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No matter how big a part parkour has played in video games like the Assassin’s Creed and Uncharted franchises, or how drastically it went viral around 2014, we can all agree on the pioneers of this extreme sport – cats. Our four legged feline friends put ninjas to shame with their ability to climb the tallest and most improbable heights, be it the fridge, bookshelves, and on some memorable occasions the narrow sliver at the top of an open door. Climbing vertical surfaces is very much part of a cat’s DNA – there’s a reason they’re notorious for getting stuck in trees. It’s an instinct hard-wired into them for everything from sating their playful and energetic natures to helping them feel safe and secure in their surroundings.
Which is why a cat tree is all but a necessity in a home with cats.
Cat trees help make indoor cats feel safe and comfortable
Climbing improbable heights isn’t just a quirk – settling on a high perch allows cats to scan their surroundings and get more of a bird’s eye (or should we say a ‘cat’s eye’?) view of their environment. Being able to keep an eye on where they are, and so be aware of anyone, from a human to a fellow cat, approaching so they don’t get startled and feel threatened, lets your furry friends relax without having to keep their hackles up at all times. This is especially important because despite being domesticated, indoor cats are still quintessentially built ‘for the hunt’, so to speak, and the elevated platforms of a cat tree allow your kitty to exercise their natural instincts without having to curb them, which can have harmful psychological and emotional effects on their wellbeing.
If you have more than one cat, cat trees with multiple perches are also a fantastic way of keeping the peace and preventing territorial battles from breaking out. Much of this depends on your cats’ personalities, but you’ll often find kitties unable to share a surface like a window-ledge or a chair together without it ending up in a mini battle royale. Separate cat perches on a cat tree does away with this problem since your pets can claim platforms to themselves and get to stare out the window or keep a watchful eye on their surroundings, but without having to fight for it.
Cat trees give your cats a place to play and exercise
Indoor cats tend to live longer than outdoor or stray cats, but for their physical and emotional wellbeing they need to be able to exercise and keep fit. All cat owners know that their bursts of energy and playfulness are no joke, and getting to work that out is integral to your cat’s happiness. To keep them from getting lazy, overweight and emotionally distressed, a cat tree is a straightforward solution to keeping them entertained for hours, with platforms to climb, corners to navigate, toys to play with similar to their hunting instincts in the wild, and nooks and crannies to wiggle around in for treats, especially when you’re not around to keep them company.
Cat trees keep your furniture safe
Your home is essentially made up of furniture and surfaces you, the pet-owner, need or want, and while your cats will share all that with you, having a separate environment just for your cat is beneficial both to your furry friend and to yourself. For starters, cats are quite territorial, and like marking up areas they consider their own with their scent. Confusing scents of different people and other pets on the couch or carpet might trouble them, or even trigger problematic behavior like peeing in order to stake a claim on a particular part of the house. Giving your cat their own corner to play in allows your cats to mark up an area as their own space where they can relax and feel at home, without feeling threatened. An affinity to this space by extension keeps your furniture and carpets safe too, minimizing the stray hairs, pet smells and the likelihood of accidents happening around your home. In fact, most cat trees are structured out of carpet and sisal ropes, which cats love to scratch at to assuage the instinctual need to trim their claws – so that’s another destructive habit you can limit to a handy cat tree rather than subject your armchairs and coffee tables to, and you’re both happy.
Shopping for the right cat tree
As much as a crazy rampage through the house at three in the morning or their baffling urge to push things off of counters can get frustrating pretty quickly, it’s always good to remember that our little feline friends aren’t misbehaving most of the time – merely following their instincts and being themselves. The best way to allow them the space to do that without turning your home into a disaster zone is to let them have their own territory indoors, and a good cat tree is a great way of doing this. A sturdy option is an absolute must – if the posts wobble or the structure feels unsteady as your cat is leaping up, they’ll likely become frightened and nervous to use it again. A rugged option that can stand up to your cat’s ninja training with all the parkour, pouncing and preening is the right option for longevity and for your cat’s happiness.
Also take into account the age and size of your cat, and how many cats you have or anticipate having. Cat condos for kittens are adorable, but sooner or later (or rather, sooner, because cats do grow up fast), they’ll outgrow the platforms and cubby holes and either struggle to get around or flop off the edge of the steps. Cats of different breeds may also grow to different sizes, so the type of cat tree you’d get for a Siamese cat is going to be smaller than one you’re going to need for larger cat breeds like Bengals and Maine Coons.
If you can afford it, we also suggest getting cat trees a step above the basic climbing structure with platforms. One with cubby holes or U-shaped beds are a great place for your cat to cuddle down and feel safe in, without the perceived threat of attack or need to defend their territory. Trees with multiple platforms and cubby holes are ideal for a household with multiple cats to avoid territorial disputes and give them a place to interact and play.