Why do cats want to be in high places?

Related Articles

Have you ever noticed that cats always want to be high up? Learn why cats like high places and all about cats.

Have you noticed that rooms with vaulted ceilings feel larger? Depending on where you live, the additional vertical space may not count against your home’s square footage or property value, but it does create more space. Whether financially measurable or not, vertical space is valuable real estate for cats. Even if the house is small, it doesn’t necessarily mean the cat will want more space.


because cats can do that.

Humans generally have no problem navigating horizontal spaces, but find vertical spaces difficult. So we have invented things like stairs, ladders, and lifts to overcome these difficulties. Except for elite athletes competing in competitions such as American Ninja Warrior, humans usually do not attempt to climb to the top of mountains without the help of these inventions. But even trained human ninjas are no match for the least active cats.

Cats can climb trees as easily as they can cross a garden. Their claws help, but because they run faster than humans, they are motivated to climb trees much higher than any twisting wall. They can jump up to six times their body length, or about eight feet, in a single jump.

Our cat Maddie likes to hang from the top of the refrigerator. From our point of view, there is no food or toys up there that would attract her. So why does she jump up there? We don’t really know, but when she finds us up there, she gives us the “I can do that” look.

Because the view is nice.

There are seven fire lookouts in the San Bernardino National Forest. My husband Mark and I visited one of them in a mountain community we frequent. Not only is the view from there spectacular, but you can see the entire county, which is important for looking for signs of fire.

Even the cats enjoy the view from on high. This allows them to observe their territory, avoid danger, and see people in their environment, be they prey or predators. Being away from predators gives them the security they need to sleep and eat.

Two cats enjoying the view from a cat tree. Photo by ©Nils Jacobi | Getty Images

Safety is very important,” says Marilyn Krieger, a certified cat behavior consultant in Redwood City, California, and author of Naughty No More! Whether it’s the top of a bookshelf or the top of a cat tree, cats feel safer when they are high up and can look down, she says.

Also, cats are less likely to be ambushed because they can position themselves that way. Cats need a variety of escape routes. In a multi-cat household, having only one way up and one way down can be stressful for cats, so when installing a cat tree, make sure there are multiple ways in and out, Marilyn says.

Cats can see and hear their prey, and they can see the terrain from high up.

Cats are flexible.

Moving between different heights is one way cats communicate their boss. You might be surprised to learn that cats are flexible about this hierarchy.” Marilyn says. It’s a way for cats to keep the peace.

For example, in the morning, cat A is on a high bookshelf and cat B is on a cat tree in another room. In the afternoon, the two cats switch places. Or, if cat A is not feeling well, cat A may rest on a low shelf while cat B is on a bookcase.

From adolescence on, it becomes more important to show them their place in a flexible hierarchy to avoid fights. Especially in multi-cat households, it is important to establish multiple vertical territories, he says.

Cat trees, bookshelves, and self-built shelves satisfy a cat’s ninja instinct to jump and climb. These spaces also allow cats to observe their territory in peace. Climbing and jumping also provides cats with much-needed exercise. No cat house is complete without these vertical spaces for cats to hang out.

By Susan Logan McCracken July 22, 2019

More on this topic



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Popular stories