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Shopping Guide for Best Cat Houses

Our furry friends are important members of our family, so of course we want to give them the best.

Whether they live entirely indoors or spend some of their day outside, cats love to have a secure and comfortable place to nap.

And though they stay under our roof, they love having a separate area to call their own.

It's no secret that cats are picky creatures, and that's part of why we love them.

But because they’re so finicky, you must consider your options carefully before buying them something new.

How do you pick out a cat house that your feline friend is going to love?

We've found the perfect kitty condos that your cat will adore — or at least use!

Most experts agree that cat houses, cat trees, and other types of cat furniture enrich the lives of cats by providing an important outlet for their instinctual behaviors.

At BestReviews, we examined hundreds of cat houses. We analyzed customer reviews and interviewed our resident pet expert, Arden Moore, in order to bring you the information you need to make a wise purchase.

If you’re ready to buy a house for your furry feline, please see the product matrix at the top of this page for descriptions of our favorite picks.

If you’d like to learn more about cat houses before investing in one, the shopping guide below will tell you all you need to know about picking the right house to suit your cat.

Arden Moore
EXPERT CONSULTANT

Arden is a pet behavior consultant and master certified pet first aid/CPR and safety instructor. Arden is the founder of Pet First Aid 4U.com, host of the Oh Behave Show on Pet Life Radio, the author of over 25 cat and dog books, and is a regular contributor to leading pet publications. She has provided dog behavior consulting for four $500,000 dream dog park projects and interviews leading veterinarians, business leaders, and ordinary people doing extraordinary things for pets.


Arden Moore  |  Pet Behavior Consultant

Why Buy a Cat House?

Cats will sleep anywhere — on the couch, on a pile of freshly laundered clothing, even on your laptop as you're trying to use it. So why should you buy your kitty a cat house to sleep in? Here are some compelling reasons:

  • Cats like to have a safe and secure place to rest. As Arden puts it, "Cats are both prey and predator. They do not like sleeping in the open where they are most vulnerable."

  • Houses that feature multiple levels provide cats, who are natural climbers, the chance to perch up high and survey their territory.

  • A cat house with built-in scratching surfaces helps keep claws trimmed and lets your kitty engage in her natural scratching behavior without ruining your furniture.

  • Outdoor cat houses provide shelter from the elements. This is especially important if you look after semi-feral cats who refuse to spend much (or any) time indoors.
EXPERT TIP

Cats spend a lot of time sleeping, so giving them a place to nap away from foot traffic can help them feel safer.


Arden Moore  | Pet Behavior Consultant

Cat House Types

Cat house types

Indoor

Designed for indoor use, these houses are often made of wood or plywood. Many are covered in carpet-like material to encourage scratching. An indoor house with a flat roof provides an additional place for your kitty to perch.

Cat house types

Outdoor

Outdoor cat houses are much like their indoor counterparts, but they're insulated and may have built-in heating. Most outdoor cat houses are waterproof, but you may come across some varieties that are not. These non-waterproof houses are presumably designed for placement under a porch or awning.

Cat house types

Tree

A cat tree is more than just a house. This type of cat furniture normally has several levels. Cat trees may feature a selection of platforms, ramps, toys, scratching posts, and holes to wiggle through. There may be an enclosed or open bed. A cat tree might be small with just a few levels. Or, it might be so big that it takes up the entire wall of a large room.

CAUTION

Some cat houses do not arrive fully assembled. Pay attention to the product’s specs if this is an issue for you.

Considerations

Considerations

Material

Cat houses come in all kinds of materials, including the following:

  • Plastic

  • Treated wood

  • Carpeted plywood

  • Plush fabric

  • Canvas

Outdoor cat houses are usually made of either plastic or treated wood. Indoor models could be made from a variety of materials.

If durability matters most to you, consider a cat house made of wood or plywood.

EXPERT TIP

Many cats like being elevated off the floor, so consider a sturdy cat tree or house that offers two or three levels.


Arden Moore  | Pet Behavior Consultant
Considerations

Size

Some cat houses are fairly compact and obviously designed for just one cat to inhabit at a time. Larger houses are designed for multiple cats to share. If you prefer the latter, we recommend that you look for a house with more than one entrance.

