If you’re looking for a way to keep Kitty active and engaged, one of today’s increasingly-imaginative cat trees or condos might be just the ticket.
Cats need to stay active to be happy and healthy. A cat tree or condo is an ideal way to provide your kitty with opportunities for healthy physical exercise, mental stimulation and play. Today’s models are increasingly elaborate, as well as decorative. Let’s take a look at what’s out there, and how to choose the right cat tree or condo for your own feline friend.
The benefits are multi-faceted
Cat trees and condos aren’t just for jumping and climbing. They also satisfy other feline instincts. “A tree or condo allows your cat to be up higher, which gives him a feeling of safety,” says Scott Russman of C & D Pet Products LLC.
Shelley DelRocco of Pet Tree Houses concurs. “We came up with the acronym P.E.T. – a cat is a Predator, Explorer, and Threat assessor. The tree represents and satisfies many basic needs tied to those character traits. As a Predator, the cat uses it to seek prey and survey his domain. As an Explorer, he uses it to look for new vantage points. And as a Threat assessor, he uses it as a place to retreat to and defend himself if needed.”
A cat tree or condo also gives your kitty someplace to sharpen his claws besides your furniture. And since most products feature perches and platforms, or even cubbyholes and hammocks, the tree becomes a secure and comfy spot for him to snooze when he’s finished playing.
Shopping for a cat tree
Before you buy a cat tree or condo, be sure it’s going to meet your cat’s needs.
- Consider what your cat enjoys doing most. “Some cats prefer to cocoon versus jumping to high places, so in those cases it might be better to choose a cat condo with an enclosed space like a tube, where the cat can feel secure,” says Mario Arbore of Square Paws. “Cats that are agile and like to jump on counters are more likely to take to a cat tree with height.”
- Also factor in how many cats you have. “The holding weight tells you how many cats the tree can safely hold,” says Andrea Krantz of Armarkat. “The first priority is safety, and too many cats on a tree engineered for less weight could quickly become a danger.” The more cats you have, the bigger the tree or condo should be. “Count the perches, hammocks and baskets, and make sure there is adequate access for each cat,” Andrea advises.
- Durability and stability are very important. Because cats like to jump, the tree needs to have a low center of gravity and a solid base. “It should not rock back and forth to the touch,” Andrea adds. Both she and Scott recommend a product made from wood. “The use of solid wood and plywood rather than particle board, cardboard or plastic will greatly extend the life of the tree,” Scott says. It’ll be more expensive, but it’ll last a lot longer than a cheap product.
- Depending on the company, cat trees and condos may be upholstered with carpeting or sisal. “Look for higher grade carpet,” Scott says. Other materials include cozy faux fleece and faux fur, a feature of Armarkat’s trees and condos, while Pet Tree Houses incorporates real trees branches along with carpeted platforms into their products, leaving the bark on wherever possible to provide natural scratching surfaces.
Ensuring your cat uses his new tree or condo
The cost of a quality cat tree or condo can run into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on size and complexity. So you want to make sure your kitty is going to use it. Usually, this isn’t a problem, as long as you locate it in a spot he likes, such as near a favorite window, or in the corner of a room you and your family use often.
Shelley adds that the more complex the condo or tree, the more likely your cat will use it. “The cat is an explorer, and may quickly become bored,” she says. Look for a product with lots of intriguing features, such as cubbyholes, hammocks, ramps and tunnels as well as perches and platforms at different levels.
What if, despite your best efforts, your cat is still ignoring his tree? “Very often people get frustrated that their cat isn’t using the condo they’ve spent a lot of money on,” Mario says. “I always tell them to try rotating it, or relocating it to a different place. A cat’s natural curiosity will beckon him to check it out in its new spot. “
Given today’s choices in cat condos, you’re sure to find the right fit for your feline!
Where to shop for Cat Trees and Condos
C & D Pet Products LLC, cdpets.com
Pet Tree Houses, pettreehouses.com
Square Paws, squarepaws.com
Ann Brightman is Managing Editor for Animal Wellness Magazine and Integrative Veterinary Care Journal. A lifelong animal lover, she has also been a writer and editor for over 25 years. Ann is a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada and is also a Tai Chi instructor.