Choosing the right cat tree is an important step in ensuring your cats are happy, healthy, and safe. To choose the right cat tree you need to take into consideration factors such as price range, size, where you would like to keep it, how tall it should be, and what materials it is built of.
And, of course, you need to carefully observe your cat’s personality and preferences. Skipping this step may just leave you stuck with a cat tree and a cat that would much rather sit in a cardboard box.
So in this post, we’re going to give you pointers on how to build your cat’s profile and match it to the perfect cat tree that will satisfy your rascal’s wildest dreams.
Additionally, we’ll go over the best materials to choose for a cat tree that are safe and non-toxic for your kitty and will also keep your cat’s claws in top condition. Plus, we’ll focus on materials you need to avoid if you don’t want your cat to get into the habit of scratching every piece of furniture in your house.
Disclaimer: all of this vast knowledge on choosing the right cat tree is brought to you by extensive research coupled with housing two cats with wildly different personalities.
So let’s proceed.
Why does your cat need the best cat tree?
Some people may be on the fence about getting a cat tower. After all, not only can it be a significant investment, it can also take up a significant amount of space in the living room.
However, your cat does indeed need a cat tree. Here’s why.
Cats are natural climbers
Cats love climbing and exploring. It’s in their nature. They just need to sink their claws and traverse new heights. So unless you are okay with your cat climbing the curtains or storming the fridge, getting your furry Magellan a tall cat tree can quell their explorative urges.
Every cat loves scratching
Same as with climbing, cats need to scratch.
This not only keeps their claws healthy but also helps them express their emotions, mark territory, and stretch. Which, once again, unless you are okay with them desecrating your beloved office chair (speaking from experience), the best cat tree would include tons of scratching posts and mats.
A feline need for privacy
Sometimes cats need their alone time.
A cat condo is perfect for hiding, napping, and recharging. Most modern cat trees do have at least one cat condo and it is a much better alternative to a floor-bound cat bed.
First, the fact that a cat condo sits higher in the air means your cat has a better vantage point to observe its surroundings. And second, is the combination of a cat condo with a cat tree means that your floor space remains less cluttered.
The best cat trees have a multipurpose design
Cat owners should perceive a cat tree as a multipurpose living space for their cats.
It’s their bedroom, where a cat can hide, nap, and recharge (both emotionally and physically). It’s their gym where cats get to climb, jump, scratch, and let their instinctual urges out. And finally, it’s their rec room where, with the best cat tree, they get to play with interactive toys and work on their hunting instincts.
A space-saving investment
As you can see a modern cat tree packs a lot of entertainment value into one compact vertical space.
Instead of cluttering your floor space with multiple scratching posts, toys, and cat beds, you can get all of that in most cat trees. Not that I’m saying you can’t spoil your cat rotten with their own toys anyway.
Helps protect your furniture
Giving your cat an outlet for their scratching and climbing needs in the form of a well-chosen cat tree can dissuade the furry monster from targeting your furniture. While not the only step you’ll need to take to teach your cat out of scratching the furniture, it’s a pretty fundamental one.
Things to consider when choosing the best cat tree
Cats are notoriously known for ignoring the nice cat furniture you buy them. I have 2 cats and 3 beautiful cat beds and the furry monsters still would much rather lounge in a cardboard box.
So your task is simple: build your cat’s profile.
Yes, that’s right. We’re going to take a good look at your furry friend, his likes, dislikes, traits, and how your cat interacts with your own space.
This way you can use this information to choose the best cat tree your kitty can have and one that will properly satisfy his needs.
Age-wise, choosing a cat tree is pretty easy for both older cats and kittens. Both need cat trees with ample ramps and with a relatively low entry point.
For an older cat, it is because the older he gets the more jumping strains their joints, which doesn’t mix well with high perches.
For kittens, a smaller cat tree or the one with ramps can prevent them from accidentally falling since their coordination is not fully developed yet.
If your cat is an avid jumper, be on the lookout for wooden cat trees with a solid base – these should remain sturdy even when tackled by an energetic cat.
This is not to say that if your cat is lazy, you can skimp on the tree’s quality. But with a wild kitty on the house, you’ll need to make sure that the cat tree is up to the challenge.
Do they like high places?
Despite the common assumption that most cats love high places, every cat has its own threshold.
For example, one of my cats, Cassie, likes to stay close to the ground venturing into high places only for exploration and not to lounge. On the other hand, Kevin, my younger cat, absolutely loves sleeping high up and if he could scale the fridge like a mountain climber he absolutely would.
All of this to say is getting a super high cat tree just for your cat to ignore 2/3 of it is a waste, especially in small spaces. So keep an eye on your cat’s preferences.
A need for a hiding space?
If your cat frequently hides for naps, he or she will be a huge fan of cat condos.
This is not to say that a cat that sleeps out in the open wouldn’t appreciate a condo, but it might be a bit underused.
Additionally, a cat that has been recently adopted will certainly appreciate a cat condo where it can hide and feel safe. (The matter with cat condos is a bit different in a household with multiple cats but we’ll touch upon that later)
Which way do they scratch?
While we’ve established that scratching is important, not all cats scratch the same way. Some cats prefer to scratch horizontally, while others mainly scratch vertically. What is your cat’s stance?
The best way to tackle this dilemma would be to get a cat tree with both types of scratching posts. Alternatively, you can get your cat a horizontal scratching post since most cat trees have built-in vertical ones.
Soft or hard surface preference?
Does your cat prefer to nap on hard surfaces or does it actively seek out piles of blankets?
If it’s the former then a cat tree with soft cat beds and hammocks might not spark any interest in your cat.
Carefully observe how your cat behaves in regard to different surfaces and keep this knowledge in mind when looking for a new cat tree.
