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All good cat parents want their feline friends to have healthy, happy lives, and a cat tree can help with both mental and physical stimulation.
With the pet product business booming, you can find hundreds of cat trees on the market, so finding the best one can become overwhelming. But never fear – we at BestReviews are here to help you cut through the jargon and find quality products that offer good value for your money.
To create our in-depth reviews, we test some products in our labs, consult experts, and gather feedback from existing customers, and do mountains of product research.
If you’re interested in learning how to pick the right cat tree for your furry companion, read on for our full guide to cat trees. Then, when you're ready to buy a cat tree, scroll up to our product matrix where you'll find our top five picks.
Cat trees aren't a gimmick designed to part animal-lovers from their hard-earned cash; they really are great for cats.
Here are some of the reasons why:
Cats are avid climbers and like to have “vertical” territory as well as horizontal space.
If your cat routinely scratches your furniture, a cat tree with built-in scratching posts may deter her (though we're not promising anything).
Cats often feel safer and more secure when in an elevated position. A cat tree can help minimize stress and give your kitty a haven in which to lounge and relax.
A cat tree can help keep your cat active. After all, it’s basically like a feline jungle gym.
If you have more than one cat, a cat tree may help solve territorial disputes over the best lookout spots. Your cats might have trouble sharing a window ledge peaceably, but most will share a large cat tree, as each kitty can perch on a different platform.
Many cats like cat trees with enclosed beds or dens. If you've ever seen how excited a feline can get over a simple cardboard box, you'll understand!
Below, we will examine some of the main varieties of cat trees, including the pros and cons of each.
Tall cat trees have multiple levels and platforms. Some even reach from floor to ceiling.
Plenty of space for multiple cats, promotes exercise, usually combines beds/platforms, may have cubby holes/scratching posts/toys for maximum enrichment.
Takes up a lot of space.
About $50 to $150, depending on size.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Go Pet Club 50W x 26L x 72H
Some cats prefer to ascend to high places; others prefer to crawl inside boxes and hide from the world. The Go Pet Club Cat Tree is designed to accommodate both behaviors. Standing nearly six feet tall when fully assembled, this tree features a number of levels for multiple cats. The product's detachable ladders may (or may not) appeal to younger cats, but they will certainly prove useful for aging cats. Two dangling cat toys come with the package, but additional toys could easily be attached to the particle board shelves.
Small cat trees tend to only have one or two levels, with a scratching post and possibly a dangling toy.
Compact, good for felines who shouldn't or can’t climb too high.
Not as enriching as taller cat trees.
Roughly $20 to $50.
If your cat destroys the sisal rope on her cat tree, it's possible to replace it yourself.
Modern cat trees have a more stylish look than traditional carpet or faux fur cat trees. Often, these cat trees are made of bare wood.
More aesthetically pleasing than traditional cat trees, more appealing to some cats, durable.
Cost more than traditional cat trees, no carpet (which some cats don’t like).
$50 to $60 for small models and $100 to $300 for large models.
If your cat seems to ignore her new cat tree at first, make sure it's located somewhere she usually hangs out and is as enticing as possible, with toys, plush cushions, and perhaps some well-placed treats.
Cat trees should have a range of lounging areas on which your feline friend can do some serious catnapping or surveyal of his surroundings.
These may take the form of flat platforms, beds with raised edges, cubby holes, or hammocks.
Some cat trees have a stylistic range of lounging areas that are perfect for a picky kitty.
Covered or enclosed lounging areas on a cat tree are sometimes referred to as "cat condos."
Check the product specifications of your chosen cat tree to find its height in inches. If you choose an especially tall cat tree and your home has low ceilings, measure your room from floor to ceiling to ensure the cat tree will fit. Of course, cat trees are designed to fit an average home, so this shouldn't be a problem if your ceilings are of a normal height.
A good cat tree should have several scratching posts. These posts should (hopefully) satisfy your cat's natural urge to sink her claws into things. On modern cat trees, you may find "scratching areas" – squares lined with sisal rope – rather than traditional scratching posts.
Faux fur covering for a cat tree is more resistant to scratching than carpet, which can end up looking ratty after a while.
Some cat trees have toys, such as fabric mice or plastic balls, hanging by strings. Only you know whether your cat goes wild for toys on strings or generally remains disinterested, so choose accordingly.
You probably have an idea in your head of what a cat tree looks like. Perhaps you picture a series of boxes and platforms covered in carpet or faux fur and attached to one another with a series of scratching post tubes. But this isn't the only style of cat tree out there. Some modern cat trees could be mistaken for shelving units if it weren’t for the cats sitting on them. This type of cat tree may suit people who are more particular about their décor.
Some cat trees are designed to save space in tight quarters. For example, there is a type of cat tree that fits in a doorway using a spring-loaded mechanism.
Is your cat uninterested in his new cat tree? Playing with him while he is on or near the tree can help pique his interest.
If you need to clean a carpeted or faux fur-covered cat tree, we recommend doing so with cat shampoo. Harsh cleaning solutions could be toxic, but a soap specifically designed for use on your kitty is a safer bet.
Make sure the openings in your chosen cat tree fit your fur baby. For example, if you choose a cat tree with a condo or cubby hole, it should be large enough for your cat to comfortably climb in and out.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Armarkat Cat Tree Furniture Condo
The use of faux fleece makes routine cleaning of the Armarkat B5701 much easier. A small brush or mini-vac may be enough to stay ahead of the fur and dander. Some owners suggest adding a small towel or pet blanket to the cubbyhole for additional comfort and easier maintenance.
Most cat trees require some assembly. Find out what tools you'll need to put the tree together, and gather them before you begin work.
Some cat tree manufacturers offer replacement parts in case a part of the tree – a toy or scratching post, for instance – gets worn out.
Consider the base dimensions of your chosen cat tree, as well as the height, to make sure you have enough room for it.
Stability matters. Make sure your chosen cat tree doesn't wobble. A tall cat tree should have a wide base so there's no chance of it tipping over.
Q. Where should I place my cat tree?
A. Situate your cat tree in a spot that your cat will find appealing. Otherwise, he'll be unlikely to use it. It should be in a room where he usually likes to spend time. If your cat likes to look out the window, consider placing his cat tree in a spot where he'll get a good view of the outside world. Likewise, if your cat is a fiend for warmth, he'd probably appreciate a cat tree placed near a radiator.
Q. What are cat trees made from?
A. Traditional cat trees are made from plywood and/or strong corrugated cardboard covered in either faux fur or sisal rope, which is wrapped around the scratching posts. Modern cat trees are normally made from solid wood, but they usually have areas with sisal rope to encourage scratching.
Q. Are there any cat trees designed with the older cat in mind?
A. While they're much rarer, you can find the odd cat tree designed for elderly felines. They tend to have just one or two levels, since some geriatric cats aren't as spry as they once were and could hurt themselves falling off the top of a tall cat tree. They also have ramps leading up to the platforms, as a senior cat may not be able to jump up unaided.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.