Meowing Up The Wrong Tree? (& Lots of Pictures)

Cat tree. Kitty condo. Cat tower. Cat playground . . . Cat furniture. Should you get your cat one? Or will it become just one more item you were so excited to buy for your cat that he will ignore (and you will trip over repeatedly)? Even if you have no interest in a cat tree . . . you'll still enjoy some cute pictures and anecdotes about Bear (as if he can be anything BUT cute - oh, wait . . . but I don't share those pictures). And at the end of the post . . . The Cat Tree Rules (very important!) courtesy of Bear. If you laugh at The Cat Tree Rules, you are human . . . and Momma won't tell Bear (because he takes them VERY seriously - as Momma can attest to with various scars in some inconvenient and somewhat strange places). 

Before I start, I want to assure you I'm not selling anything . . . I have no connections to any company related to cat trees and I receive no compensation from such. I'm simply sharing my (sometimes) funny experience, some awesome/cute pictures, and a bit of humor concerning (a cat) owning a cat tree. This appears obvious, but I'm going to say it anyway: the decision to get a cat tree depends on your cat - and while a vet might provide insight (which I am not), you are probably the best judge of whether your cat would like a cat tree. Kitty (my first and only cat before Bear) probably wouldn't have enjoyed it nearly as much as Bear has. She wasn't much into jumping or climbing up high . . . as long as she had a secure, protected spot off the ground, she was happy.

So what changed that I bought Bear a cat tree?

* Bear really likes to jump - the higher the better. On top of the kitchen cabinets, on top of the closet shelves, on top of the refrigerator . . . on top of the entertainment center. Because he's relatively fearless about jumping, I often feared he'd hurt himself, especially on the impossible-seeming jumps (like from the floor to the top of the 7 foot tall entertainment center) that he refuses to give up on (and still hasn't accomplished). With the cat tree, he seems less eager for these daring jumps . . . though he attempts them every so often . . . but I suspect he does these for attention because he knows I'll engage with him to try to get him to stop. You can read more about Bear's jumping adventures {HERE}.

* Bear used my laptop as a cat bed. When I got my laptop, I had to disable the touch pad and hot keys . . . and he still occasionally managed to change settings on my computer that took me hours to figure out how to correct (like when the display rotated 90 degrees - not just in Windows - but even before Windows started). Of course, he also enjoyed walking across or sitting on the keyboard. I recognize he probably just wanted attention while I worked, but it was still frustrating. I hoped by giving him a cat tree, that he'd prefer to sleep there and misbehave there (I tried a cat bed on the end of the table next to my laptop first - no luck - unless I shut the lid to prevent him from sprawling out on the keyboard). Having a cat tree didn't really help this problem . . . but getting a desktop did. For whatever reason (it's not warm maybe?), he has no interest in the desktop keyboard, though he still likes to stand in my way and make a nuisance of himself (which is mostly cute). In the end, I managed to pass all the sections of the CPA exam, after studying for them full-time on my laptop . . . even with my study buddy. 

Oh?!?! You want to work? No. I think you'll feed me/pet me/admire me! (Change in Bear's tactics from the laptop to the desktop)

* Bear spent a few weeks at a cat "resort" and fell in love with the cat tree in the play room (and I got pictures!). Of course, when Momma came to pick him up, he jumped down and ran into Momma's arms. But the seed was planted (very cutely I think)!

* Bear likes to use his claws: the carpet, the furniture, Momma . . . he just really likes to dig his claws in and show things (and Momma) who's boss. I hoped a cat tree with its 10 scratching posts would entice Bear to use them. Not so much. The scratching posts still look pristine after five years . . . Momma's carpet and furniture . . . not so much. The kicker? The below damage to Momma's loveseat happened in only three months when Bear was a kitten . . . at which point Momma covered it with a blanket. Alas, Bear figured out how to get under the blanket and pull the foam stuffing out. That's just how he rolls.

Putting the cat tree together
At first, the task seemed daunting, but it was certainly fun for Bear to "help" Momma (and not too bad for Momma).

