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The Best Cat Trees for 2024, According to a Veterinarian

Best Cat Trees
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Updated December 26, 2023

Many cats love to be high up, such as on top of the refrigerator or in a cat tree. But it’s not just because they’re surveying the kingdom that you have so kindly provided. Even though cats are predators, they’re also prey. And they know that. High places give cats a sense of safety, and even if there aren’t larger animals roaming around your living room, some cats may not love all of their housemates—feline, canine, or otherwise. Providing your cat(s) with a tree gives them a place to escape but also a place to climb, scratch, and rest.

Whether it’s a place to lounge, a hiding place, or a show of who’s boss, I’m sharing my favorite cat trees to kick off the “Mew” Year.

What to consider when choosing a cat tree

Quality construction

How well a tree is made and what materials it’s made of is a top consideration. Look for trees whose frame is made from wood, plus or minus metal. Unless you’re shopping for small cats, avoid trees that have cardboard as part of their materials.

If multiple cats will be using the tree, potentially at the same time, look at the tree’s weight capacity and also the weight capacity of individual perches. Not all manufacturers provide the latter information. I also like to see perches that have two support posts and not one. For taller cat trees and/or ones with an unstable or unweighted base, opt for trees that come with tip-prevention hardware, like a strap or straps that can be screwed into a wall.

Features

A cat tree should have things that your cat likes. Does your cat like to hide? Look for one more condos as part of the tree. If your cat likes to climb and sit on top of the refrigerator, look for taller trees. If you have a senior cat, look for trees that have a ramp for easier climbing or where the jump to the second level is short.

Though it’s sometimes difficult to accurately tell from the manufacturer’s photos, try to get an idea of how much space there is for a cat (especially a larger one) to maneuver between levels. For ones where it’s hard to tell, look at the 3-star and lower reviews, as I saw multiple complaints for various trees addressing this issue. And if the space between levels is narrow, is it also slippery? For some trees with faux fur and super shiny carpets, I saw reviews mentioning this problem.

Take into consideration what activities your cat prefers. Do they enjoy dangling toys? Some trees have dangling ropes or balls, but if these aren’t the best interactive cat toys for your pet, you can keep one or more of their favorites on the tree or nearby.

Also, what types of scratching surfaces do they like? Do they like horizontal scratching surfaces or vertical ones? Many cat trees have sisal rope, but not all cats enjoy sisal. Some prefer things that shred more readily, like corrugated cardboard (or your couch), and for those cats, you might have to provide a separate scratcher.

Bedding and comfort are other to evaluate. Are the perches padded? If not, can you add a cat bed without creating a slipping hazard? For example, adding a bed with a slick undersurface to a wooden platform could be problematic. And if a cat bed is a part of the tree, is it removable and machine washable?

Dimensions

The height and width of a tree needs to fit into the space you want to put it. And it needs to be something that you (or someone you know) can assemble. You should also see if the dimensions of the condos and perches are big enough for your cat’s (or cats’) size(s), particularly when their stretched-out length is close to, or over, two feet long. And for senior cats, consider what heights they’re capable of jumping.

Price

Price is something to consider not only for the obvious reason but also as a factor over the long run. If you’re replacing cat trees every one to three years, another thing to consider is how much that costs over time. As an Etsy shopper at heart, my suggestion is to at least look into artisan-made trees over mass-made trees if you have the means.

To make my cat tree suggestions accessible to as many people as possible, all but one of my featured selections are from online retailers where pet owners already tend to shop. However, if you’re curious about handmade alternatives (which come with a higher price point, like $200-600+), I include these as well. If a $400 tree is the last one you buy, it could be worth it.

Our top picks for the best cat trees

Best quality cat tree and best modern design cat tree: WLO® Skyline Modern Cat Tree

If I were a cat, I would hang out in this beautiful work of art made by Etsy Star Seller, WLO® Store USA. The Skyline tree blends quality and function while adding elegance to your home. This North Carolina-based 5-star shop has over 5,000 satisfied reviews and more than 24,000 sales since joining Etsy in 2020. They sell a variety of cat trees, so if this one doesn’t suit your taste, other styles are available. One reviewer says, “This is the most beautiful cat tree I’ve ever owned. It’s well crafted, and most importantly, the cats love it!”

