Thursday, August 15, 2019

Is your cat meowing up the wrong cat tree? [Yaheetech Cat tree review]

One of the biggest problems for those of us who share our lives with cats is offering adequate outlets for our cats' energy and their instincts. Without those offerings, cats are left to their own devices to fill their time and meet their needs - and are more likely to find unacceptable (to humans) means to expend their energy and fulfill their instincts. We wrote about feline instincts and how they might be misdirected in Feline instincts. Not providing an enriched environment for our cats is one reason their instincts might become misdirected. Adding a cat tree to one's home is one of the easiest ways to offer cats a different (and more acceptable to us) outlet for them to be those wonderful creatures we call cats.


How does a cat tree enrich the environment of your feline[s]?

As I researched this article, my favorite explanation of why cats need a cat tree was explained by Shelley DelRocco of Pet Tree Houses: “We came up with the acronym P.E.T. – a cat is a Predator, Explorer, and Threat assessor. The tree represents and satisfies many basic needs tied to those character traits. As a Predator, the cat uses it to seek prey and survey his domain. As an Explorer, he uses it to look for new vantage points. And as a Threat assessor, he uses it as a place to retreat to and defend himself if needed.” Let's break down into pieces how a cat tree enriches the lives of cats.


Vertical space.
Humans operate based on horizontal space - but our cats use space vertically as well as horizontally. Cats need to utilize vertical territory for comfort, safety, and even fun. By expanding cats' territories vertically, we minimize fights over horizontal territory in homes with multiple cats or limited space. One of the easiest ways of adding vertical space is a cat tree. While two cats might not be able to peacefully share their horizontal spaces, the varied vertical nature of the cat tree allows each cat to have his own space.


An outlet for scratching.
Cats need to scratch instinctually - for a variety of reasons, including stretching their muscles, shedding old cuticle or claw sheaths, sharpening their claws, and marking their territory. They DO NOT scratch to be vindictive or intentionally harmful to our possessions. Scratching is a completely healthy (and necessary) activity for our cats. By providing a cat tree with scratching posts, we offer cats an outlet for their scratching instincts vs. them expressing those instincts on our furniture or carpet. For years, Bear scratched the furniture and I didn't think scratchers would help, but now that we have scratchers for Ellie, I'm noticing Bear is using the scratchers more and more for scratching and the furniture less.

Recreation/exercise/mental stimulation.
Cats find more ways to play with a cat tree than they would without a cat tree. A cat tree gives cats a place to climb, hide, and pounce against other cats or their imaginations. One of my cats' favorite uses for our cat tree is chasing each other up and down the tree. They also like to sit on the perches and look out the window. My cats also LOVE to hide using the perches and cat condos. Sometimes they play a version of hide and seek on the cat tree - but they also hide there to avoid having their claws clipped or teeth brushed because there are spots on the cat tree where I can't reach them.

Quiet, private place to be (away from kids and dogs).
Cat sleep for sixteen to eighteen hours a day - thus needing a quiet, out-of-the-way sleeping spot. Many cats are overwhelmed by children, dogs, and other cats in their environment. A cat tree with a cat condo provides cats a way to be out in the open and protected from what frightens them. Also, cats using vertical space can see more of their environment to monitor their environment and threats and ensure that they are not attacked from behind. 



Is a cat tree sufficient for a cat's environmental enrichment?

While a cat tree addresses several outlets for a cat's energy and their instincts (scratching, safety, vertical life) for cats, a cat tree isn't sufficient for enrichment. Yes, having a cat tree is BETTER - but we can easily do better for our cats. To illustrate the issue visually to see the density and status of stimulation in our relative lives:







Is it any wonder cats in homes without enrichment get in trouble finding ways to entertain themselves? The kitchen counter, furniture, the person's stuff all look much more exciting when the cat has no other outlet for his energy. You might be thinking, "But cats sleep sixteen to eighteen hours a day! They have far less leisure time than us humans!" And you'd be wrong. Humans sleep six to eight hours a day - and work for another nine (with lunches and commuting). Add the time we sleep and how long we work; together, the time is almost - if not equal - to the time cats sleep. We have so many commitments that most of us complain about not having the time. But imagine you got home from work and - to fill your remaining hours - had to decide between eating, sleeping, and looking out a window that's dark. Most people would be bored. Don't underestimate what goes on in cats' heads - and what they need. We addressed the myth that cats don't need us here: Do cats need human interaction or are they completely fine on their own?. This goes right along with what we're talking about. You, as the human, are the sum total of a cat's life. Believe it or not, but cats who find ways to entertain themselves end up on our counters, or scratching furniture, or tearing up carpet, or worse. 

