How to Choose the Purrfect Cat Tree

June 10, 2016

By Julia Williams

If you find the idea of buying cat furniture funny, chances are you don’t have a cat. That’s because most people who share their home with a cat discover early on that giving the kitty his own space is an essential component of peaceful co-existence.

A cat tree gives your feline friend a place to play, perch, nap, scratch and climb – usually all in one day! Doing those things makes the cat happy, which makes us happy too, and not just because we like enriching their life. A cat tree, you see, can go a long way toward ensuring that our own furniture is not shredded or covered in cat hair.

(Note: the terms cat tree, cat condo and cat tower all mean the same thing. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll just call them cat trees).

Here are some things to consider when deciding which cat tree is the purrfect one for your kitty.


Cat trees come in many different sizes and configurations, and serve multiple functions. A cat tree offers a comfy spot for lounging, and when placed in front of a window it’s a perfect perch for watching Bird TV. The top spot on a cat tree provides the high elevation that many cats love.

Cat trees are usually carpeted and have one or more scratching posts. Most offer multiple perches or places to sleep, such as cradles, hammocks or cat beds. Some have enclosed cubbies for your cat to hide in.

Your Cat’s Personality

The best cat tree for your kitty will depend on their age, size, climbing ability and activity level. A tall and/or large multi-level cat tree is ideal for a spry cat that loves to climb. Senior kitties who sleep a lot will appreciate a cat tree with easily accessible beds or cozy napping spots. For cats who feel more secure sleeping in an enclosed space, a cat tree with one or more cubbies is ideal. Some models have built-in hanging toys, which are great for playful kitties.

If you have more than one cat, it’s best to either have two cat trees or an extra large one that has multiple scratching posts and allows each cat to have their own sleeping spot.

Scratching Surfaces

Cats have different preferences for scratching. Some love to scratch on carpeted posts, while others prefer wood or sisal rope. If you don’t know which your cat prefers, choose a design that offers several options.


The cat tree needs to be sturdy enough so it doesn’t tip over when your kitty jumps or climbs on it. If it does fall over, your cat can get spooked and might not want to use it anymore. Study the design of the cat tree to determine if it was made for sturdiness or mainly for looks. You should be able to find a cat tree that offers both sturdiness and aesthetic appeal.

Other Considerations

Perches, platforms and ladders must be able to hold the weight of your cat. The holes of tunnels or cubbies should be large enough for your cat to fit through.

If you foresee moving, two cat trees or a modular style may be a better option than a behemoth floor-to-ceiling cat tree.

Note the materials used to make the cat tree. Solid oak will be sturdier and more attractive than particle board. A cat tree that is covered mainly with carpeting rather than faux fur will last longer.

Consider how the cat tree is held together. Screws are more secure than nails, and you can tighten them if they loosen after the cat tree has been through some use.

How Much Do Cat Trees Cost?

Cat tree prices are as wide-ranging as the pieces themselves. In general, a quality cat tree runs around $100 to $150 for small models, to $500 and up for a towering cat tree that offers several perches, tunnels and other sleeping spots.


You can buy pre-assembled cat trees at a pet store, but the selection is typically limited. A better option is to buy it online, which will require a bit of assembly. They aren’t that hard to put together – trust me, if I can do it, anyone can. Of course, the more elaborate the cat tree is, the more time it will take to assemble.

If you are handy with a hammer, it’s actually pretty easy to build a cat tree that looks good and is just as durable as one from a pet store, at a fraction of the cost. The internet is a great place to find DIY plans for constructing cat furniture.

Innovative Cat Furniture

Stackable-type cat trees are a nice option because you can start with one or two sections, and add more later to make it taller or wider. A stackable cat tree is also easier to move around, and offers more creative design options than one big cat tree.

No matter which style of cat tree you decide to get, it’s sure to provide your kitty with hours of napping, playing and scratching fun!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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