Be sure to examine the dimensions of a potential purchase and measure those figures against your available space. Some manufacturers offer you a choice between several different sizes.

Considerations

Style

To be frank, your cat probably won’t care much about the aesthetics of her new house. However, that doesn’t mean she won’t be picky. You might choose a lovely, tasteful cat house that perfectly matches your decor only to have your kitty completely snub it in favor of a cheap-looking fabric number.

You can find cat houses in numerous styles. There are basic plush models with pitched roofs (like little houses). There are fancy wooden houses that could easily pass for a high-end side table. Of course, you should pick a cat house that you like the look of — but be prepared to exchange it if your fur baby won’t go near it.

DID YOU KNOW?

What distinguishes a cat house from a cat bed? A cat house has a roof, four walls, and at least one entrance. A cat bed does not necessarily have any other extra features.

Considerations

Color

You'll find cat houses in a range of colors, so pick one that you like. That said, it’s our opinion that you shouldn't focus too much on style over substance. If the cat house you buy doesn’t appeal to your cat, you’ve wasted your money. And we all know that they’re fickle creatures.

Considerations

Extra Features

Some cat houses come with excellent extra features built into them, such as scratching posts and hanging toys for your kitty to paw at.

But buyer beware: some “extra features” might sound good at first, but here at BestReviews, we question them. For example, a house with a built-in litter tray must be kept scrupulously clean in order for kitty to continue accepting it. You’d have to be extremely diligent about keeping it clean, else your cat might turn up her nose at it.

EXPERT TIP

Some outdoor cat houses allow you to safely insert an electric heating pad during cold weather. The heating pad must be connected to a safe outdoor outlet that’s durable enough to resist clawing so as to prevent malfunction or even sparking a fire.


Arden Moore  | Pet Behavior Consultant

Price

Price

Cheap Cat Houses

A basic fabric cat house can cost as little as $10 or $15, but it won't be especially durable or provide any features or enrichment. It’s basically just a bed with walls.

Price

Mid-Range Cat Houses

You should be able to find a quality cat house or tree for somewhere around $80 to $100 — less if you're not worried about how attractive it looks.

Price

Expensive Cat Houses

A top-quality wooden indoor or outdoor cat house or a particularly large and elaborate cat tree could set you back several hundred dollars. Some of the most luxurious cat houses on the market cost $100+.

Indoor cat houses don’t need to withstand the elements. As such, you’ll find them in a wider range of materials, including plush fabric and canvas.

Staff
BestReviews

Expert Advice from Arden Moore

  • Cats have favorite substrates, or textures. Some like cat houses made of recycled plastic exteriors while others prefer materials made of wood.

  • Today’s consumers tend to support eco-friendly cat houses made of recycled materials.

  • Seek a sturdy, large cat house with multiple openings to accommodate two or more cats. Cats are the original time sharers. Cat A will typically snooze on one place in the morning and Cat B will claim that spot in the afternoon.

  • Choose a house that affords your cat the space to turn around comfortably while he’s inside. Also make sure the opening is the right size for him to enter and exit easily.

  • So-called bargain cat houses lack durability and fail to provide protection for outdoor cats during inclement weather. Seek a house made of durable, weatherproof materials.
Tree-style cat houses with multiple levels can be quite tall, even if they don’t take up much floor space.

FAQ

Q. Where should I place my cat house?

A. This is an important consideration, since improper placement of your cat house could result in your kitty snubbing it completely.

Arden offers some good advice on where to place your cat house:

"An indoor cat house should be placed away from foot traffic, in a corner or elevated area that allows the cat to survey her surroundings from a safe spot. An outdoor cat house should be positioned in a safe, secluded spot that prevents any surprise attacks by predators – or curious kids. Consider positioning an outdoor cat house against a wall, in the back corner of a fence, or near the entrance to the garage."

Q. Is there a way to encourage my cat to use his cat house?

A. Yes and no. While there are ways to gently suggest to your cat that he use his cat house, there's no way to make him do so if he's not interested. "Never force a cat to accept a cat house,” says Arden. “You can entice him by tossing in treats and providing cushiony bedding, but ultimately, it is the cat who will decide where he prefers to nap or sleep."

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