Help my sister buy a cat tree for her chonky cats
January 28, 2021 10:05 AM   Subscribe

My sister's old cat tree has given up. She wants one with a few requirements, some of which are easy to look for and some of which are more difficult. Can you help us find one that is tall, narrow, and good for chonky cats?

It needs to have a sisal scratching post accessible from the floor, needs to be as tall as possible for the climber, and should have a somewhat small footprint so that it can fit in her living room and not be too close to the fireplace. Should not look awful but weird is maybe okay. Cats are older and the one who likes to scratch is a very big boy, so we're looking for sturdy. Suggestions? Price less of an issue than fitting these exact requirements. Current cat tree and approximate location, incl. climbing cat (incl. cat tax - here is the chonker)
posted by jessamyn to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The base has to be big enough so that the tree doesn't sway or move when they go flying into it. Check out the Aruba cat trees. They are local to NH..
posted by Ferrari328 at 10:16 AM on January 28, 2021

We also had good luck with buying the tree we wanted and then buying a larger piece of wood for the base at Home Depot. I covered that just in felt (hot glued) and put a couple little rubber feet on it to allow for space for the bolts of the tree to be secured through the bottom of the wood.
posted by magnetsphere at 10:25 AM on January 28, 2021

Money no object, I'd buy a Contempo Cat elevation (which I lust for but don't own) -- the tension rod makes it so the base is as small as possible-- and a SmartCat scratching post next to it (which I have many of and are the best scratching posts I know of).
posted by foxfirefey at 10:41 AM on January 28, 2021 [5 favorites]

We've had great luck with Armarkat cat trees (specifically this one). Base is nice and sturdy, even when our 10lb+ girls go looney tunes on it. The best part is that they sell individual parts so we can replace platforms etc when they get too worn.

Beyond that, I second the SmartCat post. They're honestly just incredible for cats who like to vertical scratch/stretch.
posted by specialagentwebb at 10:48 AM on January 28, 2021 [5 favorites]

If the post you like doesn't have a sisal post you can pick up some sisal rope from your local hardware store and wrap the posts in it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:50 AM on January 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

We have a Contempocat floor-to-ceiling cat tree and love it. We've added fake vines and some more shelves on the wall next to it.

Here's Penny hanging out on it.
posted by Lexica at 10:54 AM on January 28, 2021 [5 favorites]

Another vote for Armarkat, but I've specifically bought this one twice. It's more sturdy if you put it in the corner - my one cat is big, and it's fine. Lots of sisal and it's tall. It is a little ugly, but unoffensive.
posted by coffeecat at 10:58 AM on January 28, 2021

I made my own cat tree with a tension type design like the Contempo one (I use leveling feet to tension it).

My center post is wrapped in sisal, and the shelves are covered with pieces of IKEA TOFTBO bath mats. Some of the shelves have cat-sized baskets screwed on to them. It was a project but it hasn't fallen over, and the cats love it to the point where Juniper considers it the Designated Snuggle Zone, and only wants to be pet while in the basket. If I'm elsewhere in the house, she will herd me over to it whenever she wants to be pet.

You could certainly modify the Contempo one to have sisal around the middle, by getting a giant spool of sisal and wrapping it around it (put the shelves in first). They have carpeted shelves or you could DIY that too.
posted by aubilenon at 10:59 AM on January 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

We have this one from Amazon and it takes up surprisingly little room for how big it is, I think it is about two square feet as far as floor space. My 40 lb kid climbed up part of it when I wasn't looking and it held her weight just fine. My cat can get up nice and high. Cat Tree
posted by stormygrey at 11:00 AM on January 28, 2021

I have the Armarkat tree coffeecat linked to, and I think it might fit the bill.

My cats tend to rush (climb sounds too mellow to accurately describe what they do) up and down it quite vigorously, and they have only managed to knock it over something like three times in the ~8 years I've been using this model of cat tree.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 11:01 AM on January 28, 2021

Instead of a cat scratching post as a separate item I bought a LURVIG sisal cat scratch mat from Ikea. It wraps around the base newel post of my stairs and is held tightly with sewn-in velcro straps. I've gotten a second one for another set of stairs, and also been able to reverse the sides when they become worn. Plus, they're only $7.99 apiece. It's saved my new couch and doesn't take up any room at all.
posted by citygirl at 11:10 AM on January 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have this comparatively inexpensive one from and our four cats launch themselves to and from the balcony off of the various perches. They haven't managed to do worse than make it sway alarmingly yet, and they've put some effort into it.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:23 AM on January 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

Highly suggest Vesper items from Catit.
Attractive, practical, durable.

TIL "sisal"
posted by firstdaffodils at 1:33 PM on January 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

I used to order cat trees from Amazon every year or two. They were always an ordeal to assemble, and sometimes I encountered limitations that were not obvious from the Amazon description/photos. So I started buying cat trees from the local pet store, instead. They're a bit more expensive, but you also see exactly what you will get. And you don't have to struggle with horrible assembly instructions. With regard to one particularly tall-and-narrow cat tree: I had to put a cinderblock on the bottom platform to stabilize it. Otherwise, it was too prone to getting knocked over. The cinderblock worked perfectly.
posted by alex1965 at 1:41 PM on January 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

We have had this (kind of expensive) one for six years in our smallish apartment and it is holding up fine with our 18+ pound cat.
posted by gudrun at 4:43 PM on January 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Re the sisal: I've bought sisal rope and wrapped it around posts on cat trees, either when the existing sisal got shredded or on top of carpet that got shredded. (I terminate either end of the rope with screws and washers or something like that)
posted by rmd1023 at 8:17 PM on January 28, 2021

I have the same one as restless_nomad. Very stable and sturdy. We removed the bottom ramp to shrink the footprint and my Lena never used it anyway. The stuffed mice got pulled off pretty quickly but otherwise it's as good as new two years in and she still loves playing with the mice, so bonus toys!
posted by platinum at 10:49 PM on January 29, 2021

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