What is a cat tree?

A cat tree is an artificial structure for your cat to play, climb, exercise, rest and sleep on. There are many other terms for a cat tree and these include cat condo, cat tree house, kitty condo and cat stand.

There are many different styles of cat trees on the market. Many come in a more traditional form of a tiered structure typically covered in carpet. Some more modern cat tree products are now also available for those cat owners looking for more stylish, sophisticated and contemporary designs.

In addition to cat trees, you can buy wall mounted systems which are latest in cat furniture innovation. These systems offer your cat vertical space without taking up floor space. Clever!

Why do cats need a cat tree?

Cats use both horizontal and vertical aspects of their environment. Cats actually need vertical options in their territory as vertical spaces are a crucial part of feline life. A cat tree is an easy way to add vertical territory for your cat in their home environment that he or she can claim as her own. They provide vertical areas for your cat to explore with safety, comfort and for fun.

When you have two cats or more this vertical territory becomes even more important. The addition of a cat tree in your home could make the difference between a settled household and a feline battleground.

What is the difference between a cat tree and a cat condo?

A cat condo is a piece of furniture designed especially for your cat. The name is interchangeable with the term cat tree. Cat condos are tall and sturdy structures that create a safe environment where your cat can play, scratch, perch and sleep.

What does a typical cat tree include?

There are many types of cat trees to choose from. Some are what we would call traditional cat trees in structure. There are now many cat tree options that are contemporary in their design as well. We look to showcase all styles here at Cat Padz. Of course function should come before form when choosing a cat tree but we cannot deny that we are very excited by some of the new cat tree designs hitting the cat tree market. Most cat trees include:

  • A single perch or a number of perches – this will depend on the size of the cat tree. It is important for those cat trees to be up high 
  • A house or hideaway (large and/or small)
  • A scratching pole or poles
  • Play areas of some description which often include hanging toys
  • A number of platforms, ramps or ladders that join the cat tree levels together

Where should I put my cat tree?

Your feline loves to be a part of your family so it is important that you find a spot that your cat will find appealing and close to your family’s favourite hang outs in the house.

It can also be a good idea to watch your cat to see what areas of the house he or she likes best and consider putting the cat tree in one of those spots. Some cat trees can take up a lot of space in your room. Before you buy a cat tree have a think about the dimensions of each tree. Work out if the cat tree will fit easily in your chosen room otherwise your whole family might be watching TV from one of your cat’s perches as well!!

How can I “wobble test” a cat tree?

Imagine your cat leaping from the ground up to one of the higher perches of the cat tree. If there is even a tiny wobble your cat will not have any confidence using the cat tree. It is especially important to confirm weight limits for cat trees especially if you have a larger cat. The best way to shortlist brands is to check user reviews for their feedback on the “wobble” factor. A wobbly cat tree really means it will be a cat tree gathering dust! Your cat simply won’t use it.

I have more than one cat. Do I need more than one cat tree?

Nope. Not necessarily. When you have more than one cat in your home the addition of a cat tree increases the chances of your cats living in harmony as cats with a higher status can claim the highest perch! This can let the other cat or cats know who is the “king of the cats’ in your home. This means less confrontations and tense stand-offs.

A cat tree increases your cats’ territory because it provides them with an opportunity to find a safe space whilst maintaining any pecking order.

In saying that some cat trees don’t come with enough perches, houses or separate spaces for a multi-cat family. It is also important to make sure that the cat tree you choose in a multi-cay family has enough cat scratchers as yours cats will not share those.

Surely a cat tree is a little bit of an extravagance?

Not really. Cats need vertical space to explore in their home environment. If your current home set up doesn’t provide these opportunities your cat may start to display some fairly annoying habits like scratching your furniture, traversing shelves and surfaces you use for preparing food and more.

There are many benefits of a cat tree and if you take the time to purchase a very good quality cat tree, it will last a really long time. As well as being a safe space for your cat to perch, sleep and play, the cat tree serves as a really great scratching post. Many cat trees come with hammocks, fleecy lined and fabrics basket inserts that can be removed and washed.

Is it possible to make my own cat tree?