The cat tree came with these stringy balls to attach to the cat tree, but the directions plainly said they were for decoration only and not for the cats to play with . . . really? Who made this decision to include the balls if they aren't for the cat to play with? If a person puts them up, the cat will play. Several times, Bear tried to steal the balls as I was assembling the tree . . . Knowing Bear's affinity for chewing through string and destroying his toys, the balls have been safely stored in the closet since I finished the assembly (it seems like a waste, but if the cat tree company cautions against using them as cat toys, well, I'm going to listen, especially because I know my cat's destructive tendencies).

Momma attaches the "decorations" for Bear as a one-time only activity. A bit of craziness ensued . . .


Final cat tree placement (with Bear as king of his castle and the corner)

As you can see, Momma pimped the cat tree out a bit. After reading the reviews about the thin carpet covering the perches, Momma gathered the cat bed, a few blankets, and a few towels to make the perches as comfortable as possible. I also ripped up an old sweatshirt to make a nest in one of the cat condos (which Bear hardly uses). Bear uses the largest cat condo (at the bottom) when we play . . . Momma moves a toy over the holes/entrances and over the top and Bear tries to pull it inside. I suspect a cat who likes boxes would appreciate the cat condos more, but Bear isn't that cat. He likes the perches. Whenever Momma's not available, Bear spends most of his time on his cat tree perches sleeping. 

One drawback of the arrangement: Bear took over the entire corner where the cat tree stands - between the couch and the loveseat. Originally, Momma put the cat tree in the corner so it was out of the way and she wouldn't trip over it. The "cat tree corner" is the corner area between two couches, where the cat tree stands, from the floor to the ceiling. Momma isn't allowed to go in the corner for any reason (see Cat Tree Rules below). 

An unexpected benefit of the placement of the cat tree: Bear now has an elevated perch from which to watch birds (the larger rectangle perch behind the largest, bottom cat condo). The position of this platform is perfect for looking out the window.

Cat Tree Rules (part of the Geneva Cat Convention) - From Bear

What is the Geneva Cat Convention? A carefully crafted set of minimum standards for the treatment of cats in all kinds of situations and circumstances. However, instead of being a treaty or agreement like the original Geneva Conventions, it hasn't been passed, ratified, or agreed to by humans and reads more as a set of demands. Because that's what cats do. In our conversations, Bear quite often refers to these rules when accusing Momma of mistreatment and indecency toward Bear. Perhaps Bear, in a future post, will further elucidate these basic tenets on a more thorough basis . . . because Momma does not know all the rules and they tend to change and shift with the whims of the cat . . . big surprise.

* Basic tenet: What happens in the cat tree corner, stays in the cat tree corner. No cat shall be interrogated, harassed or reproved because of actions undertaken within the jurisdiction of the cat tree corner.

* Incursions: Bear shall consider anyone entering the cat tree corner (for ANY reason) as an act of war against the independent, autonomous domain of the seceded (from Momma's house) cat tree corner. Neither retrieving trapped cat toys nor cleaning up hairballs constitute exceptions to this rule against incursions and will result in Bear dive bombing the offending person (Momma who has to contort herself in painful positions to reach back there) from the perches above. And no, Bear doesn't dive bomb because he wants to "play," the behavior is 100% defense of his territory. 

* Removal: The cat shall not be removed from the cat corner . . . especially when he's hiding out back there (under the tree) because he doesn't want Momma to clip his claws, brush his teeth, or take him to the vet. All defenses will be deployed to prevent his removal. 

* Touching: Thou shalt not touch the cat when he's in the cat tree or in the cat corner. The following are not excuses to break this rule: the cat is just "too cute" that you can't resist petting said cat, removing the cat because you require something from him, and emergencies/natural disasters. The cat is not responsible for the human's lack of self-control (to pet him). In fact, he'd like to point out the extreme self-control shown by cat at all times (but namely when he comes running for some desirable activity and then acts oblivious and nonchalant for at least a minute before partaking of said activity once he's reached his destination). In the event of the sky falling or other emergencies . . . the cat will come down when he's ready and not a moment before. In any case, the cat will come down when he's ready, or when the doorbell rings or the cat carrier is removed from the closet. You will be given ample time to pet the cat after he exits the cat tree corner . . . as long as he feels like it.

