“You can never have too many cat trees”

Homemade vertical spaces for cats-x

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“You can never have too many cat trees”. Marc said that and he knows. He is correct. It makes me a bit guilty. The vertical dimension is very important to the domestic cat. Cat trees are important because they allow a cat to move vertically. For a cat, moving vertically is part and parcel of life. If a cat is prevented from moving vertically, a part of his desires are curbed and a part of his skills are underutilized. Do cat caretakers, in general, do enough? I confess that I don’t, but because Charlie has three legs, climbing and descending is a problem. The demand for vertical space is lessened.

Domestic cats have evolved from the semi-arboreal African or Near Eastern wild cat. “Semi-arboreal” means a cat that likes to climb trees and be in trees some of the time. Some wild cat species are tree dwellers. The African wildcat is not a tree dweller but is a good climber and spends some time in trees.

..the African wildcat does most of its hunting on the ground, though it can climb well if pursued1 (so being high up is a sanctuary for this wildcat)

When cats are in pens or enclosures at a cattery or shelter they spend less time on the floor than on raised platforms. When you go to a boarding cattery it is quite likely that your cat will be resting on a raised platform.  High structures that provide vantage points are used more frequently than low ones by cats.

The main problem for cats living most or all their life indoors is that compared to the outdoors the environment is relatively “impoverished”. It can be dull and under-stimulating. It is too predictable. Predictability can lead to stress via boredom.

Cats should have two types of resting place:

  1. on the floor and enclosed on three sides (for security)
  2. an elevated position with a good view (the outside for example).

These resting places are important in preventing problems with behavior in multi-cat homes. Scratching posts (large and solid) can be placed next to the resting areas.


  1. Wild Cats of the World page 94
  2. Photo by Erik Burton

7 thoughts on ““You can never have too many cat trees””

  1. Michael, I think that a shelter with three sides is not secure enough for outdoor cats. They need a handy escape route. Two exits, or at least the ability to run in two directions. Of course I am talking about California. I cannot speak for seriously cold climates. The instructions for making feral cat houses in cold areas usually have small entrances without an extra exit. Marvin will not sleep with anything over his head. I’ve made his little shelter using pillows and Daisy’s old beds propped up against a chair to keep the wind from blowing on him. Of course, all of that is probably more for me, than him. The heated pad is a luxury he didn’t have before. Sometimes I peek out the window to see him, and he is kneading away on his bed. My wish for him to sleep inside is also selfish. He loves being outside. It is all he knows. I am grateful he is willing to come inside for visits.

    Yellow has many high spots in the garden. She is a climber. And, for an old gal, pretty agile.

    • DW, I think your experiences have refined what I stated. What you might be saying is that individual cats have their own preferences. And two exits could be right. I don’t know. You can’t beat first hand experience which is what you have.

    • Monty prefers to sleep with something over his head. I assumed that went back to his feral kitten days, his mom hiding the kittens.

  2. My cats all love the cat trees. The all climb on them and sleep in the little hammocks and cubbyholes everyday. I’m about to head home from work and I’ll bet you I can see into my bedroom window to see Lilly and possibly Gigi on the cat trees looking right back out the window at me.

    They love the little hammocks – and high places. There is one which is higher than all the others – much taller than me. It’s a place they all like to go for a bit each day and it’s out of reach of humans which is good. It’s entirely their space on a cat tree. I also have some low to the ground cat tree type things with little caves where they go in one hole and can appear out another hole 2 or 3 levels above. They like all these things really. I actually need more!

      • Well some it certainly is. I have alot more plans for it including a full system of shelves and perches so they can navigate the whole place up high without having to touch the ground – including outside on the balcony. They just seem to love any kind of bridge or tunnel or cave or what have you! There can never be too many for my 3 anyway.

    • Total proof that the domestic cat needs a high place to rest and feel comfortable. Every house should have cat trees. I don’t how many don’t have cat trees. When there are no cat trees in a home cats find alternatives such as the back of sofas. They just need something high up.


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