Cat owners are faced with a bewildering array of product choices. These include quality food, litter boxes, cat litter, food and water bowls, cat toys and a collar with tags. Owners who start shopping with eager, excited expressions quickly develop a bit of sticker shock as the dollars add up. Include a scratching post and veterinary costs and small wonder why some owners balk or at least question why they need to spend $70-$125+ on a cat tree.
Aside from cost, there is also the issue of size. Cat trees can take up a lot of space. Not every owner is keen on devoting a room for one or incorporating a tree into their home. For some, cat trees fall under the heading of extravagance, not necessity.
Yet cat trees are vitally important for cats living in our homes. In their natural habitats, cats don’t just live on the ground. They are constantly climbing to hunt, spot prey and avoid danger. Purchasing a cat tree allows owners to increase what author and renowned cat behavior expert Pam Johnson-Bennett calls “vertical territory.” Being able to access vertical territory is important to a feline’s emotional well-being.
Aside from assisting with emotional stability, cat trees are very helpful in homes with multiple cats and/or cat/dog combinations. Not only do the trees give kitty a place to go that a dog can’t follow, but again, according to Pam Johnson-Bennett, a cat tree in the home helps increase the likelihood of cats “living in harmony because cats of higher status can claim the highest perch.” This becomes very relevant when owners have cats that don’t have enough space to get along without tension. Tension—or rather, unrelieved tension—can cause a whole host of undesirable behavior, and while no product is a cure-all, a cat tree can be very helpful in some cases.
This product is also great for shy or timid cats. Instead of them hiding under beds, a tree allows cats a sanctuary high enough to be able to see more of their surroundings and feel greater security knowing they are less likely to be ambushed.
Cat trees are also good exercise tools, as cats who frequently climb them get the benefit of physical activity. They can also double as scratching posts, as many can be purchased with sisal on the support beams. What’s more, a sturdy, quality cat tree can last for many years. For all of these reasons cat trees are a vital and important purchase.
So which trees are best? That depends. Encourage owners to match their tree to their cats’ size. Large kitties aren’t usually comfortable lying on small perches, so owners should choose a tree with perches to match the size of their cats. Also suggest some perches be U-shaped, as this configuration helps the cat feel less vulnerable to rear ambush. When suggesting a tree, sturdiness is critical. Loose, wobbly trees will quickly become problematic, as cats don’t typically like to jump and lie on unstable items. A wide base and quality materials with enough height to allow the cat a real sanctuary can make this product one of the most important ones a cat owner can make.
Next, be prepared to remind owners about the importance of properly locating their tree. Placing one near windows is often a great choice; this allows the cat to watch activities both in and outside. Placement really depends on the cat’s preference. Select a location the cat likes to spend time in. Owners can also encourage cats to explore the tree by strategic placement of catnip near the base or on lower perches. Another way to get slightly skeptical kitties to explore the new cat tree is by placing special treats on the various perches and encouraging them to get the snacks.
Owners of older cats don’t have to feel left out. Show them cat trees with steps or ramps for easier access and larger perches for cats with less mobility and balance. By the way, steps and ramps are fabulous on their own and can be utilized to help physically challenged cats gain access to areas in other parts of the house that they can’t on their own.
In closing, pet retailers that have a clear understanding of the many benefits of cat trees will be better able to answer questions from customers and educate their clientele about the importance of this product.