How to Get Cat to Use Cat Tree?

Have you recently bought a new cat tree, put it together, just to found out that your cat likes the cardboard box it came in better? Maybe your cat is ignoring or even is afraid of the new cat tree. You are thinking, oh no, what a waste of money. If you are wondering how to get your cat to use their cat tree, this article is for you. In this article, you will learn how to get your cat to use their new cat tree.

Black and white kitten climbing a cat tree
A cat tree is a great way for your cat to exercise

How do you attract a cat to a cat tree?

We remember that one time when we bought a new cat tree. Our cat (we had only one at that time, now we have three ) just sniffed it a few times and then turned around with no interest.

Shortly after that, she started to spend a lot more time on it. Not only sleeping on the top perch (there was a cat bed up there), but also scratching her claws and sitting contently on it as she observed her kingdom. It was a huge difference in cat behavior since it was fun and comfortable. We could tell our cat felt secure because our then two-year-old daughter went over to the cat tree and hugged her. Our cat didn’t move, she just enjoyed the hugs and kisses.

How do you get your cat to like the cat tree?

You may be wondering if cats like cat trees? The answer is they love to climb. Why? Cats are natural climbers. If an indoor cat does not enjoy lying on a cat tree, there must be something that prevents them from doing so. There are a few things that prevent your cat from liking their cat tree, scratching post, or cat tower that you just got.

  • Stress and fear. Cats are naturally curious animals. Yet they also can be too stressed to let their curiosity loose. Your cat may be afraid of the cat tree itself or from objects that are nearby to it.
  • Location. The cat tree is not in a good location. The location of the cat tree is more important than its properties. Cat need cat trees not only for napping but also for the ability to observe their surroundings.
  • Wrong size. If the cat tree is too tall, your indoor cat may ignore it. This is because there is a reason that your cat cannot jump on the cat tree. If your cat is still a kitten, is an older cat, a large cat, or in medical pain, they may not be able to jump on the cat tree.
  • Multiple cats. If you have more than one cat, make sure your kitty is not afraid to use the cat tree because of territorial issues.

For your cat to use their cat tree without question, you as the loving cat owner must address anything from the above list that you can.

Two cats charing a cat tree friendly
Cats can share a cat tree, it is possible.

Where should you place a cat tree?

If you placed your cat tree in a distant room which cat never uses anyway, move it. A cat tree must be in a location that is easily accessible to your cat. If your cat sleeps on a couch in the living room, the best place for the cat tree is next to the couch in the living room. Okay putting a cat tree in the middle of your living room may seem extreme, but at least put the cat tree in the room that your cat spends the most time in.

If the cat tree is inside a niche, move it out. Your cat needs to see what’s going on in the room and the areas nearby. Ideally the best place for it is where your cat can observe all the entrances of the room.

You can also move the cat tree next to a window if your cat enjoys an outdoor view. Note that some cats may be afraid of the outdoors or the scary squirrel that is outside. So, if your cat is afraid of the outdoors, then to make it more attractive to them, move the cat tree away from the window or cover the blinds. At least initially until your cat gets comfortable with the location.

Additionally, make sure that things that your cat is afraid of are not nearby. These are noise making machines like the vacuum cleaner, washing machine, and others. Our cat was afraid of our Christmas tree. We put her new cat tree next to it and sure enough, she avoided it.

There are other things to consider. For example, a cat tree can be placed in front of things your cat scratches but shouldn’t be to prevent further damage. In such a scenario, a cat tree works best if used together with a smaller scratch post and scratch pads as well. You can learn more about places to put cat trees and scratching posts here.

Additionally, to correct placement, ensure that your cat can access the cat tree.

We mentioned that if your feline friend is injured, older,or still a kitten, they may have trouble jumping up on to the cat tree. You can solve the problem by adding a step in between the floor and the lowest perch. Either place a cat tree near furniture, install an additional cat shelf, or place a sturdy box next to the cat tree.

