Cats climb tables, cabinets, and even trees, too. Whether it’s a kitten finding its way to grip its claw to a tree trunk or a full-grown chilling and loafing 20 feet from the ground, we can’t help but admire their incredible skills. In fact, their climbing skills are so good that their ancestors might be birds, so they might inherit those bird-like abilities, or maybe they were secretly raised by birds. The myth remained unsolved, but here are some pieces of evidence that cats might be birds in disguise.
Cat behaviorist Ingrid Johnson will also be decoding why cats love climbing trees so much, scroll down and read her full answer to the question.
How does a cat climb a tree? Their extendable claws allow them to grip a tree trunk, while their rear legs push themselves upwards. They hold their bodies, with their center of weight close to the tree, in order not to fall backward.
According to Ingrid, the reason why cats climb to a high place can be explained with various explanations. "Height provides comfort and security and the ability to survey a lot of territory from a single vantage point. Climbing a tree or a cat condo for our indoor-only friends provides a sense of safety," she explained.
For indoor and outdoor cats, climbing trees can save their lives, as it is a place they can climb totoo avoid danger.
"Height also creates more usable territory and allows cats to avoid conflict with other cats. So an outdoor cat may climb a tree to escape an attacker (a rival neighborhood cat or a dog!), the same reason an indoor cat might bolt up a cat tree or perch on top of the kitchen cabinets if appropriate climbing places are not provided."
Cats may be intimidating predators, but they aren’t at the top of the food chain, so they can also be prey to upper predators, such as dogs, coyotes, bigger cat species, etc... Being up high means cats feel secured and relaxed and can taunt their predators while being in a safe spot. Unless their pursuers can climb trees, too!
Climbing trees can actually be beneficial to cats. "They condition their claws and muscles by scratching and climbing. We call these 'feel good' behaviors. In fact, many indoor cats never get a chance to condition/hone their back claws because few cat condo companies provide a straight vertical pole to climb."
She continued: "Which is exactly why my husband, Jake and I provide the market with a six-foot, wall-mounted scratch pole. There are virtually none on the market, we have multiples of these in our home and our cats climb them regularly. It is a great way to mimic a tree for an indoor cat. Just always be sure to provide a way for them to get down."
Cats sometimes chase their prey, like a squirrel, chipmunk, or a bird, up a tree. Cats can climb a tree to take a nap, or even hang out with other cats! But aside from all the fun up there, it's not as easy for them to climb down as when they climb up. Ingrid confirmed that cats have more trouble climbing out of trees than climbing upon them.
"Cats are not squirrels," she said. "If you take a look at a cat's nail, it is hook-shaped, made for climbing, but they cannot come straight back down the tree. They would have to come down backward, jump down, or descend using a series of branches like stairs."
A cat can chase its prey, or get away from predators by climbing up very tall trees with little or no low-lying branches. And just like that, they're stuck.
"This is precisely why, when creating vertical space for your cats in your own home, that we are sure to not create dead-end spaces as they can be points of aggression in multi-cat homes and that we also create a way for them to descend, especially if we have provided them with a tall scratch pole."
Cats' physiques are built for climbing. Lots of climbing. They have muscular, strong hind legs and backs and incredible flexibility, so it's no doubt that they'll immediately want to climb as high as they can when they find a tree. Unfortunately, what makes cats great at climbing up trees makes them terrible at coming back down to the ground.
Therefore, to keep your cat safe, it's best to keep them indoors. You can satisfy their climbing needs by purchasing a cat tree or a scratch pole. However, there's no harm in letting them explore the neighborhood from a higher view! Make sure your cat is not frightened, injured, or stuck!