for your home the cat tree is, none of that matters if the cat tree isn’t stable.
Why is stability so important? The answer is simple: the cat needs to trust the cat tree.
Wobbly cat trees don’t give cats confidence. It won’t want to climb, perch or maybe even scratch a cat tree that could potentially collapse or fall apart at a moment’s notice.
Anytime the cat interacts with the cat tree is a test of the product’s stability. And if on even just a single occasion the cat feels like the cat tree is insufficiently stable, the cat might not trust it anymore and will likely stop using it.
All cats might not be this picky, but it’s better to air on the side of caution and find a very stable cat tree so you can safeguard your cat, home and ensure you don’t waste money on a shoddy product.
Can you imagine anyone that wakes up and says to their cat, “Hey Mr. Whiskers, let’s go get you a horrendously ugly cat tree!”?
Mr. Whiskers probably doesn’t care what the cat tree looks like. But you likely do. Cat trees are meant for your fuzzy friend, but they also need to suit your preferences.
Cat tree styles abound to cater to the tastes of many different types of cat owners. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
And we can’t forget about color. Cats are not completely colorblind, and in fact live in a colorful world, but when compared to the colors that humans perceive, there is certainly a difference.
When choosing a color for your cat tree, only you can appreciate its full spectrum. Maybe a black cat tree is best? Or a grey cat tree? Maybe a pink one?
No matter the style and color you think your cat will enjoy, it can’t swipe your credit card to purchase the cat furniture it wants. That decision is up to you. Before buying, maybe you can have a little chat with your kitty and make the choice together?
It’s cliché to say, but worth mentioning anyway: you get what you pay for. It’s not reasonable to expect to pay $5 for a top-of-the-line cat tree. Most cat trees start at $20 and up.
For around $20, you can get a very basic “cat tree”, if it can even still be called that. The more you spend, the more you’ll get in terms of cat tree accessories, height and material quality.
Some cat trees are a great blend of value, style and functionality. By contrast, if you buy a really cheap cat tree, you might end up hurting your cat or damaging whatever is surrounding it because the product is shabby, falls apart or is inherently dangerous (e.g., it has sharp protruding parts or edges).
Cat trees aren’t made of rainbows, fairy dust and cat nip, I can tell you that right off the bat.
Generally speaking, most cat trees are made of some combination of the following:
As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, a cat tree is not a tree with cats stuck on it. They’re really a combination of accessories that form an opportunity for your cat to unwind, stretch, have fun and much more.
These are some of the most common cat tree accessories:
As you can see above, many of these examples combine several cat tree accessories all at once. In light of all the different combinations, how do you pick the best cat tree? We’ll get to that next.
You’ve thought about cat trees and have consulted your kitty. They’re now on your (and your cat’s) mind. But maybe you’re still on the fence. You might not know which one is best for your cat in particular; you might not even think getting one is worthwhile.
To help your decision making and general understanding of cat trees and accessories, here are some questions people often ask about them.
Health: cats can use the scratching post on a cat tree to stretch and use their claws. Scratching posts help them remove dead parts of their nails and express emotions (if your cat is frustrated or anxious, for example, it might want to scratch more).
Stimulation: cats get to swat hanging fur ball toys, interact with sisal rope and climb or jump up or down the cat tree.
Instincts: inside a human home isn’t really similar to the environments where the ancestors of modern house cats developed. Cat trees help bring a little bit of that environment back by allowing them to express their instincts.
Cats want an area that’s theirs. A place where they feel safe. Cat trees offer the chance to go to a high location and observe what’s below them, much like they would if they were stalking prey (don’t forget, no matter how cute and cuddly they seem, cats are apex predators).
Having that vantage point is essential to helping your cat feel more in touch with its instincts, but that’s not the only one to consider.
Scratching is also one of their instincts. It’s a means of marking territory (there are scent glands in the cat’s paws), stretching and maintaining claw health.
Worth mentioning as well is that if you don’t buy a cat tree or something like it, your cat will indulge its instincts elsewhere…like maybe by clawing that nice new furniture you bought.
It’s important to first clarify – dangerous to whom, or what?
Cat trees are sometimes dangerous to cats, babies, toddlers and young children. The main reason is stability. An unstable or poorly made cat tree is more likely to topple, which could injure your little ones.Additionally, if the cat tree has not gone through proper quality control checks or is not correctly assembled, it might easily break.