Like with relationships between humans, what we put into the relationship with our cats is directly related to what we get out of it. The most important piece of environmental enrichment involves us. At the end of the day, cats WANT a relationship with us more than anything else (see Social interaction, food, scent or toys? A formal assessment of domestic pet and shelter cat (Felis silvestris catus) preferences.) Any way we can find to enhance and strengthen that relationship benefits both cat and human and our efforts to live together with minimal conflict and frustration. I used to play with Bear for a half-hour to an hour a day, admittedly, I never felt so close to him and I actually miss that time even though we still snuggle and connect in other ways.

We did a post years ago on what led me to buy a cat tree for Bear - and the post describes his behavior when bored, and, for a more light-hearted angle, his infamous cat tree rules: 
Meowing Up The Wrong Tree? (& Lots of Pictures)To read more about solutions for feline boredom - in addition to cat trees, please see Are your cats bored? and So your cats are bored. Now what?


Yaheetech Cat tree review

Disclosure: We received the Yaheetech 79" Multi-Level Cat Tree for free in exchange for an honest review. Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat only shares information we believe would be of interest to our readers. The content is ours - Yaheetech is not responsible for the contents of this post.

Yaheetech, a global, leading e-commerce site and cat tree brand since 2003, offers many sizes and configurations of cat trees - as well as many other products. To see all their cat trees, please vi
sit Yaheetech cat trees. We tried the 79" Yaheetech Cat Tree found on Amazon; it includes nine scratching posts, two condos, a basket, a scratcher ramp, hanging rope, three perches, and a heavy base for stability. 



I appreciate that Yaheetech says they believe in a quality product, fast delivery, and the best price. Their cat trees are more reasonably priced than most brands - but what about quality?

I was really excited to try this tree because of how my cats LOVE their other cat tree; sometimes our cats fight over the top perch or the smaller cat condo. I love the darker fabric covering on the Yaheetech cat tree. Especially when Bear struggled with pancreatitis, our other tree acquired obvious stains because of the lighter color covering. My biggest concern was whether my two ... err ... zaftig cats would be too heavy for the cat tree; they both weigh between thirteen and fourteen pounds. In the Amazon description, Yaheetech shares weight load capacity, and my cats are right on the borderline. The basket's weight limit is nine pounds - and I'm not sure my cats would fit in the basket anyway. The weight limit of the perches is fifteen pounds - a little too close to my cats' weight for my comfort. I decided I'd let them determine whether they felt it was sturdy enough for them (with supervision). The condos' limit is twenty-six pounds. 

Speaking of the cat condos, I was befuddled to find the cat condos on this cat tree don't have solid walls. The structures are stable, but the pillars in each cat condo that hold its shape take up room and are hard to negotiate for a cat trying to take a nap. 




Bear couldn't fit in the smaller cat condo - and actually fell off the tree trying to back out of it because there wasn't room to turn around in the condo. Ellie refused to even try to fit - and made the same assessment about the larger condo.


The tree comes with a safety strap, but because of how sturdy the tree seemed and because its final resting place is against a wall and a sturdy entertainment center, I did not bother to attach the strap to the wall.

The tree is attractive and I was really impressed in taking it out of the box.  Encouragingly, right away out of the box, Ellie used the scratcher and batted at the toy hanging from one of the perches.







A note on the dangling toys ... before I screwed in the perches, I removed the toy from both (they are tied on a clip and easy to remove). I've heard of cats accidentally hanging themselves on dangling toys. The instructions on our old cat tree even explicitly said the dangling toys were for decoration - not as toys for the cat. 

Overall, I thought the tree was much harder to put together than it needed to be. The directions were fairly clear, but in trying to screw the pieces together, they didn't catch right away and I had to spend quite a bit of time trying to get the screws securely in the holes. 







Overall, it took me three hours to put the entire tree together. I can't remember exactly, but I think it took me less than half that time to assemble our old cat tree - and it's similar in size to this one. While the cats started out supervising the assembly of the new cat tree, they quickly got bored and wandered off; Ellie decided one of the platforms was comfortable and fell asleep. 



