Vertical Space and Scratching Posts

Cats need a variety of vertical places to rest and places to scratch. Cats like to be up high to monitor their environment and will often seek this out, especially if they are more confident and curious types.

Scratching is also a necessity for cats: it engages their muscles, stretches their body, maintains nails, and marks surfaces. Cat trees with combined high perches and scratching posts will fulfill both purposes, but homes should have other options for scratching and elevated resting, too.

Vertical Space Options

Cat Trees

An easy option for more vertical space in a home is adding a few cat trees. A great cat tree option is the Armarkat Cat Tree.

cats perched on cat tree

The best cat trees have the following features and placement:

  • Tall, 5-7 feet in height and sturdy
  • Have two paths to get onto and down from the tree so multiple cats can access at once without being blocked by another
  • Have sisal rope for scratching
  • Are placed in open areas (not corners) so that cats have access from different directions
  • Are near windows or glass doors with the option to look out on nature (note: if cats get frustrated by an outdoor cat or wildlife, the cat trees should be moved away from windows or doors, especially on ground level)

Cat Perches and Shelves

You can add in shelves mounted under windows (avoid ones that are less stable; those that only stick to windows with suction seem less stable) or cat perches along walls.

Not only do these provide an elevated place to rest, but they are helpful to allow cats to move around the room without having to come across other cats, pets, or people. Pictured below are some examples from online, but they don’t have to be this extensive.

For example, a client added simple shelves along a wall next to a doorway and over the top of the door to increase vertical space in a small apartment. Even better would be to add shelves on both sides of the hutch.

You can also turn an existing end table or empty bookcase shelf into an elevated spot for your cat to rest by adding a cat bed there and locating it where they can survey their surroundings.

Scratching Posts

In addition to cat trees with scratching posts, other posts are also needed. There should be at least as many scratching posts as there are cats in the house.

Cats prefer scratching areas that are made of sisal, vertical, very sturdy, and tall enough for them to stretch out their whole body length! In my opinion, the best is the SmartCat Pioneer Pet Ultimate Scratching Post.

Some cats, especially cats over 14 years of age, prefer horizontal carpet scratchers. These can be made at home with carpet remnants attached to a board or as part of another scratching post.

Kindly provided for Cat Care Clinic by:
Ilona Rodan, DVM, Feline Specialist and Behavior Consultant, Cat Behavior Solutions, CCBC
Julia Pinckney, MSc.
Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare

Madison East Side

Cat Care Clinic - East

1006 E. Washington Ave.

Madison, WI 53703


Directions to East Clinic

Madison West Side

Cat Care Clinic - West

322 Junction Rd.

Madison, WI 53717


Directions to West Clinic
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COVID-19 Care Updates • Modified August 1, 2021