Help your cat reach the top
Cats often like to climb and perch on high places. Sometimes these are places that we, cat parents, do not approve of climbing onto – such as the kitchen counter or dining table. Climbing certain objects (the curtains, for example) can cause them damage, and some places can even be dangerous for your cat – an open window for instance. Understanding the motives behind your cat’s behavior can help you provide your cat with a satisfying alternative, while keeping him away from dangerous or undesired spots.
Why do cats like to climb to high places?
Climbing is in a cat’s nature. Felines in the wild climb trees to survey their surroundings in search of prey, and to escape predators. Muscular hind legs allow them to jump to great heights, while their strong, sharp claws function as crampons for climbing. When it comes to instincts and anatomy, domestic cats share these traits with their wild family members. But apart from their feral instincts kicking in, cats actually have a few more reasons to climb your furniture.
Cats like to climb to high places where they have a clear view of their surroundings, helping them feel safe and in control over the territory. Climbing to increase territory is especially necessary in a multi-cat household. Having more options for your cats to stroll around reduces the number of conflicting areas in the home.
Cats often climb to escape something that scares them or bothers them, for instance another pet or even little children that want to play with them. The top of the refrigerator can provide a warm napping spot, while counter tops and stove tops are ideal places to search for food remnants.
Finally, climbing is also great exercise. Providing your cat with plenty of vertical space is important for his health and overall well-being. Not all cats enjoy climbing – I have a Ragdoll that prefers staying closer to the ground. However, if your cat does – make sure your house’s topography suits his needs so he is safe and content.
How to keep your cat from climbing on the kitchen counter (and other surfaces)
OK, so we understand why it’s natural for cats to climb. But how can we control where they climb? The answer is simple: by making certain places unattractive to climb, while providing satisfying and safe alternatives.
Are you leaving food on the counter, for your cat to nibble on whenever he jumps there? This creates a positive reinforcement, encouraging your cat to repeat this behavior again and again. Make sure any food you leave on the counter is closed in a concealed container, out of your cat’s reach.
Next, try using double sided tape. Most cats will dislike the feeling of their paws touching this sticky material. Apply double sided tape to the edge of the counter, where your cat’s paws first touch when he’s climbing. Once your cat realizes that this surface is not enjoyable to climb, he will stop trying, and the tape can be removed.
These methods apply to other furniture as well, but remember – it’s important to place a safe climbing alternative nearby. Encourage your cat to use the intended furniture by giving him positive reinforcement whenever he does so – by giving him a treat, petting him and talking to him.
The alternatives – cat climbing furniture
There are plenty of ways to create vertical space for your cat without compromising the aesthetics of your interior:
- Hanging cat shelves is an easy way of creating vertical space, while adding some interest to an otherwise boring, empty wall. Don’t forget to add a comfy perch or cat bed at the top.
- A window perch can be the perfect spot for sunbathing and bird watching (just be careful of leaving an open window, in case your cat actually decides to chase the birds). If there’s a wide enough windowsill you don’t even need to buy a perch. Just hang a small shelf close to the windowsill to help your cat reach it.
- Use existing elements of your interior and make them accessible for your cat. Beams or similar vertical elements can be covered with sisal, carpeting, or another coarse material for climbing. Give your cat access to high horizontal beams by hanging small shelves to be used as steps, and apply a non-slip surface on the beams so that your cat can stroll them safely.
- Cat trees with a natural wood bark are great for creating that outdoors-y feeling, for your cat and yourself. If you’re not a fan of rustic home decor don’t worry, there are plenty of contemporary cat trees on the market these days, so finding one that matches your sense of style shouldn’t be too difficult.
- Cat towers, cat condos and cat houses are also a great way to create more vertical space. A beautifully designed cat tower can also create an interesting focal point in your interior.
If you have some free wall space you might be interested in this modular cat shelves series
Pro tips – maximizing your cat’s climbing experience
Cats can get bored and depressed in a small space with little stimulation. Therefore, the smaller your apartment – the more vertical space your cat needs. In a multi-cat household, it is preferred to have at least one tall perch area per cat, to prevent territorial conflicts. The best way to incorporate vertical space is to create several pathways at different heights, combining the architectural elements in your home with cat climbing furniture.
Does your cat have enough vertical space at home? Where does he or she like to climb the most? Share your experience in the comments!