Why Do Cats Like To Climb To High Places? [5 Reasons]

One of the hardest things for cat owners to accommodate is their cat’s inclination to jump and climb to high places. Whether you love it or hate it, you must manage it appropriately for both your cat’s and household’s well-being.

So why do cats like to climb to high places? There are 5 main reasons your cat will gravitate to high places:

  1. Instinct/Fun
  2. Safety
  3. Increase Territory
  4. Escape
  5. Vantage Point

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Why Do Cats Have The Instinct to Climb?

Like all living things, cats have instincts which drive them to behave in certain ways. Whether you like to admit it or not, your cute fuzzy baby who might be so innocently curled up in your lap right now like mine’s is designed to kill and consume prey.

In other words, they’re designed to hunt and cats are specially engineered to be efficient at it. They have powerful hindquarters and a flexible musculoskeletal system that allows them to jump high the ease.

They also have strong, protractile claws that help them climb up and cling to trees.

This makes sense because most cats prefer to hunt from the trees and get a bird’s eye view of their surroundings. They do not like to be taken by surprise but instead would rather be the ones doing the surprising.

Why Do Cats Like To Climb For Fun?

In the same way that they’re driven to hunt, cat play is designed to sharpen their hunting skills. When you think about it, that is the point of play aside from having a blast.

Professional skiers ski for fun. Professional dancers dance for fun. And professional sharpshooters shoot for fun.

This is why cats also climb for fun. Of course, it is a pain in the butt when they decide to use our window shades or curtains for their tree but that’s what we’re here to help you with 😉

How Do Cats Like To Climb for Saftey?

cat_climbing_structures_why_do_cats_like_to_climb_to_sleepHunting isn’t the only use that trees and high places have for your cat. High places also represent safety because most threats to them are not skilled at climbing or getting into trees.

Now you might think of a threat as something that is aggressively attacking your cat. In this frame of mind, you might not realize threats lurking in your home.

Threats can also include none aggressive, external factors as well. You can think of a ‘threat’ to your cat as something that might just bother it since we are talking about a much less violent space than the wild (lol!).

Threats to your cat could include:

  • other cats
  • other pets like dogs, pigs or other free-roaming animals
  • small children
  • domestic disturbances like typical household disagreements or grievances. Maybe you or someone in your home might become a little emotional about a loss in their family.
  • accessive noise like loud TVs, music, or appliances
  • something new introduced to the home like furniture, a Christmas tree, or anything new that your cat has never encountered before.

The list goes on and on. If your cat perceives something as a ‘threat’ OR is partaking in something that might leave it open to being affected by a ‘threat’ like sleeping, it will take to the heights to find refuge.

How Does Cat Climbing Increase Their Territory?

cat_climbing_structures_cat_furniture_increase_vertical_territoryThis one is particularly interesting because it’s not something that we typically think of as ground-dwelling beings. Since cats typically like to be in the air, they ‘claim it’ as their territory.

Cats, in general, are very territorial. You can think of this sort of like a bi-product of hunting.

They want their designated space to roam, hunt and sleep. Coming from someone as possessive as myself, I totally understand.

Give your cat some space! But even if you live in a small space like an apartment, you can make your space work for you by increasing your cat’s vertical territory.

To do this, you will need to add cat climbing structures like trees, condos, wall-mounted steps and other platforms for your cat to patrol. By doing this, it will also take care of their natural tendency to get a bird’s eye view of their surroundings while staying safe.

By increasing the space your cat has to roam vertically, you increase their perceived space value. In other words, they will feel like they have more space than what your square footage dictates.

If you have multiple cats, this is especially beneficial. It can reduce inter-cat conflicts and make timid or frail cats feel more secure.

Why Do Cats Like To Climb To Escape?

cat_climbing_structures_dog_proof_cat_stationAside from cats, most animals are not equipped for climbing. This means that when a cat is running from an attacker, its best option is to take to the trees.

If you have a dog chasing a cat in your home, you have probably witnessed it escaping by dashing up your curtains!

