The cat tree in your cat’s life!
Published December 4, 2016.
A cat tree or, as some like to call it, a cat condo, is not designed only to keep your cat amused. Cat trees are often essential in a household, especially one shared by more than one cat. They are often used to resolve a variety of behavioural issues such as cat fights, territorial spraying and generalized anxiety. How can a simple cat tree be so beneficial for your cat?
Cats like to climb
You’ve undoubtedly noticed that your cat likes to climb wherever it can. Whether it’s on the kitchen table, an armchair or a bookcase, or to the top of cupboards or the fridge, cats enjoy heights, which help define their existence. Out in nature, cats are in the middle of the food chain, and are both predator and prey. When perched in a high place, cats can survey their territory and spot potential prey, but also protect themselves from predators. Since many of their predators cannot climb trees, cats know they’re safe when they’re high up.
Even though your cat doesn’t have to worry about hunting prey or protecting itself from predators in your home, it knows instinctively to go high up to survey potential danger. If you have a dog that shares the territory with your cat, the cat will appreciate having a cat tree in the main rooms of the house to help it feel secure. Whether it’s scared or needs calmness, the cat can hide in the cat tree knowing that the dog won’t be able to reach it.
This will make for a less anxious cat that will enjoy walking around all parts of the house. A nervous or scared cat might also consider a cat tree as a safe place to see what danger might be coming its way.
Being both predator and prey is not the only reason your cat enjoys being perched up high. In an environment shared by multiple cats, the dominant cat will usually claim the highest spot in a room, as long as its physical condition and age allow it. The cat that’s next in line claims the second-highest spot, and so on. If there are not enough high places available for all your felines, they might be inclined to fight or try to intimidate one another for a given territory.
A cat tree therefore becomes particularly important when several cats share the same territory, such as a small apartment, because the tree expands the territory vertically, allowing each cat to claim its perch. This will significantly reduce the number of cat fights.
Finding the right cat tree
Now that you understand the importance of owning a cat tree, it is vital to choose the one that will best meet your cats’ needs. How do you go about it? The main feature of a cat tree is its height. The taller the tree, the better positioned your cat will be to survey its territory. Moreover, because a tall cat tree has multiple levels, several cats will be able to use it based on their position in the hierarchy.
The best cat trees also provide various ways of climbing up to the highest level without disturbing cats on the lower levels, preventing unnecessary fights.
The stability of the cat tree is another feature to look for. A cat must feel secure knowing that it can run off without the tree falling on it. Look for a tree whose base is wide enough to support the tree structure.
A number of cat trees also have poles covered with cord, which cats use to sharpen their claws. Choosing this type of structure will provide a built-in scratching post, which your cat will enjoy. The cat tree will therefore serve two functions.
Finding the perfect place
Once you’ve bought your cat tree, you have to find the best place to put it. The tree must offer your cats the best overview of the room, with a view of the entrance. Placing a cat tree in front of a window or a patio door is often ideal because cats love to watch what’s going on outside.
Placing the cat tree in front of a window or patio door might even solve territorial spraying or redirected aggression problems that a cat will experience when it spots another cat outside. Since your cat is higher than the cat outside, it will feel dominant and therefore more confident.
You can get your cats used to their new tree by spreading a little catnip on the different perches, or placing their food bowls at the base of the tree or even on one of the perches. If your cats haven’t used the cat tree for more than five days, it’s in the wrong place. Move the tree until your cats enjoy using it.
In short, if you have several animals at home, or if your cats always want to climb somewhere or are anxious, a cat tree could be a gift that the whole family—your cats, your dogs and you—will appreciate.