A Cat Tree Conundrum: Where To Plant It

Calvin loves his cat treeA tree in our home

In the word of cat trees, ours would be a sequoia — a giant redwood. In a moment of weakness after we brought kittens Dawn and Athena home to live with us, I purchased this behemoth. I think the description online called it a cat condo.

I think it’s more of a town.

Originally, it was placed in our family room; the kittens — who were fast becoming cats — scrambled up and down. They would take turns holding the highest platform: a feline game of king of the hill.

When we remodeled the family room, the tree / condo / town migrated to our finished basement. In the family room, we replaced the tree with cat shelves that didn’t take up so much floor space. The cats would sometimes visit in the basement, but preferred to be upstairs.

After we adopted another set of kittens, Elsa Clair discovered the humongous hangout and could sometimes be found peering from the highest shelf like a panther lounging on a branch, resting before her next hunt.

A cat tree grows while my daughter’s in Brooklyn

Eventually, none of the cats used the tree; it just sat in the dark of the basement, visited only occasionally. Due to reasons that seemed to make sense at the time, but I’m not sure I can adequately remember, I decided to bring the tree upstairs and put it in my daughter’s old bedroom. Recently engaged, she had given me permission to move things around in her room; she only used it when she and her fiance came to visit.

Turns out, there is no really safe place in her room for jumbo cat tree — no place that doesn’t provide easy access to non-cat-proofed areas. Apparently, curtain rods and the area on top of her cabinet — where childhood stuffed animals and Beanie Babies are artfully arranged — are exceptionally attractive to cats. When Corinne and Luke came home after my son and I had painstakingly lugged the awkward and heavy monstrosity upstairs, Corinne gave me that What Were You Thinking look that daughters come preprogrammed with, and said, “And why exactly did you think that was a good idea?”

I guess I thought my cats needs more tall spaces. Maybe I was inspired by Jackson Galaxy and Hauspanther’s ideas for catification. Perhaps it would help all the cats get along just a tiny bit better — if they had more vertical areas to occupy. And we had an awesome and substantial tree that I knew — I knew — would be a hit with the cats if I could just find the right place for it.

Moving on

So I moved it into my office. Which took a huge amount of maneuvering and rearranging until I eventually put it in front of my bookcase.

Which worked until I needed something from the cabinet at the bottom.

By then, Thanksgiving was looming, and visiting family would be staying in rooms all over the house. So I gave up. I moved the cat tree into the hallway, next to our linen cabinet. I relocated my lovely decorative antique cobalt blue bottles from the top, and put a blanket and cat bed in their place.

And that’s where the cat tree has remained.

Location. Location. Location.

It’s a temporary location. It has to be, as Brian and I have to squeeze by in order to get to our bedroom or the guest room that also serves as his office.

But of course now that it’s in an awful location for humans, the cats love it. Particularly Elsa Clair and Calvin.

Elsa Clair flies to the top of it in a vertical leap that looks like she’s running straight up the side. From one of her favorite spots, she swats at the human heads that pass by, or complains when dinner is late. Which, in her not-so-humble opinion, is always.

She also sleeps in the cat bed on top of the cabinet.  A bed intended for cats. A bed designed for cats. Not a pile of bags or a errant sweatshirt or the newspaper I am currently reading. A cat bed.

Elsa Clair always has an unusual perspective on any situation.

Elsa Clair always has an unusual perspective on any situation.

Calvin just likes to relax. Sometimes he stretches out on one of the platforms.

Calvin on top of the cat tree

Calvin, perched.

Other times, he’ll tuck himself away in one of the hidey places — hidey places I might add that no other kitty has ever willingly set foot in during the five years we’ve had the cat tree.

Calvin in one of the hidey spots in our cat tree.

Calvin in one of the hidey spots.

It’s a peaceable — if cramped — kingdom in our hallway. That is, it was until that the day Elsa Clair climbed up her tree and found it occupied.

Elsa Clair has positioned herself so Calvin has to go past her to get down.

Elsa Clair is displeased.

She was not pleased.

And a disgruntled Elsa Clair is not one to be trifled with. She’s a swat first and hiss later kind of dragon cat.

As for Calvin, even though he had the high ground, he knew very well that He Shall Not Pass. At least not until his sharp and pointy sister left.

Calvin knows better than to try and pass Elsa Clair.

Calvin knows better than to try and pass Elsa Clair.

It was best to retreat.

Calvin figures it might be better to step off the tree and on top of the cabinet.

Calvin figures it might be better to step off the tree and on to the top of the cabinet.

He made himself comfortable on top of the cabinet. Where he watched Elsa Clair sharpen her talons. The message was not lost on him.

Even if you don't speak cat, you can tell that this is Elsa Clair's version of, "Go ahead. Make my day."

Even if you don’t speak cat, you can tell that this is Elsa Clair’s version of, “Go ahead. Make my day.” And also, “This is mine. In case you were wondering.”

Lucky for Calvin, it may have been somewhere near dinnertime. The second I took one step in the general direction of the kitchen, Elsa Clair flew off the tree, barely made contact with the floor, leapt down the entire flight of stairs in two bounces and disappeared around the corner.

Calvin followed cautiously.

Where to plant the tree?

Now that the two of them actively use and enjoy the tree — and sleep on top of the cabinet — I find myself in a bit of a conundrum. The hallway was only meant to be a temporary spot for our sequoia-sized cat tree. If I move it, will the cats still use it? Now that they enjoy the Spot On Top of the Cabinet, I’ll need to come up with a replacement path; how could I deny Elsa Clair and Calvin such perfect accommodations?

These are the joys and challenges of living with pets; you don’t start out rearranging your house around them. But somehow, you do it anyway.

How have you arranged your house around your pets?

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8 Comments on "A Cat Tree Conundrum: Where To Plant It"

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  1. Rebekah says:

    I love that top photo. I purchased my home because of my dogs. acreage, walk out basement, etc. Didn’t really have to do much rearranging, only installing a couple of baby gates.

  2. MOL ! That sounds sooooo familiar to Mum ! Purrs

  3. what a great post. never fails the best “cat” location is never the first “people” choice. we hope you can find a new cat spot for them…. they do seem to be enjoying it. :) And that last picture is priceless – the look on Calvin’s face is great

    • We’ll keep trying. I think I have to solve the replacement issue first. And we’re on a bit of a budget now, so I need to be creative. And yes, Calvin understands his sister quite well. You can see it in his face.

  4. Deziz World says:

    What a pawsum twee. We don’t knmow how you kulda moved it away fwum da kitties in da furst place. Mommy always earranges everything fur our benefit. She sez keepin’ us healthy and happy is far more purrtant than her comfurt. MOL Hope you find da right place, altho’ we fink you already did. After all ifin yous squeezin’ by it, it’ll help ya’ noot gain any weight, right? And don’t all women want dat? MOL

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Lexi

    • The cats love the shelves we put up for them in the family room in place of the cat tree. We thought they might like it when we moved it downstairs. Going forward, we’ll find a place for it for everyone. And I’ll make sure they still have access to the top of the cabinet.

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