By Teri Olcott
A cat makes a great pet for anyone living in a small apartment. Cats are fairly adaptable to their space as long as their basic needs are met. In the wild, cats like to climb to avoid predators, be on the lookout for prey, and to have a good view of what is going on around them. When living in captivity, it’s important that cats still have places where they can satisfy their instinctual urge to climb. A cat tree is a great way to keep your cat happy and healthy. Not only will they feel safe and secure, but climbing up and down the tree provides exercise and the opportunity to stretch. In a small apartment, finding room for a cat tree can be a bit of a challenge. A cat tree may also clash with your décor. This guide will help you find the best space-saving cat tree for your home.
1. Go Vertical
If you have more than one cat, providing vertical territory can mean the difference between harmony and horror. The relationships between cats can be complex, and allowing a dominant cat to display its higher status by claiming the top perch on the tree will prevent your home from becoming a feline battleground. When choosing a tree, make sure it has lots of perches at different levels and enough space for cats to claim their territory without infringement. For a single cat, vertical space is still important because it gives them the opportunity to move about and see their world from different perspectives. Tall trees are better than wide trees because tall trees take up less space and don’t get in the way as much as a wide tree can. Be sure to measure the base of the tree to make sure you have room for it in the spot you want to put it.
2. Pick an Interesting Style
Cat trees come in many styles. Some have perches, shelves, little houses or “condos,” bowls, hammocks, ladders, and ramps. They can be made of wood or cardboard with sections covered in rope, carpeting, or just exposed wood. Cats are curious animals and like to explore. You can always hang furry mice or other objects from the tree for your cat to bat at. The more your tree has to offer, the more likely your cat is to use it and enjoy it. Think of the tree as designer cat furniture. Would your cat want to show it off to all his friends?
3. Make Sure the Tree Complements Your Existing Décor
A tall cat tree in a small apartment is going to be noticeable. Make sure you choose one that you’re happy with as well. It’s no good if your cat tree makes Fluffy happy but you think it’s an eyesore. Kitty condos range from simple to elaborate. Most are brown or light-colored. Some are covered with animal print fabric. Choose a good location for the cat tree that’s beneficial to you and your cat. Cats like to look out windows and see what is going on. If you want the cat tree to be the focal point of the room, choose a style and color that goes well with other furniture in the room. There are some cat trees that look like, well, trees. If you don’t mind the look of fake plants and would like to keep your cat tree more camouflaged, a cat tree “tree” features perches for your cats to lounge on behind the cover of synthetic leaves.
4. Pick a Durable Cat Tree
Cats are active and like to jump and climb. Make sure the base of the cat tree is sturdy enough to support the structure and the weight or your cat or cats when they are at the very top. A cat tree with many platforms and structures can carry a high price tag, but one that’s well-built should last for the lifetime of your cat. Avoid tall cat trees that have a lot of cardboard or appear to be poorly made and wobble. Cats also like the scratch. The cat tree should have support posts that are made for scratching. This will hopefully prevent your cat from using your furniture as a scratching post. Cats can do a lot of damage and will tear up cat trees that are mostly cardboard. High-quality cat trees are usually made from wood or wood products, and they’re pretty heavy.
5. Consider Your Feline’s Feelings
Before you buy an elaborate kitty condo, castle, or mansion, consider the needs of your cat. Just like people, a cat’s abilities and interests change as they age. Kittens have lots of energy and like to climb and scamper about. They also tend to be a bit clumsy and could easily fall from a high platform and injure themselves. Older cats will appreciate a tree with wide platforms where they can sleep without their legs dangling over the edges. Heavier cats may not be able to jump as high as lighter cats and may not be able to squeeze through narrow spaces. Timid cats might prefer places to hide over open platforms. Look for a cat tree that will appeal to both you and your cat.
A cat tree might seem like an expensive purchase, but a well-constructed one will last for many years and many cats. Cats get bored easily, and a bored cat can be a destructive cat. Not only is a cat tree an excellent place for your cat to climb, play, and sleep, but the support posts also pull double-duty as scratching posts, thereby eliminating the need to purchase yet another cat accessory. Choose a cat tree that’s visually pleasing and appropriate for your space and your cat. Then sit back and watch your cat enjoy his new cat furniture.
Images used with permission, courtesy of www.shutterstock.com