Assuming the curtain rod doesn’t fall, it usually gets the cat out of reach even if the dog is still down there barking or doing whatever dogs do that chase cats up trees. I’m not really sure actually, lol, my dogs don’t chase cats but I have heard of these sort of situations.

The cat will take to heights because after all, its goal is to get away not eaten alive or even become Fido’s new toy. Taking to the trees is an almost guaranteed way for your cat to be safe even if it’s threat is a clumsy climber.

How Do Cats Climb For The Best Vantage Point?

cat_climbing_structures_why_do_cats_like_to_climb_highAs I’ve touched on multiple times in this article, cats instinctually hunt from the trees. They do not like to be surprised and they always like to have the upper hand on things.

In order to do this, they must obtain the best vantage point in the area, no questions asked.

They will knock down whatever they need to in order to do this, so it is best to create the proper space, especially if you have large cats.

Doing this might be a little bit difficult for older cats but here are some ways we recommend for you in this case.

Now that you know why cats like to climb, its time to catify your home. If you have any questions, comments or other feedback, please leave them in the comments box below.

To get your cat to the heights it needs to be, click the button below to learn more about the best cat climbing structures for your cat no matter what their size or age is.

Click here to learn more about the best cat climbing structures for ALL cats!

See you next time!

~Marlinda

6 thoughts on “Why Do Cats Like To Climb To High Places? [5 Reasons]

  • March 27, 2018 at 3:30 pm
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    Interesting read! I have never owned a cat, but my son keeps pestering about getting a kitty. I love animals, so this is not the problem. I am just so unfamiliar with them and how to take care of them. So I enjoyed reading and learning more! Great information for future reference 🙂

    Reply
    • March 27, 2018 at 5:32 pm
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      Aww, get the guy a kitty :'( lol, just kidding but when the time is right make sure you check your local animal shelters. You can use sites like PetFinder.com or visit your local PetSmart or Petco as they usually work with rescues in the area to find cats homes. At least here in NC they do but there is a serious cat abandonment problem here unfortunately.

      Honestly, I used to hate cats. I never saw myself having one before I started a family of my own. They are really awesome pets to have when you learn how to take care of them. It does take some trial and error but always be open to learn and understand their behavior. 

      I’m actually reading a great book called CatWise that I picked up from my local library. There is tons of information out there and it will be an awesome bonding experience for your family, cat included.

      Hope you get one soon!

      Marlinda

      Reply
  • March 27, 2018 at 10:55 pm
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    I came here because I love anything that is remotely related to cats. My girlfriend and I rescue strays. 

    This past January we were blessed with four kittens. They started climbing at four weeks.

    Also, because we have 25 adult cats, we have a lot of towers and shelves for them to climb on. You’ve given us some great ideas for improving our cat area. Thanks for the cat climbing cheat sheet.

    Reply
    • March 29, 2018 at 1:31 am
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      Hey Gary! That’s awesome!!! One of my goals is to be able to fund rescuing cats with part of my earnings from this and a couple of other cat related sites that I have. Keep up the good work and I’m so honored that you enjoy our content 🙂 

      Reply
  • March 27, 2018 at 11:04 pm
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    I have three cats that are very different. One male is 16 years old and very mellow, one female is 8 yrs old and does not get along really well with the other two, and one Siamese that is almost a year old. 

    I bought him a cat tree and other cat toys when he was a kitten. He played with them for a while and then became uninterested. So I put them away for a couple of months and then bring them back out. 

    That seems to get the curiosity back. The female likes to lay on the shelves in the closets to get away from the males, so she would probably like a higher perch. I found your article very informative and I did not realize how many different cat trees there are available.

    Reply
    • April 3, 2018 at 6:52 pm
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      Hey Ernest!

      Aww, that’s so sweet. Thanks for sharing about your kitties with us. 

      Yes, rotating toys will avoid boredom. Its best to have a variety of toys and cat climbing structures for each of their preferences 🙂 

      The best thing is that you can easily build your own cat trees to customize them to your cat’s specific likes so it will enjoy it a lot better.

      Reply

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