If you’re a newer cat owner or on the path to adopting or purchasing a cat then a cat tree should definitely be something you consider purchasing for your household. Cat trees are a wonderful accessory for a household with cats because of the versatility they bring all packaged up in one product.
But before you pull the trigger and get one let’s run through the major pros and cons of cat trees so you have a full picture before you make the purchase. The simple fact is you might have a lot of the major benefits covered by other products you already own so a cat tree might not be a necessity. This guide should help you answer the question ‘do cats need a cat tree?‘
What Are The Benefits?
Cat Trees provide all sorts of amazing benefits for your cats (and those typically result in benefits for you from a sanity standpoint):
- A Home Gym: Cat trees provide great exercise be letting your cat climb and jump all over. The multi-level design encourages your cat to jump up and down which is great for keeping their muscles in top notch condition. On top of this cat trees are generally covered in holes and caverns to mimic a maze that will keep your cat interested and curious.
- A Huge Scratching Post: If you’ve already had a cat then you know scratching is in their blood and it is pretty much impossible to stop the behavior. Given this you’ll want to redirect it to a place that is acceptable, and cat trees fit the bill perfectly. Cat trees are designed to take a beating from cat claws and stay standing, this is why they are typically completely covered in carpet. Most cat trees also come with special locations that have either sisal or rope for your cat to scratch, but if you look around you can find ones that have vertical, angled, or horizontal scratchers built right in.
- A Safe Place to Sleep: Cats like to be up high, it is in their genes because it is an ideal location to hunt from. On top of this cats also see high places as safe places to sleep because they are off the ground where other larger predators may roam. Cat trees typically have a nice top level on them that is an ideal sleeping place for your furry friend. You can even enhance the space by adding some your cats favorite bed or a lamb wool covering.
Are There Drawbacks?
While Cat Trees are an awesome addition for your cats they certainly do have some drawbacks that are worth considering. Let’s take a quick walk through those:
- Space: Cat Trees and cat furniture in general do come in varying shapes and sizes, but most cat trees are pretty imposing from a space perspective. They’re usually a few feet long and a few feet wide and mine stands at just under six feet tall which is about as tall as I am. This means that you need to ensure you have a spot for your cat tree before you purchase it. As more and more of us are moving to the city this is a tougher consideration because space is at a premium. Be sure to check the measurements before you buy!
- Cost: Cat trees range anywhere from $50 dollars to upwards of $2000 dollars. No joke, this cat tree right here is $2000 dollars. While I consider myself cat crazy already (I run a cat blog right?) I don’t think I could ever shell out $2000 dollars for a cat tree. The whole goal of your cat tree is provide exercise, entertainment & a safe place for your cat to sleep while bringing yourself some sanity. You’re likely to get almost the same amount of benefit out of an affordable cat tree and you also won’t feel frustrated if your cat decides not to use it.
- Construction: While most cat trees are pretty straight forward to construct and only require a hex/alan wrench, do keep in mind that it is pretty difficult to buy one that is built right out of the box. There are plenty of pieces of cat furniture you can get from Petco or Petsmart that are fully constructed, but a typical cat tree simply wouldn’t fit in your car easily. Be sure to take into account that you’ll need to build it.
- Cats Are Fickle: It took weeks for my cats to take any interest in the cat tree when we got it initially. I’ve also heard numerous tales of cats that simply have zero interest in a cat tree months after purchasing it (as with any product). Don’t worry, they’ll be interested in the box though. This can be incredibly frustrating, especially if it is paired with having purchased a high end expensive cat tree. You can test your cat before buying a large tree by experimenting with smaller pieces of cat furniture first.
What Alternatives Are There?
There are all kinds of alternatives to cat trees on the market, the alternatives to consider though are going to depend on the reason(s) you were considering purchasing a cat tree. I’ll provide a few alternates ideas for each of the major areas I explored above:
- Exercise: Some cats simply aren’t as interested in climbing as others and as cats get older climbing can become more difficult. To keep your cat entertained you can consider all different kinds of ways to play with your cat. This article will provide a quick summary of great options, but a few straight away are wand toys, laser pointers and my favorite cheap option is simply a piece of string (don’t leave it out once you’re finished playing).
- Scratching: If you know what you need is a place for your cat to scratch then you might just want to get a high quality scratching post instead of a full scale cat tree. I’d personally recommend the Pioneer Ultimate Cat Scratching Post, you can check out my review of it here. It has served me well personally and we constantly use it at the shelter I volunteer at.
- Sleeping: If your kitty is looking for a nice comfy place to sleep the day away but doesn’t seem to like to sleep on the couch or on the ground then you might want to look at a window bed. My cats both love their window bed and constantly zonk out in the bed while the sun is shining. It is high up and comfortable and far less invasive than a cat tree.
Any Recommended Trees
Cat trees in general last a long time so I’ve only gone through a few of them in my home personally. That being said I’ve seen a lot of them in use over the years as well. We currently have the Go Pet Club 62″ Cat Tree. You can read my review of it here. Generally I’m quite satisfied with it and would recommend it to pretty much anyone that doesn’t have a very large cat like a Maine Coon or a Ragdoll.
Do Cats Need a Cat Tree – Let’s Wrap It Up
So do cats need a cat tree or not? There’s a lot to account for when deciding whether or not you want to buy a cat tree. If you have the space and don’t mind a little light construction when it arrives in the mail or from the store then I’d highly recommend purchasing one. You can get cat trees pretty much anywhere these days, even discount online retailers like Joss and Main put them up for sale from time to time.
If you have any additional thoughts on cat trees and why you think one might be handy (or not) to have around the house then please leave a comment below or email me at Craig@StuffCatsWant.com so I can update the article to reflect your thoughts!