Cats In High Places - Adding Elevated Surfaces To Your Home
From your cat’s perspective, there is great importance to the three-dimensionality of your house. In nature, climbing is essential to the survival of the cat, and this instinct exists in household cats as well. Installing more elevated horizontal surfaces (e.g., shelves, cat trees, etc.) around the house can help solve a variety of behavioral problems and enrich your cat’s life at home.
What are the advantages of installing elevated surfaces for cats?
- Reduce cases of aggression – Your cat’s basic survival instinct is usually to avoid unnecessary confrontations. In most instances, your cat will attack only as a last resort, when there’s no other option. Adding an accessible and elevated escape route enables your cat to choose to escape rather than attack and reduces the cases of aggression around the house.
- Reduce territorial behavior – adding shelves and other high surfaces increases the effective territory available to the cat around the house, even in very small apartments. This increase in territory reduces instances of aggression caused by territorial tensions.
- Increased confidence in fearful cats – Elevated surfaces increase the chances of fearful or anxious cats leaving their hiding place and gaining more confidence to stay in the central parts of the house.
- Cat & Dog bonding – When attempting to form a bond between animals in a multi-pet home, it’s better if the cat prefers to climb up high rather than escape the room. Climbing to a high space allows the cat to look at the other animal from a safe distance and learn its body language, this way in the long run it will perceive it as less threatening.
How many elevated surfaces should I install?
The more the merrier! Especially in key areas where there is interaction between the cat and the rest of the home dwellers, or other pets, and in areas where there’s access to essential resources.
How to install elevated surfaces for my cat?
You should install shelves for your cat with a general rule of thumb being placing them at a height of 1.30 meters or higher. Depending on the level of the activity of your cat you may need to add intermediate shelves to help him gradually rise to the challenge. For a young and athletic cat one intermediate shelf placed at 80-90cm should be sufficient, while older cats will require more shelves, starting from a much lower height.
Theoretically, any wooden shelf should work fine, but you’ll want to make sure it is steady and not slippery, and ideally comfortable to the touch (padding is recommended).
Cat trees are wonderful, but they won’t be enough for more than one cat and won’t allow the cats to keep their distance from each other.
In most pet stores you can find a window-shelf, a padded shelf which attaches to the window through vacuum. This kind of shelf is an elegant solution to adding shelves when you can’t drill into the walls, but make sure you buy a steady shelf that can hold your cat’s weight.
In conclusion, there is a huge variety of shelves and other constructions you can place around your home to open up a new world for your cat. They come in various textures and colors, and you can easily find the right item to match your taste in design and décor. There really is no reason not to install this wonderful addition to your home and enrich your cat’s life.
Written by Dekel Eden-Tsalik, a certified feline behavioral consultant.
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