Another point: multiple cats. In the case of several cats using the same cat tree, they might get into fights over territory and injure one another. To avoid this problem, some cat owners advocate for one cat tree per cat, and if you follow this approach, you might avoid kitty conflicts.
And then there are your possessions. Your cat might jump to or from the cat tree to some of your furniture, ledges or some other spot within range of a leap. This process might cause the cat tree to topple or could, over time, damage your belongings.
Some examples will help illustrate these concerns.
Pretend for a moment that there’s a priceless porcelain vase on a ledge near your cat tree. Mr. Whiskers is sitting on the cat tree and then decides he wants to jump to the ledge. In this process, he might knock over the vase, which after it breaks into sharp shards, could pose a hazard to him and everyone else.Here’s another example. Imagine your cat wants to flex its inner apex predator while it’s perched on top of a cat tree next to an open window with a screen. Sure, there’s a screen, but what if the cat sees a tasty looking bird singing outside and tries to pounce? Some cats have the restraint to not to leap because they realize there’s a screen, but not all. If it tries to jump outside, it might injure itself and damage the window.
Cats are drawn to cat trees because they can use them to express their instincts. Over the centuries cats have evolved into household pets, but that doesn’t signify they’ve shed all their innate, instinctual impulses.
Generally speaking, cats like heights, and when cats climb to vantage points, it’s like they’re back in the wild stalking prey down below or avoiding a predator. Up high, cats have a feeling of safety and comfort.
Cat health is just something cats “do”. They don’t think “Wow! The scratching post on this cat tree is great for the health of my claws! I need to give it a good rake.” The cat just does what it wants.
A scratching post on a cat tree offers kitties the opportunity to follow their instincts via stretching, maintaining the condition of their claws and marking their territory. All of these are important ways to preserve your cat’s health and happiness…and hopefully, keep it from scratching your more valuable furniture!
How to make cat trees more stable?
If you’re absolutely certain where you want to place a cat tree, you can consider using some long screws to fasten it to the floor. This option is a little more extreme, but if you’ve got several cats, fat cats, or several fat cats, you might have to break out your toolbox.
A more common approach to improving cat tree stability is attaching a tether to the cat tree or buying a cat tree with one already attached. You can then use the tether to join the cat tree to a sturdy nearby wall. You’ll want to connect the screw to a wall stud for optimal sturdiness.
One additional idea is to place some weights or heavy objects at the bottom of the cat tree to add more weight to the base, which will also improve stability.
Many cat owners prefer to put cat trees in their living room, in a bedroom or in a corner. Even if where you’re thinking is not one of these locations, at a minimum give your cat the necessary space to interact with the cat tree.
A cat will likely see a cat tree as part of its territory, so if you have multiple cats, it’s probably best to keep the cat trees in different rooms or at least a few feet apart. Maybe a cat tree in the living room for Mr. Whiskers and one in your bedroom for Mrs. Meowingtons?
The best place to put a cat tree is ultimately subjective, but here are some questions to assist you with your decision:
- Are there other places that the cat could jump to from the cat tree?
- Is there a ceiling fan overhead the cat tree?
- Does the cat tree match the surrounding decor?
- If my cat jumps on the cat tree, plays with its toys or uses its scratching post, can I tolerate any of that noise?
- Are there any easily breakable items near the cat tree?
- Does the cat tree get enough sunlight?
- Is the cat tree near a window with a strong screen?
Large cats require a very sturdy cat tree since their extra mass means more force applied to the cat tree whenever they interact with it. The best choice is one with great stability and adequate space for lounging.
When evaluating cat tree accessories for large cats, pay attention to the max load capacity of each one. For example, if a hammock or basket can only support up to 15 pounds, it’s not a good idea for a 25-pound cat to use it. Considering this aspect in particular can help you avoid broken parts and kitty hearts.
Kittens are still developing their abilities to climb and jump. Old or injured cats, by contrast, might have a physical limit on what they can do or you might want to limit the chance of straining or further injuring your cat.
