You may have heard me say this before: Cats are typically either tree-dwellers or bush-dwellers.
Wondering why this is important? How can you tell if your cat is a tree-dweller or bush-dweller? And what are you supposed to do with that information once you figure it out? What the heck are you talking about, Dr. D?
Trees or bushes? Why do we care?
Indoor cats have a unique problem among domesticated animals. Their instinctive nature is not to be confined in a box, but to be free to climb, scratch, hunt, and hide. When we bring a cat into our home, it’s easy to expect them to adapt to our human way of life. Unfortunately, when we don’t provide our feline friends with acceptable outlets for their natural behaviors, they will often act out in negative ways. This can include scratching your favorite chair, attacking other cats in the home, “going” outside the litter box, or getting sick.
If you have a multiple cat household, it is especially important to determine the preferences of each cat and provide them with the corresponding enrichment type. This will not only provide your cats with mental and emotional comfort, but can help prevent many inter-cat conflicts.
Bottom line: A cat with a healthy, mentally enriching environment will be a better and healthier companion.
Okay. So how can I tell if my cat is a tree-dweller or a bush-dweller?
First, read over the following lists while keeping your cats in mind. Does your kitty seem to subscribe to more “tree” or “bush” behaviors?
I’m learning so much! What can I do for my cats now?
Now that you have an idea whether your cat prefers “trees” or “bushes”, here are some things you can do to easily provide your cat’s preferred environment.
- The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a tree-dweller’s space is VERTICAL. Think cat trees with high perches, beds that hang on window sills, a book shelf or floating wall shelf that your cat can access, etc. Find a place up high that your cat can get to, and put a comfy bed or blanket there. Now your tree-dweller can freely survey his domain from on high.
- The number one thing to focus on here is HIDDEN. Bush-dwellers like to hide low to the ground. Think about adding boxes, hutches, covered cat beds or “condos”. Even a cardboard box with a blanket inside can be the perfect “bush”. Placement of the hidey hole is also key – make sure it’s out of the major flow of traffic and that your cat has an easy exit route so they don’t feel trapped.
I’d love to hear what type of kitty you have! Tell me in the comments!