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Why Do Cats Climb Trees?

Cat Care
2 minute read
Cats climb trees for several reasons: first, by climbing trees they can get a better view of their environment. Also, a tree can...
Expert reviewed by:  
Written by:
Susana Bradford
Published on:  
September 7, 2022
Updated on:  
September 7, 2022

There are several reasons why cats climb trees, mostly to do with predatory or defensive tactics. Cats, as predators, like to understand their environment well. As they are small animals, their scope of vision is considerably smaller than the outdoor environment of their yards or neighborhoods. Cats often climb trees to get a better view of their surroundings, to help them see any potential dangers or potential prey.

While cats are predators, they are also vulnerable to attacks from larger animals, such as dogs or even other cats. A tree often provides a safe hiding place, particularly from any annoyed canine that happens to be passing. In the wild, cats climb up trees to give them a resting or napping place that is out of predators’ range. It also helps disguise their presence, which can prevent any prey from noticing that there is a cat in the vicinity.

Sometimes, cats climb trees in response to noticing the inhabitants of upper branches: birds and squirrels. Frequently, a cat will be a little too excited by the possibility of a free-range meal and climb to precarious heights in pursuit of a tasty meal. This situation can result in serious unhappiness for the other animal, the cat, and the owner faced with getting his or her pet down from the top branches of a spruce, so a cat owner may want to consider taking preventative action the moment his or her cat approaches a likely tree.

Some cats may climb trees for fun, on occasion, or possibly to work on improving their climbing abilities. Kittens frequently test out their claw skills by trying to climb up anything and everything, from bookcases to trees to a person's leg. Climbing practice is good for cats; it can improve their strength and flexibility and teach them an important defensive skill. To prevent them from practicing indoor climbing of your furniture, however, owners may wish to purchase a carpeted cat tree for climbing, and feel less guilty warning them away from the sofa.

If a cat has gotten up a tree and cannot get down, the owner may wonder why its remarkable climbing abilities only work in one direction. A cat’s claws curve inward, allowing it to grip onto surfaces while going up head first. Unfortunately, this useful climbing curve does nothing to help the animal get back down again. Eventually, most trapped kitties will either jump out of the tree or realize that they can get down by going tail first, slowly shimmying. Either way, a cat up a tree is usually nothing to panic about unless it is injured or disabled; they are intelligent animals and will figure out how to get down sooner or later.

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Meet the author:
Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.