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: Standard 62.57 x 21.26 x 67.16 inches, Long 62.57 x 20.56 x 96.65 inches
  • Weight: Standard 55.56 pounds, Long 73.41 pounds
  • Colors: Walnut, Black, Gray, White, Natural
  • Frame material: Certified solid pine and certified marine plywood
  • Covering material: Cushions are hypoallergenic, extra soft fleece, available in ivory, black, and gray
  • Features: Four to six beds, customizable wood and cushion options
  • Price on publish: $298.50 - $448.50

Pros:

  • Easy to assemble
  • Customizable with your pet’s name (up to 16 letters)
  • Replacement cushion covers available
  • Interlocking wood design guarantees stability
  • Sturdy, with a 240 pound weight capacity
  • Lifetime warranty (terms and conditions apply)

Cons:

  • Price point won’t suit some shoppers

The bottom line:

Stunning, functional, and sturdy, this cat tree by WLO® is nice enough to be a focal point in any room.

Best quality cat tree and best modern design cat tree
WLO® Skyline Modern Cat Tree

WLO® Skyline Modern Cat Tree

Best cat tree for large cats: Tucker Murphy Pet™ 60” Farrington Bookshelf Cat Tree

Large cats need a tree that’s sturdy and stable. One thing I noticed with multiple cat trees is that they are 60- to 70-something inches tall, but the footprint of the tree isn’t broad enough to prevent wobbling when a cat jumps on or off. Unless you plan on anchoring these types of trees or securing them to the wall, get one that is shorter.

My honest opinion is that mass-produced trees just aren’t ideal for large cats. They may be fine in the short run (though sometimes they’re not even that), but in the long run, expect to buy another and another. Every single mass-made cat tree I looked at—despite having an overall 4+ or 5-star rating—have issues such as fabric tearing, insufficient perch and condo size, stability concerns, and/or assembly problems (e.g. holes not lining up or even being too big, creating stability issues). When researching cat trees—especially for large cats—don’t just look at the 5-star reviews. Look at the dissatisfied reviews to see if a tree wobbles or doesn’t hold up well.

If you don’t like the bookshelf look of the Farrington, check out the Hey-brother Cat Tree. For an Etsy alternative, I recommend the Esteem Cat Tower by BON Cat Furniture.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 46 x 14.75 x 60 inches
  • Weight: 49 pounds
  • Colors: White
  • Frame material: Manufactured wood
  • Covering material: Carpet
  • Features: Four perches
  • Price on publish: $219.99

Pros:

  • Staggered, carpet-covered platforms make it easier for cats to move between tiers
  • Each of the four perches is 13.93 x 30.90 inches
  • Easy to clean
  • Cats have the option of open perches versus more enclosed

Cons:

  • Weight capacity is only 40 pounds
  • Only comes in one color
  • No cushiony beds

The bottom line:

Finding a good cat tree for larger cats is a challenge but this more modern, bookshelf-style is one to consider if you have one or two large cats.

Best cat tree for large cats
Tucker Murphy Pet™ 60” Farrington Bookshelf Cat Tree

Tucker Murphy Pet™ 60” Farrington Bookshelf Cat Tree

Best cat tree for multiple cats: Go Pet Club 77’’ Cat Tree

As for finding a quality tree for large cats, the same problem of sturdiness poses itself when looking for a tree for multiple cats. I do like, however, that this Go Pet Club’s tree base isn’t as narrow as many others. It also has a variety of lounging and perching options. But keep in mind that in multi-cat households (even with only two cats), some cats may not feel comfortable sharing a tree with their housemate(s), so you may need to get a second tree, possibly more, depending on how many cats you have. Just like food, water, and the litterbox, perching places are a key resource for cats. More on this later.

An Etsy alternative for multiple cats is the Handmade Tree-Inspired Cat Tree by Enchanted Home Designs.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 62 x 35 x 77 inches
  • Weight: 50.62 pounds
  • Colors: Brown/black
  • Frame material: Pressed wood
  • Covering material: Faux fur, sisal rope
  • Features: Condos, perches, baskets
  • Price on publish: $260.28

Pros:

  • Wider base
  • Multiple places to perch or sleep
  • Has a ladder to the second level
  • One dangling mouse toy
  • Reviews state the tree is sturdy (but the top, single pole-supported perch and hammocks aren’t)

Cons:

  • No anti-tipping hardware
  • Total weight capacity not stated, so I would avoid this tree for multiple large cats
  • Multiple reviews say the instructions are confusing and the pieces aren’t labeled
  • Comes with plastic leaves which could be ingested

The bottom line:

If you have multiple, smaller cats that like to hang out together, this tree gives them a variety of options to curl up, perch, or play.

