Last updated: September 5, 2021

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Play is an important part of every cat's life. They need to play to be happy, lower adrenaline levels and, of course, for exercise to stay in shape. Sitting around the house all day can be monotonous, so it's very important that house cats have something to encourage them to get moving. That's why a cat tree may be just the right gift for your beloved pet.

The cat tree—or cat scratching post—that you pick to buy should suit the needs of your cat, and also fit with your home decor. This guide will help you to learn about the best scratching posts available. We'll also review the most common questions and answers from cat owners trying to decide between the many different options.




Key Facts

  • Cats need something to scratch in order to maintain their sharp claws. They also need to play to lower their adrenaline. And they certainly require many hours of sleep. A scratching post is great for all of these things.
  • There is a wide range of cat tree sizes, designs and prices available on the market, so you should be able to find something that's just right for you and your cat.
  • Your cat will instantly love their new scratching post and will waste no time exploring the different activities it offers.

Our Selection: The Best Cat Trees

We've gathered the five best cat trees on the  market. We'll review the primary features of each one, so that you can get to know them more easily. This way you can pick out a scratching post that both you and your cat will love.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Cat Trees

Before purchasing a cat tree for your cat, it's important that you take your pet's unique personality into account. This will help you to pick out the model that will suit your cat best. Scratching posts for cats come in many different designs and offer a range of activities. In this section, we answer the most frequently asked questions from those looking to purchase a new cat tree.

If your cat gets used to scratching a cat tree, it will leave your precious couch and chairs alone.
(Source: Anurak Ponapatimet: 61507277/ 123rf.com)

What Should I Do If My Cat Doesn't Seem Interested in the Cat Tree I Bought?

In some cases, cats may not immediately take to a new scratching post in the home. If this is the case with you, don't worry. Cats love to play, but they can be a bit skeptical of new objects in their home environment. Use a few easy tricks to introduce your cat to their new cat tree.

One thing you can do is put some of your cat's favorite toys or blankets on the cat tree, so that it begins to smell familiar. You can also try placing some cat treats on the post, which will reinforce a positive association. If your cat is very playful, try luring your cat over with a toy or by using the various attachments on your tree, if there are any.

Why Is the Scratching Surface of My Cat Tree Useful?

As the name suggests, scratching posts are mainly used by cats for scratching. Regardless of the design, all cat posts or trees have some sort of scratching surface. The most frequently used material for cat trees is sisal rope, which is something that cats enjoy using to maintain their precious claws. Scratching helps to get rid of old layers that form over time on cats' claws.

Claws are essential to cats, of course. They're used for playing and for stretching, which is very important for the health of joints, muscles and bones. A scratching post will also benefit you as the cat owner! If your cat has something that it likes to scratch, it should stay away from your other furniture.

How Does a Scratching Post Prevent Cat Obesity?

A cat that spends the whole day inside can get very bored. Cats sleep between 12 to 16 hours every day, but for optimum health, they should still be active the rest of the time. Cats are hunters by nature, and being in a house without much to do can result in them becoming lethargic.

A cat that doesn't move around can also become obese. A scratching post provides a number of things that can encourage your cat to be more active. It allows them to jump, play with hanging toys and climb ropes. These activities will offer your house cat more exercise and get them in better shape.

Toys on scratching posts often contain catnip.
(Source: Oksana Kuzmina: 74446303/ 123rf.com)

What Happens When a Cat Is Overweight?

Cats that don't exercise enough can quickly become obese and develop associated health issues. For example, obesity can result in chronic illnesses like diabetes or various kinds of liver problems. So it's very important to find something to keep your cat active at home. The best way is certainly with a scratching post.

Overweight cats have a greater risk of facing arthritis, due to the strain of the excess weight on their joints. Vets recommend not only controlling food intake, but also being sure that your cat is active, even if it never goes outside.

What Are the Benefits of a Cat Tree?

Besides being a great way to prevent cat obesity, a scratching post will help your cat unwind. If your cat is constantly left inside without anything to do, it might develop an aggressive personality or get depressed. It's important to remember that cats are hunters by nature.

A cat left in the house without stimulation can get very distressed. If you don't provide your cat with toys, it might start to attack your things or even your legs. The additional scratching surface of the cat tree is also important, not only for the well-being of your cat, but also for your cat to use to sharpen its claws, rather than on couches and chairs.

Should I Consider the Number of Cats in My House When Picking a Cat Tree?

You should be sure to think about how many cats will be using a cat tree before you buy one. Experts suggest that those with several cats at home should offer their pets a handful of places where they can hang out and relax. Every cat in a home should have their own bed.

Sometimes cats will fight over a toy if they want to play with it at the same time. That's why it is crucial that the cat tree you buy is big enough for all of your cats to use at the same time. Sometimes animosity can emerge between cats, and we certainly don't want that!

Where Should I Put My Cat Tree?

You should put your cat tree in a place where your cat enjoys spending time. It should also be somewhere that isn't inconvenient for you—you don't want it to create a disturbance. And avoid putting it near anything of significant value or that might break easily.

