Categories: climbing

Why do cats like to climb?

Why do cats like to climb? We are of course talking about the domestic cat. There is a very simple answer which fully explains this behaviour without more. Domestic cats have evolved from the semi-arboreal African wild cat. ‘Semi-arboreal’ means an animal who likes to be in trees but also lives on the ground.

The dictionary definition is:

“often inhabiting and frequenting trees but not completely arboreal..”

In short the domestic cat has inherited from his wild cat forebear the instinctive desire to climb. It is hard-wired into his/her DNA. Moving vertically is as natural as moving horizontally for the African wild cat and the domestic cat.

That is the end of the article! I need say no more but I will because Google wants me to. Recently I took a photograph of my cat Gabriel in his ‘tree house’. I bought him a climber with platforms and placed a ‘tree house’ at the top. He likes to snooze in it from time to time. It is my attempt to satisfy his desire to climb and be off the ground.

Photo: Michael Broad

The quality of cat space is more important than the quantity. Most cats (all cats?) enjoy climbing and jumping and spend much of their time off the ground. They use elevated areas as vantage points from which to monitor their surroundings. Therefore in a cat enclosure of whatever kind there should be something which allows a cat to climb! To use the language of Jackson Galaxy, catification is necessary.

Incidentally, it is no surprise to learn that cats prefer a would substrate (surface) over plastic. They also prefer substances which maintain a constant temperature such as wood, fabric, straw and hay. That’s why a wood climber is best. In multi-cat household there should be enough climbing constructions and platforms to accommodate them all as cats most often rest alone.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • What a great tree house, Michael. Gabriel looks quite content. He has a satisfying view of his domain.☺️💜💜🐾

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