How tall should a cat tree be?

When I was a new cat mom, I had the same question and decided to speak to experts about choosing the right type of tree and the best height.

I wanted to share what I learned and experienced over the years with you.

Read on to find out everything you need to know.

How Big Should a Cat Tree Be?

cat standing on a cat tree

If you have an adult cat, the tree should be a minimum of 36 inches (3 feet) tall, the average height of a kitchen counter or a sofa.. However, that isn’t the only thing to consider.

Many cats like climbing as high as possible, so getting a tall cat tree sounds like an excellent idea. After all, you want to stop your kitty from jumping on the fridge or the TV. 

Let’s look at ‘how big should a cat tree be’ in more detail.

When it comes to cat trees and scratching posts, there’s no one size that fits all. While there is a minimum height for cat furniture many kitties will enjoy a much taller type of cat tree. 

Many adult cats will also love 5-6 feet tall trees, especially if they come with extras, such as sisal rope for sharpening claws, shelves, and sleeping baskets. 

To understand more about your cat’s fascination with larger cat trees, let’s talk about why cats like heights. 

Why Do Cats Like Heights?

cats sitting on a cat tree

Cats love having access to heights for the same reasons they love cardboard boxes – they make your kitty feel safe and protected from potential predators. 

I noticed with my cat that she was always in the highest part of her tree, regardless of how tall it was. When I first became a cat parent, I didn’t know why, I soon found out she felt the safest there.

As specialists from Killeen Veterinary Clinic say, “a high position for sleeping or resting gives them an aerial advantage for spotting any potential dangers around them.” (1)

Cats also love heights because you’re less likely to disturb your kitty during its nap if you can’t find or reach it. So, don’t be surprised if your cat’s favorite sleeping spot is on the wardrobe. 

And a high vantage position allows your cat to keep an eye for potential prey without being seen and pounce when the target least expects it. 

So, a tall corner cat tree can be the ideal choice for cats that love heights. 

Do Cats Like Tall Trees?

cat tree looking below from her cat tree

Many cats love tall cat trees because they enjoy climbing up to the highest vantage point to observe what’s going on around the household. And they like having such a high hiding spot. 

Jackson Galaxy calls cats that like tall furniture “tree-dwellers.”

He explains, “These cats get their confidence from being up high and seeing what’s going on, preferring to be on a chair or on top of the couch.” (2)

Tall trees also provide more vertical space for your indoor cat to explore. Floor space isn’t always enough for some cat breeds because they’re highly energetic and need a suitable outlet. 

Moreover, climbing is a fun activity for indoor kitties. It allows them to exercise their muscles and satisfies their natural instinct to be observant of their surrounding. 

Still, some cats prefer to keep their paws on the ground and won’t be interested in tall trees or wall shelves. And that’s perfectly normal. This might make you ask can your tree tower be too big?

Can My Cat Tree Be Too Big?

My cats have lots of fun climbing the high apple tree in the garden. But then they have to get down, and not all felines can figure out how to do it safely.

In general, cats can fall from around eight feet without getting hurt. Anything over this height is potentially dangerous. And as you can see from this video, cats do need to be rescued from very high trees.

So, yes. Some cat trees can be too big. They can be dangerous for your kitty, especially if the cat tower has no stable base or construction. 

Interestingly, some cats often suffer more injuries when they fall from 7 story height than over 7, likely because they don’t have enough time to relax their bodies and prepare for the fall. 

So, ‘what size cat tree should I get’ if you are unsure what will suit your pet the best? Let’s take a look.

What Size Cat Tree Should I Get?

As I already said, the minimum height for an adult cat is 36 inches. Such a tree is big enough to be interesting for your cat and may be enough to discourage your feline from climbing the furniture.

Of course, you can purchase any cat condo over three feet if you have enough horizontal space for piece of cat furniture of that size. 

But since the average ceiling height is nine feet, the perfect cat tree would be around 5-6 feet tall – tall enough to entertain your cat and not too high to lead to injuries. 

However, kittens will likely be too afraid to climb down if the object is above 24 inches tall, even real trees. Even if they do, they’ll have problems coming down and may get hurt if they fall.

As vets from PetMD recommends, “To avoid painful falls, wait until a kitten is at least 4 months old before introducing them to your tallest jungle gym.” (3)

So, while a 100 inch cat tree can be perfect for a large cat, cat owners should keep kittens away from such tall furniture.  

Things That Determine How Big Your Cat Tree Should Be? 

Let’s talk about what things you should consider to determine the ideal height of your cat tower or scratch post. 

Available Floor Space

The first thing to consider is how much available floor space you have. Check the cat tree dimensions to ensure its footprint is suitable for your house and that it’s not too high for the ceiling. 

Moreover, some modern cat trees come with attachments, such as rope toys, balls, cat shelves, or baskets that could increase the overall width. 