Best cat tree for multiple cats
Go Pet Club 77-Inch Cat Tree, Brown/Black

Go Pet Club 77-Inch Cat Tree, Brown/Black

Best cat tree for kittens: Sandston Multilevel Plush 54” Cat Tree

If you foster kittens, this Wayfair find is a great tree for them to scratch, bat toys, climb, and hide. However, for homes where kittens aren’t being fostered, take into consideration their adult size because cardboard is a part of this tree’s frame material, but exactly where is unknown. On the encouraging side, the description says that the platforms are supported with posts made of wood. One reviewer says, “I've had this cat tree for over a year and LOVE IT. My cats use it all the time and it continues to hold up super well.”

An Etsy alternative is the EDEN Wood Floral Cat Tree Tower by KBS Pets.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 27.5 x 49 x 53.5 inches
  • Weight: 33.02 pounds
  • Colors: Dark Gray, Light Gray
  • Frame material: Manufactured wood, cardboard
  • Covering material: Polyester fabric, sisal rope
  • Features: Five levels, one condo
  • Price on publish: $83.99

Pros:

  • Anti-toppling hardware
  • Best for kittens and small adult cats
  • Multiple dangling toys
  • Weight capacity: 88 pounds
  • Sisal board doubles as a ramp and scratcher
  • Option to assemble the base in an L-shape, which is more stable

Cons:

  • Perches only support 11 pounds each
  • Spot clean only

The bottom line:

This tree can give kittens a place to play, scratch, and crash afterwards.

Best cat tree for kittens
Sandston Multilevel Plush 54” Cat Tree

Sandston Multilevel Plush 54” Cat Tree

Best cat tree for senior cats: 33” Mcelfresh Cat Tree

This smaller cat tree is ideal for senior cats who are more likely to be arthritic. Sometimes signs of arthritis in cats aren't obvious or dramatic, such as hesitating or sitting before jumping or trouble getting their back legs into the litter box. If your older kitty isn’t getting up on higher surfaces like they used to, this smaller Mcelfresh cat tree can still give them somewhere to hide out or sleep.

An Etsy alternative is Live In Ideals’ Rectangular Cat House, which is a 2022 Etsy Design Awards Winner.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 18.9 x 17.5 x 33.8 inches
  • Weight: 24.2 pounds
  • Colors: Dark Gray
  • Frame material: Manufactured wood
  • Covering material: Carpet, faux fur, sisal rope
  • Features: Two condos, one perch
  • Price on publish: $69.99

Pros:

  • Bed is removable and machine washable
  • Option for arthritic seniors to hide in the bottom condo without having to climb
  • Second level is an 11.8” jump
  • Sisal scratch surfaces
  • One dangle toy
  • Weight capacity: 40 pounds

Cons:

  • Multiple reviews state that the directions are terrible
  • Only comes in one color

The bottom line:

Senior cats can snooze in the bottom condo or take the small leap up to the second floor, while their younger housemate might perch at the top.

Best cat tree for senior cats
33” Mcelfresh Cat Tree

33” Mcelfresh Cat Tree

Best cat tree for small spaces: Ouritsu Cat Tree

Cats living in small spaces still need places to perch and this Ouritsu tree can help. Though the medium-height tree isn’t the smallest, it will still accommodate a small living area. (I didn’t opt for the small one because the bed is not even 12 x 12 inches and it’s only supported with one post.) The medium provides a couple of condos to hide in and a decent-sized, plush bed at the top for your cat to snooze in comfort.