After putting the cat tree together, I had a few concerns.



The top perch isn't as stable as I'd like. In the end, I dropped that concern as I explain later.



But what concerned me far more was that I couldn't figure for the life of me how a cat gets to the third level and the larger cat condo. The second level platform and the third level platform are the exact same size. I would've expected the lower platform to be slightly larger to allow a cat to jump from the second level to the third. Maybe in Bear's youth, he would've jumped the four feet between the floor and the third level - but I wouldn't have felt good about it because of the stress on his joints. Not long after I finished assembling the cat tree, Bear jumped up to the second level to explore. He seemed confused about getting to that third level and gave up. 


For a couple days, I had the tree next to a couch (as seen above) that he could've used to get up there - but he had no desire. I took several pictures of him on the third level when I set him up there - but he can't or won't get up there on his own. He did find one advantage to the cat tree ...



Ellie is a little strange. She seems afraid of heights. It took her eighteen months to venture up to the top of our old cat tree. I wasn't surprised that she didn't want anything to do with climbing this new tree. I WAS surprised that Ellie didn't even use the scratcher on the assembled cat tree. Like with Bear, I set her on the third platform and she looked terrified and jumped off before I could get a decent picture.



I'm confused that neither cat was interested in the cat tree more than a casual exploration. Because neither cat seemed interested in the higher perches, I didn't worry about their stability. If I had to guess, I'd say the cats don't realize there's anything above the second level and they can't fit in the cat condo on the second level. In other words, they are bored with the facilities and see no reason to use them. 

HOWEVER, Bear's taken to sleeping on the floor platform behind the scratcher; I'm guessing he sleeps there because it's not in the open and he has a bit of privacy. But that sole use is a bit disappointing for such an outfitted and fancy tree.



You may find the Yaheetech 79" Multi-Level Cat Tree on Amazon.

For more information on Yaheetech, visit Yaheetech's blogYaheetech's youtube channel, or view all of Yaheetech's cat trees at Yaheetech cat trees.

Yaheetech gives away cat trees on their youtube channel and blog each month. For more details, check out these links:
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSYhpzfgR00
Blog: https://blog.yaheeshop.com/cat-tree-tower/


External Sources of information for this post:

Sources from Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat:

© 2019 Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat - Published by K. Kern. 
All text, pictures, images, and other content are original and copyright by Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat [K. Kern]. No part of my post may be used without my written permission. If you see this post posted on a site that isn't Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat, please contact mommakatandherbearcat@gmail.com. 

42 comments:

  1. That looks pretty darn nice, we'll check it out since we're in the market for a new cat tree!

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    1. It's a great choice if your kitties are closer to 10 pounds than 15.

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  2. We have two cat trees and Lucy and Ringo in particular love them.

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    1. Mine go in spurts. One will love it for a while and then a switch somewhere will flip and they have nothing to do with it. Fascinating!

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  3. Wow, that's a spectacular cat climb! Da Boyz would race up and down, up and down...

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  4. A very thorough review! Sophie and Dexter both take advantage of the very top perches on our cat trees. Olive likes to use the bottom level like Bear. That is weird about the condos having pillars in the middle. I don't think mine would like that. Harley sleeps in a condo almost every day here.

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  5. That is a lovely tree! Maybe they will use it more when they get used to it. Both Eric and Flynn liked to be at the top of theirs.
    I agree with removing any dangling toys. Their first tree when the boys were half grown was very basic, about 4 feet high with a platform on top of a scratching post. It had a furry ball dangling from a cord. I heard Eric meow, something he rarely did and went to see what he was up to.
    The cord had wrapped around his paw and he couldn't free it. Thankfully he was unhurt, just anxious, but I learned my lesson fast!

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    1. How terrifying ... for you and him! I probably would've taken them off anyway. When Bear was younger, he'd chew through string. So he would've chewed through the string and gotten them down anyway!

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  6. Would you believe Mudpie doesn't have a single cat tree? She's dialing the animal abuse hotline as I type this...

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    1. WHAT?!?! Bear really needed one ... when he gets bored, things get interesting. But I don't think Kitty would've used it.

