Do cats need a cat tree?
Cats need to scratch
Cats scratch for a number of important, instinctual reasons. According to Dr. Wailani Sung, "Scratching is a good form of exercise for them. They get to stretch out their bodies and extend and retract their nails. When they scratch, the movements help remove the outer nail sheaths."
Dr. Sung adds that cats also scratch to mark their territory. In addition to visual scratching cues, they also leave scents. "Their interdigital glands, which are located between the pads of their paws, leave odors behind so that other cats know that the 'marker' cat has been in the area," Dr. Sung explains.
The problem is that cat scratchers and posts, while truly essential to your cat's happiness and well-being, have typically fallen into the "ugh" decor category. But if you don’t provide your cat with a place to scratch, odds are he will choose one that displeases you—your sofa, windowsill or lovely new ottoman —so you'd probably rather provide something.
Cats need to climb
Many cats enjoy being up high and looking down on their humans either from cat trees or perches, presumably because it feels safer to them, Becker says. "Cats easily learn that toddlers, dogs and other animals have a more difficult time reaching them. When you’re the size of a cat, it probably feels a lot better to be up away from the feet and more at the standing level of people in the home as well," she says.
Cat towers and trees are popular ways to give a cat this ability. They provide your kitty a sense of privacy and safety while he observes his domain.
Placed near a window, a cat tower or perch gives your cat a bird’s-eye view of everything, including the birds, outside. This strategic placement has dual benefits: The cat gets the perception of up-high safety, and it's a form of entertainment. He can look out at the world to see the birds, squirrels and other things pass by all within the protection of his home.
Plus, on a bright, sunny day, the sun simply feels good. As Becker points out, "Cats like to enjoy the daylight and the warmth that comes from it, just like we do."
Do cats like cat trees?
Cat trees are often a good option as they contain several levels with different scratching areas, perfect for finicky cats. In fact, one study showed that cats with cat trees were less likely to scratch elsewhere than those with other types of scratching posts! A young, active cat would likely prefer a tall, multi-level activity tree with various platforms, scratch surfaces, and hunting target toys.
On the other hand, an older cat with reduced mobility would prefer something lower to the ground, without very high platforms or anything requiring too much agility. That being said, an older cat still needs stimulation and would still enjoy some dangling mice, balls, or bells to play with.
Another thing to consider is whether your cat remains indoors or goes outside. If your cat goes outside, they will likely get a fair amount of stimulation, fun, and exercise in their outdoor environment, so there isn’t so much demand for an ‘all-singing, all-dancing cat tree as there would be for an indoor cat.
Some cats like to hide or survey their surroundings from a high vantage point, away from the hustle and bustle of human life. Take this into consideration when choosing a scratch post or tree, since there are many available that have hideyholes and high platforms.
The best places in your home for a cat tree
Generally speaking, giving your cat their own allocated space in a room of the house is often appreciated. This doesn’t mean you can’t approach them and play or interact with them if they seem keen, but it means they can retreat to their own space if they choose to.
However, cats also like to scratch as a way to stretch after waking, so providing a post near their favorite sleeping spot may be helpful. Don’t forget, a scratching post is a key resource for cats. That means you’ll need one for each cat, plus one spare. They don’t all have to be huge but making sure there’s a few posts dotted around the house increases the chance that they will use them.
There is a type of cat tree that has multiple components like shelves, tunnels, or hides that fix onto the wall. This can be a great space-saving way to allow your cat to exhibit their natural behaviors whilst indoors, without compromising floor space in your home interior.
What’s your cat’s style?
There are a lot of different types of cat trees to consider: some have condos (or little compartments) that allow cats to hide, some have toys built in and some are very tall while others are lower to the ground. Don’t be overwhelmed! First, ask yourself these questions to help narrow down your options:
How many cats do you have?
All roommates fight, and that includes our pets. When animals are in a spat, they may block or guard an opening in a cat tree, trapping a cat inside. “So, if you have multiple cats or a mix of cats and dogs, make sure your cat tree’s condos have both an entrance and an exit,” Bloom says. That way, cats have multiple ways to get in and out.
Is your cat a scratcher?
Most cats really enjoy scratchers, but it’s not a “one size fits all” situation! Some cats like their scratcher to be horizontal, while others prefer vertical. Before investing in a cat tree, Bloom recommends testing out a regular cat scratcher. Present it to your cat on the ground, at belly level, and at an angle where they need to stand on their hind legs to scratch it. See how your cat interacts with it. Most cats have a preference, and you’ll have the best results with your cat tree if it matches your cat’s optimal scratching angle.
Does your cat like heights?
Perching up high is an instinct many cats have—but no two cats are completely alike. So, consider your cat’s natural inclination to scale furniture and shelves. A cat who likes to hide under the bed might have more fun with a small cat tree that’s low to the ground, while a cat who’s always perched on the highest surface in the room would thrive with a tall cat tree.
How active is your cat?
“There are three major factors to consider when making a smart purchase for your cat: health, age and athleticism,” says Bloom. Simply put, cats in their senior years are less likely to jump around than kittens and younger adults. A taller cat tree with more space between the levels might be exciting for a younger cat, but intimidating for an older cat. If your older cat suddenly seems disinterested in the cat tree they used to love, it may be time to swap in a cat tree that better fits their lifestyle, like a shorter model or one with more ramps or ladders.
How playful is your cat?
Some cats truly prefer to engage with their humans, but a cat who’s good at playing independently will flourish with a cat tree that has toys on it. You can even attach your own toys to a cat tree to make it an ideal play space for your cat.
How social is your cat?
If you have a cat who tends to tuck into nooks and crannies—not just when they’re frightened, but rather as a comfort tactic—look for a cat tree with condos to give them a little hideout.
These are what you need to consider. Always visit our store for some suggestions!