why do cats need to perch up highDoes your cat seem to be obsessed with high places? Do they like to jump up on top of the refrigerator? Is their favorite pastime knocking your things off of the highest shelf in the room? Do they try to climb up your macrame plant hangers?

Cats are instinctual creatures, and climbing is one of those things that just comes naturally. Picture a panther lounging on a tree branch…your cat has the same urge to perch up high. Being up off the ground makes them feel safe and fulfills several very basic needs. Here’s why cats need perches.

Understanding Cat Behavior: Five Reasons Why Cats Need Perches

1. Curiosity

Have you ever noticed that your cat immediately sniffs your shoes or your bag after you come home? Cats need to know what is going on around them, even when they live indoors. The more they can see, hear, and smell, the happier they will be

Observing their surroundings from an elevated perch provides cats with mental stimulation and helps satisfy their natural curiosity. If your cat has a favorite window, that’s the perfect place for a perch. They’ll be able to keep an eye on the squirrels and then take a nap in the sunshine.

2. Hunting

Climbing is an instinctual cat behavior that serves multiple purposes. In the wild, cats use trees to survey the area and observe any small animals they want to hunt. They also climb trees to pursue prey like squirrels and birds. Indoor cats engage in the same type of hunting behavior when they play. 

But most importantly for house cats, climbing gives them an opportunity to exercise their claws. Scratching and climbing help cats keep their nails from getting too long. Tall cat trees give them a place to dig in their claws and get a full-body stretch, as well as a place to hide so they can pounce on their favorite toy mouse.

3. Security

Cats are expert hunters, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be preyed upon themselves. Their ancestors learned how to avoid larger predators by climbing up into trees, and they passed that instinct on.

Cats need a secure space to retreat to, where they know they can sleep undisturbed. Since they feel safe when they’re up high, a partially enclosed perch is the perfect place for a deep, refreshing catnap. 

Your cat might even like to eat up high—especially if there are dogs in the house. They might feel safer if their food and water are up on a table or countertop. Giving your cat safe perches where they can eat and sleep will help prevent stress and anxiety.

4. Dominance

If there are other pets in the family, perches are even more important. Some cats can get quite territorial. By climbing up high, they’re asserting their dominance and reminding the other pets not to mess with them.

Alpha cats like to have a perch where they can take in all the action—a wall perch where they can see the most trafficked areas of the house would be ideal. Then they can hover high above everyone else like the adorable little gargoyles they are.

5. Exercise

Climbing is a workout, and it helps keep your cat healthy. Cats need daily exercise to keep their joints and muscles in good shape. And when they can get exercise by doing something that comes naturally, like climbing up to a high perch, they’re more likely to stay fit.

When cats don’t get enough exercise, they can suffer from obesity, which leads to health problems. Overweight cats are more likely to develop chronic diseases like diabetes and arthritis. But giving your cat something to climb will help them maintain a healthy weight.

“Top-Shelf” Cat Care in Gilbert, Arizona

At Anasazi Animal Clinic we love cats, and we treat our patients like our own pets—only the best will do! If you have questions about your cat’s behavior, please ask us at your next visit. We love talking about cats as much as we love caring for them. 

To make an appointment for a wellness exam, just call 480-497-0505 or send us a message online today.


Photo by Dmitriy Zub on Unsplash used with permission under the Creative Commons license for commercial use 8/16/2023.