Friday, November 28, 2014

Guest post: Why Cats Need to Climb

by Kosin Huang

As an avid viewer of Cesar Milan's Dog Whisperer, it was natural that I started enjoying a show called My Cat from Hell. The show features folks going through difficult issues with their feline family members and a "cat whisperer" in the form of tattooed hipster, Jackson Galaxy coming to the rescue. I started seeing some patterns in how Jackson would address each kitty's problems and ultimately, resolve the matter at hand. Just like Cesar Milan has his prescription of "exercise, discipline, then affection" for dogs,  I noticed that Jackson was always recommending cats get their own space to navigate and climb high up around the house. This means a route for the cat to feel safe to go from perch to cat tree, bookshelf to mantle, for example.

If you have a cat at home, just observe your cat and you will notice that he or she is usually in an elevated position. Whether sleeping or just hanging out, cats prefer to be high up off the ground. Being able to climb is paramount to a cat feeling safe, because in the wild, cats must be able to climb in order to escape predators. It's a cat's survival instinct that prompts it to find perches up high.

The more vertical areas you offer your cat, the more territory it has. It gives your cat a sense of security and is even more important in multi-cat households to reduce conflict between your feline friends. Providing opportunities for a cat to navigate a complete route around the house from high up, such as from bookcase to fireplace to cabinet will go a long way towards decreasing anxiety and other behavioral issues.

So next time your cat is climbing furniture, don't shoo him or her away. Instead, clear some space for your cat to climb and everyone will be happier!

To learn more, see:

High Places: Satisfy Natural Instinct - Drs Foster and Smith

Catch My Cat from Hell on Animal Planet and check out other tips here.


Kosin Huang is a board member and development committee chair for Berkeley Humane. She lives in the East Bay with her husband, daughter, and a rescue mutt named Spartacus.

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