For these three types of cats, the best bet is a cat tree with a ladder, stairs or is one that’s low to the ground. This type of cat tree makes it less likely the cat will hurt itself. In the case of the kitten, as time goes by and you feel more confident in its abilities to jump and climb, you can buy it an upgraded cat tree as a nice growing up gift.
The more cats you have, the more competition for limited space on the cat tree.
If you buy a relatively spacious cat tree, then you’ll offer your feline friends more opportunities to claim their own spot. But remember, a cat might an entire cat tree for itself, so if you have multiple cats, you can evaluate buying a cat tree for each one. This way, the cats will have their own territory and you can prevent fights.
Cats love heights. Most cats love to jump, climb and get to a high vantage point. Some cats, however, are more prone to hide under sofas and beds or in a nook so small you’ve never noticed it before.
If you’ve got a shy or extremely reclusive cat, then maybe a scratching post is a better piece of cat furniture to care for your furry pal.
But this second type of cat, that avoids being in high places, is the exception rather than the norm. And even if your cat is like this, buying a cat tree, even a relatively short one, might still be worthwhile. The cat tree might be just what the cat needs to destress and be happy.
A cat with an abundance of energy is likely to fancy a higher cat tree with several toys since that’s more to climb or jump to and more toys to enjoy.
Less active cats, by contrast, might look at a tall cat tree and think “Nope! What was my human thinking?” In this case, you can consider buying an easily accessible, minimal effort cat tree, like one that is shorter and/or with a ramp or ladder.
The sociability of your cat is essential to consider if you have multiple cats.
Friendly cats might enjoy snuggling together in the same cat condo, whereas an aggressive one might want to rule an entire cat tree.
It would be a pity if you’ve got a cat tyrant that prevents your other cats from sharing the cat tree. The best option in this scenario might be to get a cat tree for just the aggressive cat and one that’s shared amongst all the rest. You could also consider getting a cat tree for each cat – this way every cat can enjoy one.
Factoring in your cat’s age and weight is a must-do for picking the best cat tree. And if you’ve got a heavy cat or one that is getting on in years, you may need to take extra steps to ensure its safety and enjoyment when using a cat tree, such as not installing cat tree accessories that don’t support heavy cats.
A cat that’s not very agile or is injured might not find enjoyment in a cat tree without a ladder or ramp since it can’t jump or climb easily. Additionally, getting up the cat tree isn’t the only concern – your cat needs to get down too. The easier the cat tree is to mount and dismount, the more an older or heavier cat is likely to enjoy it.
Aggressive? Shy? Social? Energetic? Playful? Reserved? Mysterious? Clumsy? Lazy?
Be sure to pick a relevant cat tree and accessories that you feel are tailored to your cat’s personality. If it’s too lazy or unable to jump, maybe consider a cat tree with a ramp or ladder.
If it’s energetic and playful, maybe buy one with lots of dangling ball toys, sisal rope or some other accessories. For those very shy cats out there, maybe consider purchasing a cat tree with lots of condos so they can hide more easily.
You might want to treat your cat to the VIP cat tree experience, but if you have limited space, that’s maybe not possible.
When estimating how big of an area you need for the cat tree, also factor in a suitable amount of space for your cat to jump to and from the cat tree. On top of that, there might be some accessories that extend horizontally from the cat tree, such as a hammock, that will affect whether you have enough space.
We’re not going to hide it: this website is run by Yaheetech, so I’m sure you can guess who we’re going to say has the best cat trees!
Yaheetech is proud of what we make. We’re always ecstatic to see the reviews people leave about cats enjoying our products.
To learn more about Yaheetech’s cat trees, click here.
Cat trees and accessories combine to form an excellent way to keep your cat happy and able to engage its primal instincts. Their presence in homes, offices, or wherever else cats are living might at first be greeted by suspicion, but that will quickly change once the cat realizes all the great features the cat tree offers.
British shorthairs. Ragdolls. Munchkins. Bengals. Scottish folds. Old cats, heavy cats, kittens – you name any breed, condition or age of cat, and it’s very likely they’ll benefit from and enjoy a cat tree.
Does your cat like cat trees? Do you think cat trees are missing anything nowadays? Let us know in the comments section below!
If you’ve got an amazing picture of your cat on a Yaheetech cat tree, be sure to post about it on Instagram so we can reshare it! You can find us on Instagram at yaheetech_official.