Whether you’re looking for cat trees for large cats or the best cat trees for multiple cats, we’ve got your number. You see, cats aren’t like you and I. In the wild, they scurry through the forest, climb trees, and jump from branch to branch. Our world is horizontal. Theirs is vertical. That’s why every cat deserves some decent climbing space within their home! But some of the simpler cat trees won’t cut it—if you have a large cat, you need a large cat tree! In this post, we’ll give you the low down on how to judge the quality of the different parts of a tree. If you need an extra large cat tree, we’ll show you how to find the best ones – from the sisal to the carpet, it’s all here.
Why Do Cats Like to Scratch?
No, your cat doesn’t have a sadistic side. She isn’t ripping up your couch, carpet, sheets, etc. just to punish you. Many people get so frustrated with their furniture being destroyed by their new, loving cat, that they go ahead and give the poor guy away! Cats have a natural affinity to scratch and if all you are providing them is your carpet and sofa, then they’re going to use those to take care of their needs. You’d probably want to scratch too if your nails looked like this:
So why do cats scratch at everything in sight? A lot of people erroneously believe that they just do so in order to sharpen their claws. While this is part of why cats scratch, it is also an important way that they stretch their arms and back. As they pull at your beautifully appointed couch, their claws are stationary and they are pulling their arms and body backwards. Think of it like yoga for cats—you’d probably want to do a lot of stretching if you slept 18 hours a day too! Just like yoga, scratching also serves to release emotional tension. Your cat may be frustrated, angry, anxious, excited, or happy and he’s able to release those emotions by scratching.
But that isn’t all! Cats are extremely territorial. You’ve probably noticed how your cat goes around rubbing his nose on everything in sight multiple times a day. Well, scratching is an extension of this behavior. Your cat is leaving smells and, in the case of scratching, sights that let other animals know that it’s your cats house. In fact, your cat’s paw is even leaving a smell behind too! A cat’s paw pad has scent glands that leave behind his mark.
Takeaway: Let cats be cats and let them scratch! It is an important way for them to relieve stress, mark their territory, and groom
Training Your Cat to Scratch a Cat Tree
Of course, it doesn’t matter if you make custom cat furniture or are simply looking for a cat tree for your Maine coon, you have to train your cat to use his tree instead of your expensive curtains. Your cat needs to want to use that tree!
Put the tree in a strategic location. Just because you bought a tree doesn’t mean your cat is going to love it right away. If you find that your cat isn’t engaging with the tree, put it in a new location. One strategy is to remove something he is used to sleeping on and replace it with the tree. He’s already accustomed to going to that location to rest and play, so he’s more likely to use the tree there.
Once your cat starts to get on the tree, give him as much affection as possible. Pet him and play with him while he’s on it. Put your cat on the tree and bring his favorite toys to him. Give him a good 10 minutes of play once or twice day while he’s on the tree. This type of rewarding system will get him to associate the tree with your love and soon he won’t ever want to stop playing on it!
And of course, we all know that cats love food and cat nip! Create a trail of treats that goes up the tree. There’s no way he’ll avoid playing on it once you do that. If your cat loves cat nip, sprinkle some on different parts of the cat tree, especially parts he has been neglecting.
Take away: choose a great location for the tree, give you cat play and affection when he’s in it, and incentivize with food and cat nip
Sisal vs. Carpet
Remember that cat scratching is almost a reflexive trait in cats. In nature, cats go around scratching trees and bark instead of your sofa. That’s a big reason why they’re called cat trees in the first place! If you start by thinking that your cat needs something very similar to tree bark to scratch on, you can better understand what the best material for your cat scratcher is. And since you’re looking for cat trees for large cats, you know you’ll need something extra strong for those massive claws!
Cats love sisal and every cat tree should have its fair share. If you are buying a scratching post only, then it should be made of sisal and not carpet. Sisal is a kind of rope made from a cactus-like tree and is 100% natural, unlike many varieties of carpet. Cats love it because it has a rough texture that they can easily use to dig their claws in deep. Its rough texture is also the perfect material for cats to rub their bodies against.
Carpet, just like the one that your cat has been digging up in your home, is also another option. Carpet isn’t the most ideal material and most people go with that option because it is cheaper. It is important that you check on the quality and type of the carpet. Most cat furniture today is covered with faux fur, faux fleece, and carpet. The “faux” materials are durable and easy to clean and your cat probably won’t know the difference. Carpet is softer and heavier. If you’re going to choose carpet make sure that it is not looped (“open”). Looped carpet (also called “berber”), will get torn apart extremely easily. This is especially important if you are looking for the best cat trees for large cats. Large cats are strong. They will destroy the loops and the carpet will fray like crazy! Another word to the wise: be careful with carpeting—your cat may not easily distinguish between your fancy Persian rug and his designated carpet area. Teaching him the difference could add some extra training work.
Takeaway: Cats love sisal the most, but if you’re going to get carpet, use non-looped carpet or faux fur
The Best Cat Trees for Large Cats
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of cat trees, it’s time to get to the fun part! Picking one out high quality cat trees for large cats! There are lots of manufacturers to choose from and prices can range enormously. We created a simple table below so you can do some comparing. You’ll notice that there’s a huge difference in pricing for some trees. Some of the trees are massive, yet cost under $100, while some are smaller, yet cost over $200! Just remember that just because two cat trees look similar doesn’t mean that they are. Higher quality carpeting, more durable sisal, and heavier materials that keep the cat tree sturdy will all create a higher price point. If you buy lower quality cat trees for large cats, you’re likely to end up buying the same product over and over. In the end, you’ll pay more buying low quality trees multiple times than you will with a high quality tree once. Also, be aware that if you live in a small apartment, some of these cat trees may be too big. Check out a separate resource for small apartment cat trees
There are lots of really good cat trees for large cats out there, but it is especially important to pay attention to the quality of materials because your large cats are going to tear anything delicate apart. Go with high quality sisal, non-looped carpet, and a heavier product to get the most out of your purchase.