As cat owners, we are always looking for the best way to keep our cats healthy, happy and entertained. There’s no shortage of toys and games that you can buy for your cat, but perhaps the most commonly purchased is the cat tree.
Ranging from a single level of height, right down to the to elaborate, multi-branched furniture designed to defy the laws of gravity, cat trees – like cats themselves, come in all shapes and sizes. But for their size and price, their simplicity or their extravagance, you might be wondering, ‘are cat trees worth it?’
What Value Cat Trees Have (for you and your cat)
Like it or not, a cat has to sharpen its claws. And like it or not, if you don’t have something dedicated to their wandering paws they might end up doing it all over your furniture. One thing a cat tree provides is a rough surface that they can pull and tear at to their hearts content, and once they get started they might not want to stop! Once you see the destruction a cat can wreak upon a post wrapped in rough rope, you might thank yourself for having invested the money in it, and not in some costly furniture repair.
Ever noticed how cats aim to reach the highest place in any given room? While one the reasons it’s up there, no doubt is to survey its kingdom (your house) and its subjects (you and your family), but another reason is that cats love high places is for the safety they provide. Being able to perch on a cat tree, even if only a little way off the ground, provides ample viewing (that can quickly turn into lounging) with the added feeling of security that cats, particularly timid ones, need in order to feel safe. Be careful though, a particularly tall cat tree provides its own hazards, particularly for very little – and very clumsy, kittens.
Cat trees vary wildly, and as the market for them expands, so too do the wacky shapes in which they are available. As an addition to your home, you should first make sure that it suits your own sense of aesthetics, indeed the reason they come in so many colours is to suit owners as much as their feline companions.
By providing a dedicated, interesting environment for your pet to roam around in and on top of, you should hopefully be able to keep them entertained for a while. You might find something with dangling pom-poms (particularly interesting to playful kittens), mice on springs, or even hollow boxes for them to climb into, depending on how elaborate you are willing to go.
Of course, every cat is different. A quick search online will provide you with a hundred different stories of a hundred different cat owners trying to keep their cats satisfied. Some cat trees go unused by cats with little attention span for it, becoming little more than an expensive centrepiece to your living room. Some cats will love the novelty of them, before starting to ignore them later. But a lot of cats will take to it, if you pardon the analogy, like a duck to water – and will appreciate the opportunities for mischief and play. Know your cat, what it likes and what it doesn’t, and you can’t make the wrong choice.
So while it may please a cat (with a good attention span), the question still remains – are they worth it?
It depends what you are looking to provide for your pet. Aside from the physical benefits mentioned above, the psychological benefits really stand out.
According to some animal behaviorists, cats can benefit from the addition of a cat tree as a way of increasing their perceived territory. Most animals (including humans, let’s face it) go along the ground from point A to point B, with little regard for the more raised-up elements that life provides. Cats, however, are creatures inclined towards inclines, and certainly have no qualms about taking the roads less travelled to get where they want to go – have you ever seen a cat cross a garden by walking on that path you made out of paving stones? Didn’t think so. Providing a little bit of the vertical into an otherwise horizontal life can really make all the difference.
The common complaint is that cat trees are one of the most expensive pieces a cat owner can purchase. The solution for some has been to buy second-hand. But this carries another set of risks. Second-hand trees will likely still smell of their previous owners, cats tend to rub against them to mark them, and may leave residual hair in the tree – not uncommon given how intimately cats use them! You might save yourself some money, only to find your cat won’t go near it – and is stressed out by this ‘foreign’-smelling object in their space.
Are cat trees worth it : final thoughts
But, a happy, healthy pet can’t be measured in price. So are cat trees worth it? Yes. A good cat tree provides a cat with ample space for scratching, a higher seat for them to the world, and a little bit of colour into their lives according to their personality. If you are expecting a constant, remarkable toy that will keep your cat entertained forever and ever, you would do well not to set your expectations too high. As any cat owner will know, cats are fickle playmates, they seem to know what the most expensive toys are, and then do their best to avoid them – perhaps finding more amusement in the packaging it came it. It seems that cats have a sixth sense for finding the amount of enjoyment inversely proportional to the amount spent.
Perhaps the best thing for anyone looking to get a cat tree is to keep it simple. Make sure it contains the necessary features that will keep your cat or cats satisfied (a scratching post at the very least, and a couple of levels), and anything else is a bonus dependent on how adventurous they are.