If you want a more artisanal option, consider a cat ladder from The Cat Ladder Store. It gives your cat a sturdy place to climb without taking up much space. Another alternative is The Mau Store’s Wooden Cat Tree Condo.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 23.62 x 19.69 x 35.28 inches
  • Weight: 29.75 pounds
  • Colors: Dark Gray, Light Gray
  • Frame material: Engineered wood
  • Covering material: Plush fabric, sisal
  • Features: Two condos, one perch, one basket
  • Price on publish: $59.99

Pros:

  • Top perch is 11.81 x 19.69 inches
  • Anti-tip kit
  • Removable top perch bed but product description doesn’t say if it’s machine washable
  • One dangle toy
  • Several scratching surfaces

Cons:

  • Several reviews say the directions aren’t clear and parts aren’t marked

The bottom line:

If you have a small space, this Ouritsu Cat Tree offers a little bit of everything.

Best cat tree for small spaces
Ouritsu Cat Tree, Large Base Medium-Height Cat Tower, Two Extra Large Cat Condo with Widened Top Perch for Large Cats Indoor, Kitten, Scratching Posts, Ramp and Fluffy Basket, Dark Gray, MF001DG

Ouritsu Cat Tree, Large Base Medium-Height Cat Tower, Two Extra Large Cat Condo with Widened Top Perch for Large Cats Indoor, Kitten, Scratching Posts, Ramp and Fluffy Basket, Dark Gray, MF001DG

Best budget cat tree: Yaheetech 36” Cat Tree

This tree provides vertical surfaces to scratch and also gives your cat the option to hang out in the bottom-level condo or move up to the second one. There’s also a dangle toy on the second floor and a plush bed on the third. Keep in mind that the maximum weight capacity for the perch and the condo is 26.5 pounds

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 19.3 x 18 x 36 inches
  • Weight: 23.26 pounds
  • Colors: Dark Gray, Light Gray, Beige, Black, Pink
  • Frame material: Particle board
  • Covering material: Plush fabric, sisal rope
  • Features: Two condos, one perch
  • Price on publish: $47.99 - $52.99

Pros:

  • Comes with an anti-toppling strap
  • Two scratching posts and a scratching board
  • Dangle toy is removable and replaceable

Cons:

  • Product description states that it’s suitable for two to three small or medium-sized cats

The bottom line:

This Yaheetech cat tree would work for a smaller cat or two while being more budget-friendly than many cat trees.

Best budget cat tree
Yaheetech 36in Cat Tree Cat Tower Cat Condo Play House Climber Stand Furniture w/Scratching Post, Plush Perch, Dangling Ball, Two Condo and Ramp, Suit for Kittens, Cats and Pet

Yaheetech 36in Cat Tree Cat Tower Cat Condo Play House Climber Stand Furniture w/Scratching Post, Plush Perch, Dangling Ball, Two Condo and Ramp, Suit for Kittens, Cats and Pet

Best wall-mounted cat condo: Frisco Hexagon Wall Mounted Cat Shelf

These wall-mounted hexagons are sold as individual units but if you have an adventurous cat and you like the aesthetic of these, consider getting multiple to create a condo effect. For easier access and some exercise, place them at different heights, such as closer to the ground and moving up the wall in an S shape. Or if you place one or more on the wall above your couch, some cats might be able to access them by jumping. Since this cat condo will be wall-mounted and support the weight of your cat, consider using a stud finder to help decide where to safely hang this. Note: Screw-in wall anchors (part of the hanging hardware) work best for loads that don’t exceed 25 pounds, so I personally recommend erring on the side of caution and only using this cat shelf (which is 9.28 pounds) for cats that are 15 pounds or less.

Etsy alternatives are the art gallery-esque, geometric, wall-mounted cat shelves by Like Kittysville. They are stunning!

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 19.7 x 12 x 17 inches
  • Weight: 9.28 pounds
  • Colors: Natural beige/variegated wood pattern
  • Frame material: Manufactured wood
  • Covering material: Sisal mat on top
  • Features: Cat shelf
  • Price on publish: $59.99

Pros:

  • Comes with a removable cushion which is machine washable
  • Weight capacity: 20 pounds (see my note below)
  • Stylish

Cons:

  • Assembly is required
  • Some cats might need wall mounted steps or other means to access these
  • Requires a drill to install

The bottom line:

If you have adventurous cats that are able to access higher-up spaces, this wall-mounted condo would be fun to have, especially in multiples.

