Cats are unique and have their own distinct personalities. However, they all share one common characteristic. All cats need their own comfort zone and cat furniture can provide that special place for them.
When deciding on what type of furniture to buy for your cat, take a close look at your cat's personality and lifestyle. Is your cat and indoor cat or an outdoor cat? Does your cat like to be secluded or out in the open? Does your cat prefer heights, or does he or she prefer to be near the ground? Is your cat a climber?
What are your preferences? Do you want the furniture to also provide your cat with activity, or do you simply want to provide them with a place to lounge? Do you care if your cat's furniture blends in with your decor, or is your cat's comfort all that matters? The number of cats in your home will also factor into how large or small your cat tree should be.
If you have an outdoor cat, the amount of activity the cat furniture can provide isn't as big of an issue as it is for indoor only cats. Outdoor cats should be getting plenty of mental stimulation and physical activity during his or her time out of the house. A simple place to lounge or even just a cat bed may be all your outdoor cat needs for their comfort zone.
However, if your cat doesn't leave the house, you may want to find a cat furniture model that can also stimulate your cat with some activity. Look for furniture with sisal covered scratching surfaces as all cats like to scratch. The sisal can be either rope or fabric and the scratching surface can be a board or a post. If your cat likes to climb, a scratching post is preferable to a board and it should be at least 32" high. The sisal post can be integrated into the furniture as a support post or it can be a stand alone, replaceable post. If you have a preference for a piece of furniture that doesn't include scratching surfaces, they can also be purchased as stand alone items. However, you'll probably end up paying more buying them "a la carte".
Be prepared to spend quite a bit of money if your cat likes both heights and seclusion. Several carpeted cat tree manufacturers provide enclosures near the top of the tree. These cat trees are quite large and can be a bit pricey. Large carpeted trees can also provide additional play activity with stuffed cat toys dangling from various tiers. When shopping for this type of tree, take special care to ensure that the base is large enough to prevent the tree from tipping, as they tend to be top heavy.
If the carpeted towers aren't your taste, there are several uncarpeted options from which you can choose. Because these trees are not carpeted, they are constructed from either higher quality, aesthetically pleasing materials or natural tree branches. Uncarpeted tree manufacturers don't use OSB or particle board as their primary material, therefore their material cost is higher than their carpeted counterparts. That is why many of the uncarpeted trees are more expensive than a carpeted tree of similar size. One nice advantage that the uncarpeted trees have to offer is that most manufacturers offer replacement wear surfaces. The wear surfaces are the areas that the cat lounges on or scratches. This can greatly increase the life of the uncarpeted furniture versus the life of their carpeted counterparts.
No matter what type of cat tree you decide to purchase, there are some common issues to be aware of. Make sure the tiers are comfortably spaced for your cat or cats. A vertical tier height spacing from 18" to 22" is ideal for most house cats. It gives them plenty of head clearance when they occupy the lower tier and allows them to place their paws on the higher tier before making the jump up. Pay as much attention to the size of the tiers as the quantity. A tree with large tiers can actually hold as many, or more cats, than a tree with more, but smaller tiers. As mentioned before, a large, stable base is essential.
If the furniture you are interested in buying is constructed with OSB, particle board, or MDF, be sure the material came from a Carb Certified Manufacturer. This ensures the material is free from potential formaldehyde emissions. Also, make sure the adhesives used are free from any dangerous toxins. Finally, make sure that there are no staples used on any of the exposed surfaces.
You may want to check to see if the furniture your are interested in has won any awards or other recognition for quality and innovation. Cat Fancy's Editors' Choice Awards are a good place to start. "The (Cat Fancy) editors are looking for innovative products that reflect quality, creativity and originality, and fill a need in the market. Safety and functionality are essential." The Catnip Newsletter (published by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine) does monthly product reviews, and is another good resource. Catnip does not accept advertising, so their reviews are considered to by 100% unbiased.
There are more cat furniture choices available now than ever before and you can spend as much or as little as you like. Many models cost hundreds of dollars, so make sure to do your research before you decide which cat tower is right for you and your cats. If you have questions or concerns, don't be afraid to call or email the manufacturer.