Does your cat love to leap up on bookcases, lounge on top of the refrigerator or keep a watchful eye on things from the top of your kitchen cabinets? Or would she rather take in the world from underneath the coffee table or within the cozy confines of a covered cat bed on the floor? If it’s the former, he’s what Jackson Galaxy, the kitty behaviorist made famous by Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell, calls a tree dweller. If it’s the latter, she’s a bush dweller.
The tree dweller can be compared to a leopard, which likes to hang out in tree branches, while the bush dweller has more in common with a bobcat, which makes itself at home in dens.
Your cat’s preference offers a clue about how to arrange his or her environment for ultimum kitty comfort and confidence. To use Galaxy’s language, you want to create a “superhighway” in your home for your tree-dweller cat that provides plenty of vertical space. Like a real superhighway, it should include on and off ramps (think kitty steps, for example), multiple lanes, and rest stops and lookout points.
While there is no shortage of specialized products to make your superhighway, such as wall shelves designed just for cats, you can create your superhighway with strategic placement of your own furnishings. For example, the back of the couch can provide a catwalk and launching pad to a tall bookcase with a cat bed on top, from which kitty could descend by way of another on/off ramp in the form of something like an adjacent chair or table.
Bush dwellers tend to be on the fearful side and want safe, cozy spaces where they can retreat, such as under coffee and end tables. For bush dwellers, think about enclosed cat beds, like a hut, placed next to a coffee table that he can walk under to get to the bed. Cat tunnels and kitty cubbies are other good options to let them get away from it all and avoid stressors and perceived threats.
The point of all this is to accommodate your cat’s instinctual behavioral style so he or she feels secure, comfortable and stress-free. “Catifying” your home also is a great way to maintain harmony in a multicat household. And it lets you provide the best of both worlds for a kitty who has a bit of both the tree dweller and bush dweller in her, like the leopard that climbs trees to lounge and observe, and retreats to caves to breed and eat killed prey.
If you need a little inspiration to map out your superhighway, check out: