Cat trees

TissonS

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Joined
Jul 13, 2020
Messages
1
Reaction score
1
Hi everyone. I'm new here and was really looking for a place to vent frustration to others who would understand. I am owned by 3 very different cats. The matriarch of our family is a 20yr grey domestic shorthair. Followed by a 9yr old tuxedo and the subject of this frustration, he is a very large sandy/ginger Siberian. Our boy Simba, the name he adopted us with, is a "lion" in size and heart. He loves to be up and perch and climb. We purchased a commercial cat tree that said was for larger cats. What a joke that was. It comes with a tunnel that maybe a kitten could use as well as a hide for the same little kitten. The top platform he uses but most of the time his legs are hanging over it. I would love to create my own catified home but as it is a rental we can't do much. I really wish that these companies would take in to account realistic sizes of cats and create things for realife cats.
 

Columbine

Advisor
Staff Member
Advisor
Joined
Feb 27, 2015
Messages
12,869
Reaction score
6,015
Location
The kitty playground
Hi, and welcome to TCS :hithere: :welcomesign:

So many cat trees are disappointing in size. I agree that far too many simply don't measure up when it comes to big cats. There are a few small makers on places like Etsy that truly make trees big enough for really big kitties. They're generally a little pricier, but are worth it. I'm in the UK, so i can't suggest specific brands or makers for you, but decent sized cat trees are out there.

Art Motion & Sound (made by bengalcatman bengalcatman ) have some fabulous scratching posts for big cats, which are well worth a look.
 

LTS3

TCS Member
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Aug 29, 2014
Messages
13,498
Reaction score
11,392
Location
USA
Aruba Cat makes really sturdy cat trees that are kind of pricey: ARUBACAT - CAT FURNITURE

There are TCS threads on sturdy trees for large cats:


You can look around Etsy.com for large cat trees. Some sellers do custom trees.
 

bengalcatman

TCS Member
Alpha Cat
Joined
Dec 5, 2014
Messages
409
Reaction score
1,430
Location
Eastern PA
Hi, and welcome to TCS :hithere: :welcomesign:

So many cat trees are disappointing in size. I agree that far too many simply don't measure up when it comes to big cats. There are a few small makers on places like Etsy that truly make trees big enough for really big kitties. They're generally a little pricier, but are worth it. I'm in the UK, so i can't suggest specific brands or makers for you, but decent sized cat trees are out there.

Art Motion & Sound (made by bengalcatman bengalcatman ) have some fabulous scratching posts for big cats, which are well worth a look.
Thanks for the mention!

Hi everyone. I'm new here and was really looking for a place to vent frustration to others who would understand. I am owned by 3 very different cats. The matriarch of our family is a 20yr grey domestic shorthair. Followed by a 9yr old tuxedo and the subject of this frustration, he is a very large sandy/ginger Siberian. Our boy Simba, the name he adopted us with, is a "lion" in size and heart. He loves to be up and perch and climb. We purchased a commercial cat tree that said was for larger cats. What a joke that was. It comes with a tunnel that maybe a kitten could use as well as a hide for the same little kitten. The top platform he uses but most of the time his legs are hanging over it. I would love to create my own catified home but as it is a rental we can't do much. I really wish that these companies would take in to account realistic sizes of cats and create things for realife cats.
Quick scratcher tutorial that might be helpful...
I did a bunch of research on scratchers, and contacted several of the people who did the research with questions. I also did a lot of real world experiments with some very patient customers. Here is what I found:

Most large house cats and most hybrids, if left to their own devices, with scratch to a height of 28 inches. But if given a choice of several scratchers between 18 and 36 inches tall, they prefer to scratch the ones that are at least 24 inches tall. They don't seem to care if its taller. Oddly enough, small house cats seem to like at least 24 inches too. So wherever you buy a scratcher, make sure it is at least 24 inches tall.

For materials, research shows that cats like to scratch stuff they they can see and feel they are damaging. Probably because that is one way they mark their territory in the wild. So get something that they can damage. I use sisal because it holds up well, and they can see the damage. Some cats strongly prefer cardboard scratchers, probably around ten percent won't touch sisal if a cardboard scratcher is available. Some people say that the cardboard does not give enough resistance to help the cat shed its claw sheaths (part of the reason they scratch) but I have never seen a study and when I tested it I found claw sheaths in the cardboard- so I suspect it works just fine. I don't sell any cardboard scratchers but I did do some field testing with them.

Carpet and sisal fabric (as opposed to wrapped sisal) both work but cats can supposedly ingest the fibers. They also teach cats to scratch rugs/fabrics, probably not what you want your cat to do. I have heard that these types of scratchers can also "trap" a claw and the cat can injure their paw trying to get free - but I spoke with 6 veterinarians about it and none of them ever saw it. I didn't find any journal articles to support it either - I think it is just one of those internet stories.

Horizontal or vertical: Most cats will scratch either one. Some do seem to show a preference.... but they are cats and cats do weird things. One woman who did a lot of field testing for me found that one of her seven cats (seven!) would only scratch a horizontal. After four months of observation, this held true. Then she noted how that particular cat then switched and would only scratch the vertical. All Most house cats don't show a preference between the two and a vertical takes up a lot less space. I have heard from the customers with large hybrids and small wildcats say that their cats like the horizontals because they don't move when the cats scratches them - mainly because the cat in actually on the scratcher. Most cats are happy with a 24 inch horizontal, really big cats like hybrids and small wildcats like 30 inches.

Some cats play on horizontal scratchers - here is Makena testing an early prototype


I can go on a LONG time about scratching and scratchers, but lets leave it here: at least 24 inches tall, cardboard or wrapped sisal, horizontal or vertical.

I got started making scratchers when we got our first Bengal (Makena.) He is a large and strong cat that managed to tear the cover right off of the scratcher I bought him. When I refastened the cover - he broke the bolt holding the post. And it was only 20 inches tall. So I went out into my workshop and built him a sturdy one. When I posted it up on a Bengal forum (sadly a long gone forum now) I got people that wanted to buy them. Hence the fun little side business. With a background in research (you suspected that already!) I naturally went a bit further than most in evidence based designs.

Makena marking a tree in our woods
 

moxiewild

Seniors, Special Needs, and Ferals
Alpha Cat
Joined
Aug 4, 2014
Messages
691
Reaction score
783
Thanks for the mention!



Quick scratcher tutorial that might be helpful...
I did a bunch of research on scratchers, and contacted several of the people who did the research with questions. I also did a lot of real world experiments with some very patient customers. Here is what I found:

Most large house cats and most hybrids, if left to their own devices, with scratch to a height of 28 inches. But if given a choice of several scratchers between 18 and 36 inches tall, they prefer to scratch the ones that are at least 24 inches tall. They don't seem to care if its taller. Oddly enough, small house cats seem to like at least 24 inches too. So wherever you buy a scratcher, make sure it is at least 24 inches tall.

For materials, research shows that cats like to scratch stuff they they can see and feel they are damaging. Probably because that is one way they mark their territory in the wild. So get something that they can damage. I use sisal because it holds up well, and they can see the damage. Some cats strongly prefer cardboard scratchers, probably around ten percent won't touch sisal if a cardboard scratcher is available. Some people say that the cardboard does not give enough resistance to help the cat shed its claw sheaths (part of the reason they scratch) but I have never seen a study and when I tested it I found claw sheaths in the cardboard- so I suspect it works just fine. I don't sell any cardboard scratchers but I did do some field testing with them.

Carpet and sisal fabric (as opposed to wrapped sisal) both work but cats can supposedly ingest the fibers. They also teach cats to scratch rugs/fabrics, probably not what you want your cat to do. I have heard that these types of scratchers can also "trap" a claw and the cat can injure their paw trying to get free - but I spoke with 6 veterinarians about it and none of them ever saw it. I didn't find any journal articles to support it either - I think it is just one of those internet stories.

Horizontal or vertical: Most cats will scratch either one. Some do seem to show a preference.... but they are cats and cats do weird things. One woman who did a lot of field testing for me found that one of her seven cats (seven!) would only scratch a horizontal. After four months of observation, this held true. Then she noted how that particular cat then switched and would only scratch the vertical. All Most house cats don't show a preference between the two and a vertical takes up a lot less space. I have heard from the customers with large hybrids and small wildcats say that their cats like the horizontals because they don't move when the cats scratches them - mainly because the cat in actually on the scratcher. Most cats are happy with a 24 inch horizontal, really big cats like hybrids and small wildcats like 30 inches.

Some cats play on horizontal scratchers - here is Makena testing an early prototype


I can go on a LONG time about scratching and scratchers, but lets leave it here: at least 24 inches tall, cardboard or wrapped sisal, horizontal or vertical.

I got started making scratchers when we got our first Bengal (Makena.) He is a large and strong cat that managed to tear the cover right off of the scratcher I bought him. When I refastened the cover - he broke the bolt holding the post. And it was only 20 inches tall. So I went out into my workshop and built him a sturdy one. When I posted it up on a Bengal forum (sadly a long gone forum now) I got people that wanted to buy them. Hence the fun little side business. With a background in research (you suspected that already!) I naturally went a bit further than most in evidence based designs.

Makena marking a tree in our woods
We have 17 cats in the house right now (3 front declawed, but still “scratch”), and have had somewhere around 50 the past the few years in the house, excluding kittens.

Anecdotally, all of that sounds right on the money! We only use heavy cardboard scratchers (horizontal and incline), and wrapped sisal scratchers (horizontal, incline, and vertical) because those materials are by far what we’ve had the most luck with.

We ensure that no matter what direction or material, that it is heavy and sturdy enough for scratching without lifting/wobbling/tipping over.

For vertical scratchers, I have also noticed that most cats don’t actually go beyond ~25”, so that’s really interesting there’s research on that that’s consistent with our observations! Regardless, I usually opt for 35”+ posts when buying commercial (unless it’s wall mounted) simply because most of the time they are sturdier as a result of the added height.

Kittens and very young cats also tend to like the extra length to jump and play (we refer to it as “Kitten Velcro” because It looks similar to jumping on a Velcro wall 😂). We also have an F2 Savannah that’s a permanent resident. He never scratches at full length, and prefers horizontal scratchers actually, but he Ioves the tall vertical scratchers just to “stretch against” at his full length.

Other than the Savannah preferring horizontal scratchers, we’ve only observed older arthritic cats sticking to one “direction” or the other. They seem to prefer horizontal as well, which makes sense for that age group.

The majority of cats seem to like both/all directions pretty equally otherwise, like you said. I find it necessary to have at least one horizontal and one vertical, because if I don’t, they find something else horizontal or vertical to scratch!
 

moxiewild

Seniors, Special Needs, and Ferals
Alpha Cat
Joined
Aug 4, 2014
Messages
691
Reaction score
783
Hi everyone. I'm new here and was really looking for a place to vent frustration to others who would understand. I am owned by 3 very different cats. The matriarch of our family is a 20yr grey domestic shorthair. Followed by a 9yr old tuxedo and the subject of this frustration, he is a very large sandy/ginger Siberian. Our boy Simba, the name he adopted us with, is a "lion" in size and heart. He loves to be up and perch and climb. We purchased a commercial cat tree that said was for larger cats. What a joke that was. It comes with a tunnel that maybe a kitten could use as well as a hide for the same little kitten. The top platform he uses but most of the time his legs are hanging over it. I would love to create my own catified home but as it is a rental we can't do much. I really wish that these companies would take in to account realistic sizes of cats and create things for realife cats.
I always check measurements on every platform/cubby/etc because of this.