How Old Your Cat Is

When picking a suitable cat tree, your cat’s age matters greatly. 

As I already said, kittens like to climb but often become afraid if they’re too far from the ground. Small cat towers with a napping spot close to the ground are your best option, just like in this video. 

On the other hand, adult cats need a tree that’s big enough to satisfy their desire for climbing and exploring. 

How Much Your Cat Weighs 

Some cats don’t weigh more than a couple of pounds, while other cat breeds reach up to 20 pounds. So, the tree should be big enough to withstand your cat’s weight and not fall apart. 

What Breed Your Cat Is

Large cat breeds, such as Main Coon, need extra-large cat trees to accommodate their size and weight. Smaller models can lead to accidents and make your big kitty afraid of using cat trees. 

And some cat breeds, such as Bengals, enjoy climbing, so they need something tall to match their high activity levels.  

Your Cat’s Preferences

As I already said, some cats like to be as high as possible, so a tall tree works the best for them. But cats that prefer to stay low to the ground will prefer shorter trees.

Number of Cats 

Not all trees can handle multiple cats because they’re not stable enough to withstand their combined weight. And there won’t be enough space to ensure each cat is comfortable.

So, how many cat trees do I need for 2 cats? For two cats, you should get a cat tree model with at least two levels (ideally three), so each cat can have its own space. 

You should consider purchasing an additional tree or place cat shelves and window perches for more than two cats. 

This brings me to another common question, where should you put the tree?

kitten relaxing on the cat tree in the living room

Where Is the Best Place to Put a Cat Tree? 

While there are many places to put a cat tree, some are better, such as the bedroom, living room, and dining room.

Picking the right location is almost as important as getting the right height because some cats won’t use their cat condos if they’re in the wrong place. Let’s see why these spots fare the best locations.

Bedroom

Many cats like to cuddle with their owners at night, so the bedroom is one of the perfect locations for your cat’s new tower/condo. 

Living Room

The living room is also a great place to put a cat tree. Just ensure your cat has a good view of the windows and can keep an eye on what’s going on in the room. 

Dining Room

Another great location for a cat tree is the dining room, especially if you spend the majority of your time in the dining room.

Cats need to feel part of the family, or they won’t use the tree. So, avoid placing your cat’s scratching posts or cat condo in the garage, the basement, or the laundry room. 

FAQs

CAN I PUT A CAT TREE OUTSIDE?

Yes, you can if you have an enclosed cat patio. Otherwise, other stray or neighbor cats will mark or use the tree, which can discourage your kitty from using it. 

SHOULD A CAT TREE BE IN THE BEDROOM OR LIVING ROOM?

kitten scratching the scratching post

The bedroom and the living room are two of the best places for a cat tree. As long as the tree is in a high-traffic area, your cat won’t mind. 

ARE TALLER CAT TREES BETTER?

Taller trees are a better option for highly-energetic breeds that like to climb and perch. But taller cat trees aren’t suitable for senior cats or kittens. 

Conclusion

How tall should a cat tree be? Consider your cat’s age, size, and breed to determine the right cat tree size for your picky feline. 

I have two different sizes, one for my older, very relaxed cat and a taller tree for my lively 2-year-old kitty.

And don’t take it personally if your cat doesn’t use the luxurious cat tower you’ve bought. Many cats need a bit of time to get used to the new piece of furniture before they attempt to use it. 

cat getting down a tall cat tree

What do you think about this topic? How tall should a cat tree be? Share your experience with us in the comment section. 

Resources: 

  • 1. Why Cats Like to Relax and Sleep Up High | Killeen Vet Clinic [Internet]. www.killeenvetclinic.com. Available from: https://www.killeenvetclinic.com/articles/why-cats-like-to-relax-and-sleep-up-high.html
  • 2. Catifying Your Home For Harmony [Internet]. Jackson Galaxy. 2018. Available from: https://www.jacksongalaxy.com/blog/catifying-your-home-for-harmony/
  • 3. 6 Dangerous Kitten Toys You Should Avoid [Internet]. www.petmd.com. [cited 2022 Jul 20]. Available from: https://www.petmd.com/cat/slideshows/6-dangerous-kitten-toys-you-should-avoid#slide-5
Grigorina S
Grigorina S

I’ve grown up surrounded by animals – dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, and horses and that has shaped me into what I am today – a crazy cat lady who always has a place for one more cat (or a dog). I’ve got two female cats – Kitty and Roni, and two tomcats – Blacky and Shaggy, but I also feed my neighbors’ cats when they come for a visit. I just can’t say no to them.

I discovered that writing is my vocation early in my school years. Since then I’ve taken part in several literature contests – writing horror and fantasy short stories and novellas.
For the past three years, I’ve been an ELS teacher, pouring my heart into showing children and teenagers how important English is for their future and trying to educate them how to treat their pets with care.

Find her on Instagram. Read her latest articles..

Learn more about Grigorina here