Cat climbing frames-sometimes advertised as indoor trees, activity centres or scratching post towers-are products that you will be able to see offered for sale virtually anywhere that cat products are sold, including pet shops small and large, food retailers, online stores, and even some supermarkets.
More cat owners have one of some description-be that a simple scratching post attached to a soft board, or a six foot tall tower with multiple scratching posts, platforms and hidey holes. But are these cat climbing frames an essential for the thinking cat owner, or are they simply a sometimes expensive gimmick that we’re made to feel that we should have, while our cats are ambivalent?
In this article, we will attempt to answer this question. Read on to learn more.
Food, water, shelter and safety are all essentials for mammals of all types-but for a cat to be happy, there is much more to it! Today’s domestic cats evolve from wild cats in hot climates that hold the distinctive position of being both hunting animals that search for their own live food, and that might make for potential prey to larger animals themselves. This means that cats have several needs as well as their essentials to make them feel comfortable, safe and settled, such as places that they can hide in while still seeing out, and high panoramic viewpoints.
You may already be aware of this if your cat is the type that will try to climb the curtains, or likes to sit on top of the wardrobe or fridge! This may just seem like cats being their usual hard to understand selves, but there is more to it than just personal preference and being finicky-the ability to see without being seen, and keep an eye out across a wide area for predators are part of what makes a cat a cat.
Cats also need to be able to scratch in order to slough the dead outer layers off their claws, in order to keep them sharp and healthy. If you do not provide a scratching post or alternative for your cat (and if you’re unlucky, even if you do) they will look for an alternative, such as the legs of your furniture!
Additionally, cats tend to be territorial, and not like sharing their resources, such as beds, bowls and even litter trays, and if you have more than one cat, you will probably know that unless they are very close and like to sleep together, they each have their own favourite spaces.
So, do cat climbing frames add real value to your cat’s life, or are they pretty much unnecessary, and meet needs that are easily filled in other ways? The answer to this depends greatly on your living situation, your cat, and the layout of your home!
A tall cat climbing frame meets a lot of your cat’s needs all in one hit-they have a range of scratching posts available to them at different heights so that they can find the one that they like the best.
Additionally, tall frames allow your cat to pick a high up platform or bed from which they can keep their back against the wall for protection from perceived threats, while looking down on everything going on around them. A selection of hidey holes and beds in different places and of different sizes will allow cats with all preferences to pick the one they like, and can sleep in safely.
Finally, a lot of scratching places provide add-on toys for your cat to bat around and stay entertained with, and the climbing frame itself, last but not least, does actually provide your cat with fun exercise too, much as child’s climbing frame does.
All of these things combined mean that a tall climbing frame located in the right place and secured so that it is stable is likely to be valued by your cat-but is it essential?
Cat climbing frames are not essential per se, but they are popular among cats, and cover a lot of their needs all in one unit. If you do not have a climbing frame for your cat, this by no means means that their needs are not being met in this respect-just that they will look for alternatives in other areas of your home. For instance, they might sit on top of your freezer or wardrobe, and look for hidey holes and enclosed beds where they can feel safe and comfortable.
Additionally, scratching posts are essential for cats, and they also need to be able to climb and play!
Ultimately, a cat climbing frame is not a strict must-have; but if you do not have one, you should pay some mind to how you are ensuring you meet your cat’s needs without one.