If you have very large cats, you may want to fasten the cat tree to the wall and floor, so that it doesn't fall over when they're using it. If your cat enjoys looking out the window, you could put the post near one. This way they can lie down and relax while also keeping an eye on the world outside.

What If My Cat Stops Using the Cat Tree?

Did your cat stop playing with a scratching post it used to love? There are a few reasons why this may have happened. Maybe the post got dirty. Keep in mind that cats are very clean and neat, and like their things to be the same way. Another reason might be that your cat is nervous because the scratching post is unstable.

If your cat has ever fallen from the cat tree, it may have developed a fear of it. That's why you should think about nailing it down, so it doesn't move as easily.

Sigmund FreudPsychoanalyst
"Time spent with cats is never wasted."

What Is Catnip and Why Do Some Cat Trees Have It?

It's very common to find catnip in cat toys. Catnip comes from the mint family of plants and contains a natural oil called nepetalactone in its leaves. It has been shown to produce different types of reactions in cats, mostly causing some sort of stimulation. Catnip has a less significant effect on kittens than on older cats.

Although it may seem like catnip is a drug for cats, experts insist that it doesn't harm animals. In fact, it's good for them because it makes them more motivated to play and be active while inside. Many scratching posts contain catnip as a method of attracting cats.

Shopping Criteria

When purchasing a cat tree, it is crucial that you make an informed decision and find one that suits your needs as well as those of your cat. In this section, we give you an overview of the most important factors you need to keep in mind. Here are five things to remember when making your decision:

Features

The scratching post that you purchase for your cat may come with a handful of different features. Usually, the more features they offer, the larger they are. There are several basic items found with the majority of cat trees:

Features of the cat tree What it offers Benefits
Scratching surface Cats need to maintain their claws and a scratching surface is the ideal tool. It also allows them to mark their territory and stretch Your cat can get rid of old layers from their claws with the scratching surface. Cat owners will notice that their cat stops scratching furniture
Hanging Toys Play and hunt Cats can reduce their adrenaline thanks to these hanging toys that move around
Cubbies and hiding places Stretch out and relax For nervous cats, these places offer a place that is safe and secure. They can also be somewhere to play and hide, something cats love to do
Platform Relax and play Lots of cats enjoy being in a high spot.These platforms allow cats to rest in a high place, or give them a place to hangout and observe what's going on around them
Hammock Relax and sleep Many scratching posts are designed so that cats can sleep on them. Hammocks give cats somewhere to sleep up high
Ropes Play and climb Ropes give your cat a chance to use their claws, and they can also be used for exercise.

Materials

The materials used to make cat trees vary. Here we take a close look at the most commonly used materials for scratching posts:

  • Sisal. Both the scratching surfaces and the ropes found on some models are made from natural sisal. This fiber is found in agave, which is a plant often found in Mexico. This plant doesn't cause any allergic reactions in animals, so it is safe for your cat.
  • Terrycloth. This material is commonly used to cover the platforms on a scratching post. It is mostly made from cotton, is absorbent and soft. It will produce heat when it comes into contact with your cat.
  • Velvet. Scratching posts often incorporate velvet into the spots where you cat might sleep. It is very soft and comfortable to rest on.
  • MDF. Medium Density Fiberboard is covered with fabric and used to form the different platforms of the cat tree. MDF is made from wood fibers that are pressure bonded with synthetic resins to form a smooth surface.

Height

Besides offering different features, cat trees also come in a range of heights and in many different shapes and sizes. Some are several feet tall or just a few inches. You should think about your cat's personality and the space you have available for a post.

If your cat is young and playful, be sure their scratching post is at least a few feet tall. Some taller models can even be hung from the wall or nailed down. If your cat is older or doesn't like to jump around very much, they may prefer a model that is lower to the ground. A cat that is more timid may also prefer something smaller.

Extras

Although all cat trees share some features, there are special functions you can look for. For example, if your cat likes to sleep in high places, look for a cat tree that has a hammock or a high platform where they can relax. If your cat is very playful, look for one that has a bunch of toys attached to it.

If you have a cat that likes to scratch their claws, look for a scratching post that has multiple places for scratching. If they enjoy playing hide and seek, or if they like to curl up in tight spots, find one that comes with a cubby.

Feedback From Buyers

Always be sure to look at reviews from other buyers when you're picking out a cat tree. Review comments that focus on the experience of cats like yours. For example, if you have a large cat, look for a comment from someone with a large cat.

Online stores and social media will be very helpful in this regard. Don't focus only on the ranking given to a product, but look at any technical information that might be mentioned. Other buyers leave reviews to help guide you toward the right choice.

Summary

Cats that live in cities usually spend most of their time inside, which can leave them feeling lethargic. They can become bored, develop bad habits and negative personality traits, lose motivation or get fat. That's why it's so crucial that you provide things your cat loves and that keep them active. So a cat tree is the perfect gift for your cat.

Scratching posts offer countless benefits. They come with many different features, so you can find one that fits your cat's personality. Your furniture will also be safe, now that your pet has somewhere else to scratch their pointy claws.

(Source of featured image: Dvořák: 121474014/ 123rf.com)

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