* Talking/other cacophony: Thou shalt not talk to the cat when he is in the cat tree. Only two conditions are considered exceptions: the mention of the word "treats," and the mention of the word "play." Thou shalt not sing, dance, nor turn up one's hideous music to interfere with the cat's pleasure in his cat tree. Such iniquities are strictly forbidden and might result in the cat taking matters into his own paws and chewing through the stereo cords or other tactics for deliverance from these atrocities.

* Looking/privacy: Thou shalt not look at the cat in the cat tree (or take pictures). This only agitates the cat and he won't guarantee civil behavior in such event. As if this need be said, but if the cat, in the privacy of his cat tree, must lick his behind or otherwise groom himself, the human shall not leer, cajole, or otherwise acknowledge the cat's existence.

* Usage: No humans shall be allowed on the cat tree. This includes the wedging of a body between and within the features of the cat tree while attempting to clean the premises. Refer to the earlier statute on incursions and the latter statute on sanitation.

* Sanitation: Thou shalt not remove the furnishings of the cat tree under any conditions, including: to launder, wipe clean or otherwise defur the furnishings. Also, thou shalt not wipe clean, vacuum, defur, or clean up furballs on the cat tree itself and surrounding areas. If it's there . . . the cat wants it there. Violations and entry into the cat's autonomous territory are covered under the incursions statute. Also, the "straightening" of the furnishings on the cat tree is strictly prohibited . . . even if the cat is in the cat bed and the cat bed (and cat) are hanging halfway off the highest perch (as shown in the last picture before Cat Tree Rules): that's just the way the cat wants it.

* Hiding: Thou shalt not see a cat, in the cat tree corner, in I'm-about-to-pounce mode or any other mode of hiding where the cat wishes to be invisible and effect a "surprise" on the human. If the cat wants to surprise said human . . .  the human shall oblige. 

* Ownership: As with all other items in the household, the cat tree and its surroundings are the cat's. Or as Bear likes to say, "Mine, MINE, MINE!!!" Bear does not share. Bear does not negotiate. Bear does as Bear will. That is all.

Momma's Note: Yes, I have run afoul of these regulations on a regular basis. In retrospect, the incidents are funny . . . but in the moment, with the contortions required to reach back there, Momma has gotten stuck more than she'd like to admit. Which is bad enough: Add the dive bombing, angry cat - to the being trapped in an awkward position - and the whole thing devolves into hilarity . . . later. So my mention, in the introduction, of scars in inconvenient and strange places, suddenly should make sense to our readers with good imaginations.


  1. We just bought our 9th cat tree a month or so ago. They wear them out! We have 14 cats and it's very rare that at least one of them isn't on them! We've had to toss 3 of them because they shredded the sisal and broke the posts already! They play on them, sleep on them, and use them as lookouts! I'm glad you got one for Bear! I know he loves it!

    1. Bear's is in pretty good shape (and of course, the sisal posts are pristine . . . unlike my furniture) for being 5 years old. He really likes climbing and it was definitely the best investment I ever made. You never know - with cats - you give them an expensive present which they might forget in favor of the milk ring :) Seeing him happy is what matters. And he uses it for sleep, play, and lookouts, just like yours.

  2. Yep mommy had always wanted to get a cat tree, specially fur sis Lexi as she luvved bein' up high. 'Course it was never in our budget. We were so thrilled when we were given our Liberty Tree. Unfurtunately by then sis Lexi was too sick to truly enjoy it, but me luvs it and so does Raena. Luv your tree Bear, it looks like lots of fun. But those stringy toys are health hazards. Me almost strangled meself. Not fun.

    Luv ya'

    Dezi and Raena

    1. My Momma doesn't let me have any toy with string without supervision ... we're glad you were okay!!


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