What are Cat Trees?

wiseGEEK Writer

Cat trees may be the ultimate luxury item for indoor kitties. While the outdoor cat has access to real trees, the indoor cat may miss the ability to climb, to sharpen their claws or to roost high above traffic-congested areas on the floor of the house. An indoor cat, acting on instinct can easily decide to use furniture to fulfill its needs. Your couch may become an easy target for scratching, and the cat may climb up on high bookcases or shelves knocking things down as he or she goes.

Indoor cats can be trained to scratch on cat trees rather than furniture.
Indoor cats can be trained to scratch on cat trees rather than furniture.

Cat trees range from simple to complex, and can help satisfy a cat’s needs so your furniture and valuables don’t become a target. Simple cat trees may have a post or two, with several roosting stations (flat platforms) upon which the cat can rest. Posts may be carpeted, covered in rope, or made of real wood. They attach to a wooden base that helps keep the tree stable for vigorous climbing.

Cat trees may be listed in the local classifieds.
Cat trees may be listed in the local classifieds.

Some cat trees are very detailed. They may offer multiple climbing posts, each with a different type of covering. A cat with a luxury cat tree could have access to wooden, carpeted and rope-lined posts, all on one cat tree. Cat trees can also combine the popular kitty condo, a covered platform that allows the cat to get out of the way and hide, high up on one of the posts. Cat trees can also vary in height. Some stretch from floor to ceiling, while others are anywhere from three to six feet (.91-1.83m) in height.

Choosing a cat tree depends much on the behavior of your furry friend. If a cat isn’t particularly prone to climbing up high, he or she may not need a deluxe cat tree in the home. On the other hand, if you find yourself removing the cat from bookcases and shelves on a regular basis, a cat tree might be just what the doctor or vet, in this case, would order. A cat that uses your furniture or drapery to sharpen claws clearly needs a place to scratch. Sometimes these needs can be met by purchasing a simple scratching post, which may be more attractive to the cat than your couch.

Any good cat tree needs to be stable. If a cat tree or scratching post falls while a cat is using it, the cat may never wish to use it again. Cats are smart and tend to be wary of things that have scared them in the past. Thus look for cat trees with a relatively large base, that can’t easily tip. If the tree has multiple posts, it is likely to be more stable than a single post tree.

You should consider just how much space your have in your house to devote to a cat tree, how many cats you own, and how much you want to spend. Luxury cat trees can cost anywhere from 200-500 US dollars (USD), but a cat that merely needs a simple scratching post and a perch translates to less expensive cat trees. The simplest and usually shortest cat trees can be purchased for under 100 USD. You might also find a gently used cat tree in classified ads or on sites like craigslist. You should definitely measure the area where you want to place the cat tree so you can figure height requirements and allowable space for the base.

If you own multiple cats, look for cat trees that offer more than one scratching post and several perches. A two-cat home warrants at least two posts and two perches on the cat tree. This can lessen fighting between cats about which cat gets first access to the tree, and it may reduce undesirable marking of the tree with urine. You might consider making your own cat tree, though this can sometimes be just as expensive. Books on constructing furniture for animals can help you design perfect cat trees to suit all your cat’s climbing, scratching and roosting needs.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


My cats love their cat tree house, and spend hours on it every day. I don't know how anyone can own cats and not have this type of feline furniture for them. Without it, I would have to share my furniture with my cats much more than I already do!

Post your comments
Forgot password?