Is Your Cat not Paying Attention to his new Cat Tree?

Cat lying on a cat treeDid you bought a new cat tree lately, assembled it and placed at the best spot in your house, but suddenly, your cat is not paying ANY attention to it? Or maybe he is even afraid? What a waste of money…

We recently bought a new cat tree as well, and at first, our cat sniffed around it, but turned away with no greater interest. However, not long time has passed, and she spends reasonable partition of her time, both active and sleeping, on her new cat tree. It’s fun, comfortable and provides her a security when our two year old daughter is approaching to “hug” her.

Cats are natural climbers, and, if they do not enjoy lying on a cat tree in an indoor environment, probably there’s something that distracts them. Whether it’s stress, ennui, or maybe they just did not realize benefits it provides, yet.

Reconsider Positioning of the cat tree

Having a cat tree placed at a random spot may not give a result desired. Cat, probably, has already established his own preferences and a daily routine, and including a new object in it, is not what’s in his mind.

The trick is integrating the new furniture into your cat’s life. That is, a cat tree should be placed somewhere near the spot, where your cat is spending a significant amount of his time already.

Cats spend large fraction of their day napping and playing, and they usually have preferred locations for those activities. And here you have it. Place a cat tree in the same room, where your cat is enjoying those activities the most time, and as close to the exact spot where your cat already likes being. Example, if your cat sleeps on your couch, try placing a cat tree next to it. If it’s not possible, don’t worry, you may still find a perfect spot in the same room.

What are other thing to look after when positioning a cat tree? A possibility to observe his territory from the above is important for a cat. This means, a place round the corner, where he does not have an overview of the room, or a hallway, would not be a brilliant idea. If there’s a possibility to place a cat tree next to a window, it’s great.

Other things to consider is placing a cat tree in front of the places your cat is using his claws on the wall, or so the cat is able to climb somewhere else from the cat tree, like a window sill or top of some other surface (if he’s allowed there, though).

Cat tree should also give a sanctuary to your cat. That is, is he usually disturbed by kids, dogs, guests or even his owners? If so, think of a place where he may enjoy annoying creatures not being present, or not being able to reach him. However, the spot should still meet the other requirements, and, stating that the cat is a social creature, some presence of his owners should be necessary, as cats love company.

Stuffing the cat tree in a basement would not be suitable, but if it’s located in your bedroom, where you enter now and then, but the heaviest action happens somewhere else, might be enjoyable to your cat. However, in this case we’d still recommend placing a smaller cat tree in the “heavy action” room, as well.

Two cats charing a cat tree friendly
photo by Jon Ross (CC)

And also remember, if you have more than one cat, a particular individual may not dare or want to climb on a cat tree in a specific location, especially, it’s already “claimed” by the other cat. This may lead to a necessity having more than a one cat tree, placed in different locations. Of course, it’s not true if your cats get along well, and do not mind the company of others at all. On the other hand, even cats who are friendly to each other will benefit from cat tree availability in alternating locations. Even a single cat household will benefit from it. Remember, cats love options.

Encourage your cat to use the cat tree step by step

Now you have a perfectly positioned cat tree, or even more than one in different, good locations. Now it’s time to “make your cat love it”. Of course, if placed properly, chances are high, your cat will discover the benefits on his own, but in some cases, an encouragement might be necessary. Especially, if your cat is afraid of the cat tree.

There are several forms of encouragement aids. Most popular, and effective, by no doubt, is treating. Others that work well are playing to or petting your cat. You must already now what works best for him.

1. Start by throwing few kibbles on the floor next to the new cat tree. Allow your cat to eat them, pet him and praise, and let him see that his new furniture is posing no harm. If your cat is not afraid of the cat tree, most likely you will not have to repeat this step. However, if your cat is stressed, then, depending on the amount of stress, you may want to repeat this several times, with a pause between.

If you use playing or petting, it’s similar. Start this activity close to a cat tree, and act naturally, like if the furniture were not there. Make you cat accustomed to the presence of the new cat tree. And again, if your cat is not afraid of it, you’ll be able to move on almost instantly.

2. Get your cat’s attention on the treat and place it on a lower shelf of the cat tree. You may scratch a top of it with your fingers, pick up and drop the treat several times repeatedly, or call your cat. If your pet is still a bit afraid, you may even create a trail of treats leading to the cat tree. However, if he’s not stressed at all, you may put him on a cat tree next to the treats, if nothing of the previous works. Though, if he’s trying to jump off, don’t stop him.

Treats may be replaced by playing, as well. Slide your cats favorite toy along the floor, place it on a cat tree, and position, so your cat does not have a direct view on it, but make sure, he was all eyes and ears before. This will raise his curiosity, and he may go after it.

If he’s afraid, play as you normally would in a same room, but try sliding the toy over the lower part of the cat tree occasionally, and return to normal playing instantly. At some point, your cat will jump on the cat tree after the toy. Praise him, and depending on his stress level, continue playing on a cat tree, or get back on the floor.

3. After your cat has leaned to accept lower shelves, no matter, by eating treats or going after the toy, it probably will not make difficulties encouraging him to explore more of his new furniture gradually, if you apply the same approach each step forward.

Provide peace and security in a form of a cat tree

One of the most beneficial things why cats love heights is they provide security. It’s true in nature, and it’s true for household environment. While, in the household there is no danger in the form of death threat, cats are usually bothered by dogs, kids, other pets and other cats, as well.

Cat trees provide security to the cat!
photo by Jon Ross (CC)

It does not need to be something obvious, like a kid pulling a cat by its tail, or a dog chewing his ears off. In some cases, cat may be disturbed by the presence of someone in a slight manner, and may find climbing atop a cat tree solution easy enough.

Death treat from physical objects, like a vacuum cleaner may be also easily avoided, by climbing higher. This way, a cat tree will be his definite favorite spot in the house, if it provides a shelter and peace.

However, for this to be effective, you must ensure, that any possible bother will not reach the cat on the cat tree. In the example, with dogs or small kids, you may provide the cat tree located so the dog (or the kid) is not able to reach the top shelf, or place it in a room, where the dog or kids do not enter often. If your kids are larger (this includes your spouse, parents and grandparents) you may explain not to bother a cat, at times when he’s residing on a cat tree, and make sure that everyone (including you) sticks to this agreement.

Petting, as long as it is kept to minimum and does not become bothering, is fine. It’s actually necessary, but if a cat wants to sleep, or shows any form of aggression of aversion (like tail thumping, skin twitching or running away), activity should not be proceeded. A cat tree must be like a safe heaven in the eyes of your cat, and isn’t it the reason you’ve got the cat tree in the first place?