Absolutely! The humble cardboard box re-imagined can create a brilliant DIY cat tree. Sturdiness and stability are the key here though so make sure you consider the materials you are going to use very carefully. We look forward to bringing to you some great DIY Cat Tree options here at Cat Padz to create a haven your cat will love.

My cat is very timid. Will he or she use a cat tree?

Some cats are very timid. A cat tree provides a really safe place for your cat to feel secure. Look for a cat tree that has an elevated vertical perch because this means that your cat can see its environment really well and be aware of any “opponents” looking to attack. From an elevated position your timid cat will feel secure because he or she knows that they won’t be ambushed from behind.

For particularly timid cats (ie a cat that runs and hides under the bed when he or she is frightened), a cat tree that has an A-Frame bed is probably best. There are two benefits here:

  1. Your cat will be elevated
  2. Your cat will also be hidden

What is a cat tree made of?

The materials used to make cat trees varies depending on the manufacturer. See a list below of the typical materials used for different parts of the cat tree:

Structure – generally the structures themselves are made with wood, cardboard, mdf or plywood or pressword. Keep in mind that cat trees made with wooden posts will be heavier and may cost more to ship. Try to buy from a company that offers free delivery.

Scratching poles – the best cat trees have scratching poles that are covered with sisal. It is important that the sisal is well secured on the pole without any nails or screws that could come loose and cause harm to your cat.

Enclosures – many cat trees incorporate cat houses, cat hammocks, cat baskets and “hideouts”. Usually these elements of the cat tree are covered with faux fur that is nice and soft for your feline friend. Hammocks are often made with strong materials that can hold the weight of your cat.

In traditional cat trees, the rest of the cat tree is usually covered with carpet. Obviously better quality carpets will last longer so look for details about the carpet used before you buy a cat tree. Sometimes you have a choice of carpet colours but that is not always the case. Beige or tan is a very common colour for cat trees.

Fake forest leaves – there are a few cat trees on the market that incorporate fake leaves, which gives the effect of your cat being in an actual tree. Those fake forest leaves are usually made with silk.

Some cat trees are made with bare wood, sisal carpet, faux fur lined inserts in any cat house or basket that form part of the cat tree.

Toys – the materials that any toys are made of will vary from tree to tree. It is important to make sure that any toy included is attached to the cat tree securely. Any toy strings should be well adhered to the tree. Avoid toys that are adhered with nails or staples as these may cause harm to your cat if the string comes free. The length of the rope is also important. You need to make sure that your cat cannot get tangled in the string in any way which could cause harm.

Where carpet is the material used to cover the cat tree, you more have a choice in terms of colours which comes in handy when you are trying to find a cat tree to fit in with your overall house design and furnishing vision.

The inside lining of hideaways, houses, baskets and hammocks incorporated into your cat tree are usually made from fleece or faux fur.

Why is a scratching pole important for my cat?

Cats by nature need to sharpen their claws. This is an innate behaviour and your cat cannot be trained not to scratch. If you do not provide a scratch pole for your cat in your home, you may find that your most valuable furniture items become your cats’ favourite thing to scratch! Most cat trees incorporate scratch poles and many have more than one pole incorporated into their design. That gives your cat a wonderful, safe and enjoyable place for them to scratch away happily.

How old does my kitten need to be before I get a cat tree?

Your kitten can be introduced to a cat tree as soon as they come to your home. As part of your kitten’s familiarization process of your house, other pets and children, you may need to encourage your kitten to use the cat tree initially as they get used to their new domain. Some recommend spraying your cat tree with catnip or synthetic pheromones to encourage them to use it. In fact, a cat tree can become one of your kitten’s favourite safe places as you should teach your children and train other pets that the cat tree is a cat only domain. This creates a safe haven for your feline friends where they can play, scratch, climb, relax and sleep.

I don’t have room for a cat tree in my home. Help!

Do not worry. Not everyone has room for a 5 or 6 foot structure for their feline friends! There are other options to create vertical space in your home. A cat tree that attaches to the back of one of your doors may be a good solution. Wall systems are the latest innovation in cat furniture which both you and your cat will love.