Best wall-mounted cat condo
Frisco Hexagon Wall Mounted Cat Shelf

Frisco Hexagon Wall Mounted Cat Shelf

How I selected the best cat tree

Using my personal and professional experience with cats and cat trees, I reviewed the features, materials, dimensions, price, and buyer reviews of dozens and dozens of cat trees online. I selected trees that would be accessible to many and functional while keeping aesthetics in mind.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How do I keep a cat tree clean?

A cat tree can be vacuumed with the hose attachment or by using a handheld vacuum. For in-between surface cleaning, you can also use a lint roller. Spot cleaning with a small amount of soap and water can also be used. Removable bedding should be washed periodically if it’s labeled as machine washable.

How often you do these things will depend on how many cats are using the tree and how often it’s used, but an initial baseline is every two weeks and then adjusting from there based on need.

What are the best materials for a cat tree?

The best material for the frame of a cat tree is wood—preferably solid wood. But if a solid wood tree isn’t doable because of availability or price, there are many cat trees that are constructed from plywood, engineered wood, or particle board. Plywood is the sturdier and more quality option of the three and particle board is the least sturdy. Something you don’t see often is a company that uses certified wood for their cat trees. One of the many things that I love about my first pick by WLO® Store is that they use certified wood, which is wood that comes from sustainably managed forests.

For the frame covering, the best materials are partly what your cat will enjoy, e.g. is the cat bed perch actually cushioned or is it just fluffy fabric over wood? And do they actually like to scratch sisal or do they prefer corrugated cardboard? The best materials are also ones that aren’t slippery, will withstand use, and are convenient to clean. Most trees are covered in faux fur or carpet—plus or minus sisal—which comes from an agave plant.

Lower-quality trees will have inexpensive fabric that tears more easily with use, ropes that become readily unglued, and carpet that sheds more than your cat. If you’re shopping online and can’t examine a tree in person, look at the dissatisfied reviews because some of those may be about how much the material sheds, ripping of fabric early on, or cats slipping when trying to navigate narrow spaces between levels.

Is a cat tree worth it?

For most cats, yes, a cat tree is worth it. Cats need places to withdraw, rest, climb, and if needed, somewhere to escape from housemates, both animal or human. They also need areas to escape from perceived threats that they might hear or see outside. Cat trees also provide a place for your cat to play and get some exercise, which are essential for physical and emotional well being.

Are cats happier with a cat tree?

Though some cats don’t care about trees, many cats are happier with a tree, particularly if they don’t have other high-up places to climb and perch, places to scratch, and safe places to hide. Cats that like to be higher up are often on (your!) chairs, the backs of couches, the kitchen counters, the refrigerator, and/or the windowsill.

Cats don’t always exhibit obvious signs of anxiety or stress, so to bring more awareness to a cat’s environmental needs, The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has established five pillars of a healthy feline environment. These pillars support a cat’s emotional and physical well being and can reduce undesirable behavioral issues like fighting or inappropriate urination.

Though cats are predators, they are also prey for larger animals. Even if your cat lives indoors without other animals, they may consider the area beyond your windows a part of their territory. Seeing or hearing something threatening outside will cause them to want to hide. If your cat lives with other cats and/or dogs, that’s another reason to have a tree (or, dare I say, trees.) Though cats can live in social groups, they need the option to withdraw when they want.

This brings us to AAFP’s first pillar, which is a safe place. One quality of a safe place for cats is an elevated surface, which a tree provides. A safe place also has sides, which the condos on some trees have. Of course, there are other places that are elevated that some cats can reach in a home like the top of the refrigerator, though that doesn’t provide as safe a feel due to the lack of sides.

The second pillar is providing cats with multiple and separate key environmental resources. Key resources are things like food, water, rest areas, litter boxes, toys, and scratching posts. A cat tree provides a place to play, scratch, rest, and hide, so just like that amazing Litter-Robot 4 and premium wet cat food, a cat tree is a key resource. Since cats are territorial and might view housemates as competition, having separately located resources (including more than one place to perch, hide, and play) is important, even among cats who get along. Sometimes you just want to be alone while you relax or eat, and cats are no different.

The last of the five pillars that I’ll cover here is that cats need the opportunity for play and predatory behavior. Though a tree isn’t necessary for that, it can definitely be a part of it. My summary of the first three pillars is quite brief, but you can read about them—and the remaining pillars—in some more detail here or at length here.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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