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  7. I said it before and I will repeat it as sincerely as I stated the same thing when you presented a product. This is a thorough examination on any point that a cat parent or cat would be interested in and need to know. You did that before with a presentation and you have served the readers kitties well with this one too. And it's good to know size...Katie is zaftig as am I...though I would not try to get into her condos or tree nests. Usually. :-) That info was very important to know up front as is assembly time and effort. I get out a machine gun and mow 'em down if they get beyond lego toy style assembly. (I am not good at all at assembly). Excellent info and thank you.

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  8. Pawsome cat tree! I can't believe, Bear, that you let Smellie on it.

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    1. I like our old tree. She can smell the new one up as much as she wants! ~Bear Cat

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  9. That is quite a cat tree. Bet the cats love that tree. Don't know if I could put it all together. But it sure looks like fun for the cats. Thanks for that great review. Have a great weekend.

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    1. I had my doubts about putting it together. I got some of the screws mixed up and got to the end with the wrong screw remaining. All's well that ends well though :)

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  10. What a pawsome cat tree ! It looks like tons of fun ! Purrs

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  11. Maybe Bear and Ellie aren't all that interested in the new tree, 'cause they already have a tree that they are satisified with and that they have spent time breaking in. I would sure like to explore that third platform of that tree. I bet I could see Russia from there. Tee hee hee. Luvs.

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    1. If I can see my water bowl AND my litter box from up there, yeah. You can probably see Russia AND China. ~Bear Cat

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  12. Oh and HAPPY HAPPY BLACK CAT DAY, Eliie Mae! Hugs!

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  13. We had different cat trees over the years, and what I hated about almost all of them was all that carpet and the corners that were so hard to clean! Our cats always seemed to lose interest in them as well, but maybe that was my fault for not putting them in the right locations?

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    1. I put our old one out of the way - and it turned into a monster because it's a corner the cats can hide and I really can't get them. They go in spurts of using it - and ignore it the rest of the time. But they'd be upset if I took it away. Before Ellie and The Boy, Bear spent most of his time up there.

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  14. AMARULA: Can't believe she woke you up while you were dreaming of torties! The inhumanity! But say what you will about your dim-witted human, Bear, that scratcher she got your rocks! Finally a palace that reflects your true value!

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    1. It is very masculine, isn't it? Maybe I can plant a tortie flag on the top? ~Bear Cat

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  15. That tree is great, but we do wonder how cats are supposed to get from the second level to the third. We just purchased a senior cat tree, so that Gracie can be on the same level as the sunny window sill. We hope she likes it. :)

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    1. We bet she will! Using the tree to look outside is one of the tree's most enduring uses!

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  16. Great review. We reviewed a similar one recently. Joanie has claimed it for her and Gremmie ( he has a special hiding spot).

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  17. Great review. We think ifin ya' look at the pictures (instructions: that's the only pawrt mommy reads) You'll see that the "bowl" is offset to the side and could be a way to the third level. We looked at this tree, but mommy said there was too many areas that wouldn't hold 30 pound kitties, so we went with the slightly smaller one and are quite happy. Not nearly the issues as this one. And mommy learned quickly, trees with ramps are useless. Those ramps aren't sturdy at all. Hope Bear and Ellie can enjoy their new tree. Big hugs

    Luv ya'

    Dezi and Raena

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    1. Our old tree came with ramps and Momma never installed them :)

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  18. As always, a stellar and in-depth review! Your points about cat enrichment are so spot on and I agree our human interaction plays a key role in our cats' overall enrichment. Oh and I am certain that at some point Bear and Ellie will explore the top tiers. They'l surprise you one day. I always thought Sly Pie was a ground dweller, but one day he ventured up onto the superhighway and was running along like a kitten that found something new!

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    1. They always keep us guessing, don't they? Kitty started mousing at nine years old. Thank you for your compliments - they mean a lot coming from you - the person who got me really interested in environmental enrichment for cats.

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  19. Great review MK, Bear and Ellie, very thorough indeed! That's the exact scratch post we originally asked for but it wasn't available from their UK outlet, so we chose the ceiling height one instead - ours doesn't have the posts like that through the condo's, which we can see isn't great for a larger cat at all. Here's the question, do they use it or are they not bothered/interested at all now it's been up a couple of weeks?

    Purrs and hugs xox

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    1. Bear still sleeps on the floor board - but climbing and the other levels? No.

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