I agree, it is so frustrating! It shouldn’t be too much to ask for cat trees to accommodate an average sized adult cat at the very least!

This is one of the things that completely shocked me when I got my first cat. Seems like so many trees, scratchers, etc are made for kittens, and at most, 10lb limber cats who like to curl up into a tight ball!

I also hate when a design makes it almost impossible for a cat to jump easily from platform to platform, so this is another thing to watch out for!

I will say though, I’ve seen a definite improvement in the past couple of years!

I recently bought one from amazon with 23”x13” platforms and cubbies. Our largest cat is only 14lbs, but it’s more than enough room for him, and he’s not a “curl up” type at all.

Another one from Amazon that I was super impressed with is this one -

Amazon.com : LAZY BUDDY Cat Tree, 54” Wooden Modern Cat Tower, 4 Levels for Cat's Activity, Cat Furniture with Removable and Washable Mats for Kittens, Large Cats and Pets (Small) : Pet Supplies

Not only because of the platform sizes, but because it is absolutely the most stable and sturdy tree we’ve ever had, which is not what I was expecting from an Amazon purchase! Only downside is that the Velcro sucks and needed to be replaced, but that’s no big deal. It’s unfortunately unavailable right now, but we paid $120.

For the average, young 10-12lb cat, Chewy’s Frisco modern wood cat trees are also decently sized, at least compared to what you usually find. Cubbies and beds are usually around 14”x14” with some models having more “open” cubbies with extensions that make them even longer.

Some of the platforms are difficult to access for older cats, though. They need to stagger them better.

But they definitely have a very small footprint, and are much more stable than I would have guessed for how small the base is. One of our foster kittens is 12 pounds (!!!) of solid muscle and it barely moves when he jumps to the highest level of the tallest cat tree in that line.

We have several of them now (we’re slowly replacing all of our carpet and fabric trees with wood trees with washable bedding), and we’ve been very happy with them so far. I think they’re great for younger, agile cats, and the ones with cubbies on lower levels or the shorter trees are still pretty good for both young and old.

I think Vesper is another line that’s similar, but I haven’t seen any particularly tall trees that I recall.

Refined Feline has some pretty decently sized platforms too, and I know their Lotus tree is super tall, but their stuff is pricey.

If money isn’t an issue though, you can definitely find some tall, sturdy trees with very large platforms/beds/cubbies (since we usually have 12-16 cats in the house, quantity is usually more important than quality for us 😂).

Like some else said, Etsy can be a great option for this sort of thing, as well as companies that cater to large breeds, like hybrids and Maine Coons.

If you’re restricted by budget, there are definitely some hidden gems out there, but you have to take the time to search and compare. You can also find a lot of DIY instructions online if you don’t mind a project.

If you aren’t sure what to look for, I started out initially by measuring my cats while sleeping in their favorite spots/beds/positions to get a better idea of what measurements I needed, lol.

You know, i did a lot of searching about 5 years ago, and I seriously could not find anything but trees with tiny platforms back then, other than a few select lines that were extremely pricey and had that classic carpeted look.

Cat furniture has come such a long way in both looks and functionality in that short amount of time (I think Jackson Galaxy’s show played a pretty big role in this), so I have hope that it’s only going to continue to improve!
 

cataholic07

TCS Member
Alpha Cat
Joined
Jul 28, 2014
Messages
630
Reaction score
815
I got my cat trees custom built because of how big my cats are lol. It can actually be cheaper I have found which is crazy. But my cats, like yours are very big cats lol. My boys are over 12lbs and super long and Fynn is super tall. This tree is just one that I had made. :) So maybe look to find a custom cat tree maker in your city? The noncustom cat tree in my house is way too small now. My 3 love to sleep together, or at least near to each other so the small tree wouldnt have worked.

2020-06-16 13.25.12.jpg
 
Top