How to choose a cat tree
Now you have your cat’s preferences mapped out, it is time to start your search for the best cat trees on the market.
This will not be a cat tree buying guide, but we will give you the most information on what to look for or to be on the lookout for.
Cat tree size
First, consider how many cats you have. I know, duh.
Tall cat trees can easily accommodate multiple cats as they tend to have more perches and condos.
Speaking of condos. While we all wish our cats would behave like best friends from heartfelt cat videos, the reality looks different. Cats fight. Or at least they like pushing each other’s buttons.
All of this is to say that with a condo, one of your cats can trap your other cat inside. This is less than desirable so to avoid tension look for a larger cat tree with condos that have two exits.
The other thing to consider is your cat’s size. If you have a Maine Coon or a Ragdoll, some cat trees just won’t be large enough to accommodate them, both in terms of perch sizes as well as stability-wise.
With this problem of kitties that are too big for their own good, you can either pay close attention to the dimensions of cat trees or focus on a brand that specializes in cat furniture for large cats.
Last but not least, it is important to keep in mind that cats age and grow. So while it is important to match a cat tree to your cat’s abilities (as we’ve said before, kittens usually don’t have full control of their body yet), making a significant investment into a small cat tree just for your cat to grow out of it might not be a great idea.
To sum it all up…
Assess your cat’s size, google how big your cat might get, and pay careful attention to your future cat tree’s dimensions. If needed, look for extra-large cat trees (this and this brand are the way to go). Finally, if you have multiple cats, ensure that the cat tree’s condos have multiple escape routes.
Cat tree materials
Most cat trees you’ll encounter on your search will be made of either faux fur, faux fleece, or carpet.
All of these are pretty common and viable choices (although we will touch upon the carpet issue in a second).
However, it is important to note that some modern cat trees have started incorporating other materials to make cat trees more palatable for design-conscious homeowners. Due to this, you’ll see some laminated wooden cat trees that look absolutely gorgeous with their mid-century aesthetic. And while they do have detachable pads to give your cats some grip, it is important to keep in mind that your cat might slip or have nothing to sink their claws in during rough play.
Stay away from carpet
The best cat trees will feature at least a few scratching posts to keep your cat entertained. However, a scratching post can be made of sisal rope, sisal fabric, and carpet and all of these materials have their pros and cons. Except for carpet which only has the cons.
Carpet doesn’t shred when your cat scratches at it and instead catches on their claws and pulls their toes which is not a pleasant experience.
Additionally, there should be a clear, palpable divide between the things your cat is allowed and not allowed to scratch. A carpet-clad scratching post might be too similar to other furniture in your household which will only confuse your cat.
The best scratching surface
As for sisal fabric and sisal rope – both are viable options.
The only caveat is that as sisal rope gets more and more used it will start to shred causing sharp fibers to stick out. This means that such scratching posts will need to be changed from time to time.
Sisal fabric, on other hand, gets softer the more it is scratched providing your cat with an overall more pleasant experience.
Wood & PVC
If you’re looking for a cat tree for larger cats, it is important to ensure that it is sturdy and can withstand both your cat’s weight and the force of their jump.
The best cat tree for this would be one made of wood. A second but still solid choice is a cat tree made of PVC.
Also, when looking for the best cat trees on the market keep an eye out for the NAUF (No Added Urea Formaldehyde) symbol. This signifies that the bonding agent used in the construction of the cat tree is formaldehyde-free and therefore non-toxic to your kitty.
Best cat trees styles
Don’t be afraid to mix and match your room decor with the cat tree. A good cat tree should blend in nicely even if you’re not a fan of this type of furniture.
Fortunately, there are many companies out there that specialize in making the best cat trees that are also easy on the eyes.
Here are just a few:
PetPals build beautiful cat trees that hit the visual balance of solid wood, sisal, and plush right on the nail. So while their creations have every component of the best cat trees, from tall scratching posts to built-in toys, they don’t look tacky or overbearing.
Their wide selection of products, including the adorable small cat trees shown below, ensures that both you and your kitty will be satisfied.
Cat trees from Mau Pets steer away from the clean and polished aesthetic of modern cat trees and it works. With the driftwood-like posts wrapped in sisal rope and faux fur cushions, most cats will look like woodland creatures all cozied up in there.
Whether you want a taller cat tree for more than two cats or something more down to earth, we genuinely recommend checking out their selection.
Playtime Workshop not only has a wide selection of handmade cat trees but also offers customization of said cat trees. For example, if your cat needs more space or you’d like to add more cat condos or several platforms for your feline friend, it can be arranged.
Their catalog follows the more classic beauty standards of cat trees but with a medieval twist. Bet your cat will love lounging in a tall cat tree that looks like a castle.
If you live in a household with multiple cats and can’t quite find a large cat tree to satisfy them, how about this?
CatastrophiCreations make a huge variety of wall-mounted pet furniture, from perches with toys to climb posts and cat condos to bridges. With it, you can pick and choose exactly what your cat needs and build a feline jungle gym on the wall.
The best cat trees are the ones that suit your cat’s personality. And who knows your cat better than yourself? So you can build one of the most unique cat trees that suits your cat and beautifully blends in with your decor.
So, what’s the verdict? Is a cat tree worth it? In short, yes. A cat tree is an investment that can keep your kitty happy and healthy for years to come. It will also help them take out their scratching and destructive urges on something that’s not a beloved piece of antique furniture.
Now that you know all about the different materials cat trees can be made of and how to assess your cat’s habits, it’s time to take action.
We’ll be definitely making our own selection of the best cat trees for different kinds of cats.
But for now, let us know in the comments what kind of cat you have. We love hearing stories about furry rascals.