Also if you have more than one cat, a particular individual may not dare or want to climb on a cat tree in a specific location, especially if it’s already claimed by one of your other cats.

This does depend on your cats. Cats are solitary animals in the wild. Your furry friends may coexist on the same cat tree easily. Especially if the more dominant cat can take the top perch. Some cats however, won’t be happy to share a cat tree. You have to make a judgment by what you observe.

This may lead to the necessity of having more than one cat tree placed in different locations of your home. Of course if your cats get along well and don’t mind being in the small space of a cat tree all together. On the other hand, even cats who are friendly to each other will benefit from cat tree availability in alternating locations. Even a single cat household will benefit from it. Remember that your feline friend loves options.

Cat lying on a cat tree
Make the cat tree as attractive as possible.

How do you get your cat to stay in your cat tree?

Now that you have solved the placement and accessibility issues, it’s likely that your cat already uses the cat tree. If your kitty is still reluctant, there are several ways to encourage them.

1. Place some food on the floor next to a cat tree. Allow your cat to eat them, pet and praise them, and let them see that their new piece of cat furniture does not pose them harm. If your cat is not afraid of the cat tree, most likely you will not have to repeat this step. However, if your cat is enduring some form of stress, you may want to repeat this several times with a break between training sessions.

Instead of food, you can also use playing near the cat tree to make it more attractive. There must be a toy that your cat loves, so initiate play in a location that is safe (in your cat’s opinion) and move closer and closer. Let the passion of the game help eliminate your cat’s hesitation.

2. Place some food on the lower shelves of the cat tree, once your cat eats comfortably next to it. You may show the treats to your cat beforehand and scratch the surface of the perch with your fingers to get your pet’s attention. Alternatively, you can leave it for your kitty to discover on its own.

In place of treats, you can also use a play session. Slide your cat’s favorite toy along the floor, place it on the cat tree, and try to hide it in the cat tree so your cat loses sight of it. This will raise their curiosity and they will likely go after it.

If they are still afraid, play as you usually would in the same room. Try sliding their favorite toy over the lower part of the cat tree occasionally and return to regular playing instantly. At some point, your cat will jump on the cat tree after the toy. Praise them lavishly. Depending on their stress level, continue playing on the cat tree or get back on the floor.

3. After your cat has learned to accept lower shelves, it probably won’t be challenging to encourage further explorations. You will allow your cat to investigate more of his new piece of cat furniture gradually if you apply the same approach each step forward. The important part is to be patient. Any attempts to force acceptance can create the opposite effect. If your cat is afraid to explore the cat tree, placing them on it forcefully will only increase their fear.

How do cats know cat trees are for them?

One of the most useful things to understand is why cats love heights is that it provides them protection. It’s true in nature and it’s true for the household environment. Of course, there are no predatory threats to your four legged fur baby in your home. At the same time, cats can be scared of dogs, kids, other pets and other cats as well.

It doesn’t need to be something obvious, like a kid pulling a cat by its tail, or a dog chewing chasing them. Sometimes just the presence of a possible threat may encourage your cat to take some steps of action. For example, as your dog enters the room, a cat may feel it’s safer to climb the cat tree. No further action on your part is needed.

However, it will only work if you ensure that any possible predator (in your cats eyes) will not reach them on the cat tree. For example, with dogs or small kids, you’ll want to make sure the cat tree is located so the dog or the kid are not able to reach the top shelf. Alternatively you can place it in a room where the dog or kids do not enter often.

If your kids are older (this includes your spouse, parents, and grandparents), you may ask them not to bother your cat when they are lounging on the cat tree. Make sure that everyone (including you) sticks to this agreement.

A cat tree must feel like a safe heaven in the eyes of your cat. If you think about it, isn’t that the reason you got the cat tree in the first place?

Now that you know the answer to the question of how to get cat to use cat tree, you can provide a safe haven and fun way to exercise for your cat or cats.

This way you will be happy and your cat will be happy. And keeping your Pet happy is what we all want.

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