Cat trees are more than just toys or a place to sleep for a cat, but it actually gives them a host of health benefits. Many cats use height as a means of safety from risks and potential predators (whether that’s other cats, animals, or humans). Trees also give them more places to climb and exercise their bodies and scratch their nails.
There are many choices for cat trees, and finding your cat’s favorite tree is dependent on factors like your space size, your cat’s size and demeanor, and style. We tested seven different trees and preferred the Armarkat – Faux Fleece cat tree as the best large cat tree because it’s well made and is good for multi-cat households and the PAWZ – Road Cat Tree for small spaces because it only takes up 43 x 33 inches and is durable and stylish at the same time.
The height and size of a cat tree need to be specific to your space and your cat’s ability. For example, if you live in a small apartment or room, you may be limited to the height or size of the tree. On the other hand, you might get a shorter tree with a larger platform if you have a senior cat.
Cat trees are typically constructed with a variety of wood (plywood, MDF, engineered wood), cardboard, plastic, fabric, carpet, and natural materials like jute or sisal. Most bases are made of wood covered with soft and fuzzy fabric like felt, carpet, or plush. Many scratcher posts are made of jute or sisal.
You want materials that will prevent the cat tree from wobbling when cats climb. Many of the wooden platforms we tested felt sturdy, but they are heavier to move around. Trees with lighter materials like plastic or cardboard typically are shorter and can have a shorter lifespan than their wooden counterparts.
Aesthetic / shape
When we first started buying cat trees four years ago, we were limited in terms of designs. There were lots of carpeted wood platforms and beige roped scratch poles. These days, there are so many different styles and designs for cat trees available. There are cute cactus-like, sleek, modern, and portable trees.
Toys & additional features
Cat trees have additional features such as toys, slings, and condos to hang out during the day. These extra features help stimulate your kitty, like fluffy balls that hang off ledges or removable springs. In addition, slings or condos are more places for your cat to hide and hang out during the day.
Cat trees range greatly in price. Depending on your desired features, you can find cat trees anywhere as low as $20 to $200 and beyond. While many lower-priced cat trees have a simple construction and are smaller, they may still be great options for cats. Generally, we saw that the higher the price, the larger the tree.
How we selected
Since countless cat trees are available, we tested seven trees of various sizes and heights priced under $160 and featuring different designs. These trees ranged from 23 to 73 inches in height and varied between basic, single platforms to multiple levels and additional toys. They also have different styles, from simple carpeted trees to cactus themed.
How we tested
Many traditional cat trees have similar parts and hardware, like roped rodes or carpeted wooden platforms, so when you assemble one, you can do them all. While assembly isn’t too difficult most of the time, some cat trees come with detailed labels and instructions to make sure cat parents assemble it successfully.
Finally, we compared these newer designs with the traditional cat trees to see how long it took and how much effort it was to put together.
Since all cats are different, we tested seven different cat trees with multiple cats that range in age from 15 to 19 inches (from the head to the base of the tail) and weight from 8.5 to 12 pounds:
Gob: Even though he’s no longer a kitten, four-year-old Gob still loves to hunt and play all day if he could. At 12 pounds and 19 inches in length, he’s a cat on the bigger side but loves to jump up, climb, and scale down any cat tree.
Bounce: This adolescent one-year-old cat is super social and likes to play rambunctiously. He’s got a lot of energy and loves treats. At 10 pounds and 17 inches long, he’s still a growing boy and is quick to jump straight on any counter, platform, or tree.
Marshmellow: Five-year-old Marshmellow is an ex-street cat and loves food. Marshmellow spends her days scanning the vicinity for more food, hugging and kicking scratching posts, and sleeping atop any cat tree safely. She’s 8.5 pounds and 15 inches long, so she’s the smallest of the bunch.
Over one month, the cats scratched, climbed, played, and slept on the cat trees. Did it wobble or stay firm when cats were climbing up and down? Did the platforms fit multiple sizes of cats? Were the cat trees easy to climb? Was the extra accessories and toys worth it?
Armarkat - 72-inch Cat Tree & Condo
At 72 inches tall, the Armarkat – Cat Tree & Condo is a behemoth of a cat tree and takes up 27×24 inches of depth in your household space. It’s made of engineered wood that makes the structure and foundation reasonably heavy to move around but sturdy to keep it from toppling over when cats climb to the top.
This is made up of about four different levels, nine scratchers, a condo, a removable hammock, two rope toys, a ball toy, and two separate beds. With multiple levels, different cats also have the option to physically sit at their cat hierarchies–something we witnessed when testing out this tree between Gob and Marshie. You guessed it, our resident street cat took the top tier easily. There are so many ways to play on this toy, and it’s perfect for a household of multiple cats.
PAWZ - Road Cactus
The PAWZ – Road cactus cat tree is one of our favorite trees because it’s affordable and has a whimsical design. Unlike traditional cat trees typically colored in neutral carpets and jute rope, this tree is modeled after a cactus in green and beige colors.
It’s 43 inches in height and 33 inches in width, making it perfect for small apartments or cat parents who don’t have much room to devote to a larger cat tree. Surprisingly, this was the first cat tree Gob was interested in, and he plopped himself right at the top of the platform. As the biggest cat, he had no problem hanging out on the 13-inch wide bed.Read more…
While the assembly was a bit tricky at first because three different roped polls held up the condo, it was easy to follow the rest of the way and quick to assemble. At just under $50, we think this is a cute steal of a cat tree for someone who has a small space or wants a fun cat tree.
Amazon Basics - Indoor Climbing Cat Tree
Perfect for the minimalist cat parent and their cat, the Amazon Basics – Indoor Climbing cat tree is a no-fuss two-tiered tower. This cat tree is made up of a heavy MDF base and covered with carpet and jute rope for the scratching posts.
It was one of the fastest to assemble and is also one of the smallest trees standing at 31.5 inches tall and 15.7 inches wide. If your cat loves to scratch and kick at posts this is a good option because it’s on the affordable end and has four different scratching posts. The top platform is also an average width of 13.8 inches, making it suitable for small to medium-sized cats.
Catry - Cat Bed with Scratching Post
The Catry – Cat Bed with scratching post is as simple as it gets, but don’t let that generalization fool you because it’s great for larger cats who like to sleep or perch above the floor. While many of the cat trees we tested had beds that averaged about 14 inches wide, this cat bed is 23×15 inches wide and fits large cats like Gob or multiple cats like Marshie and Bounce simultaneously with ample room to spare.
The Catry was the easiest to assemble because it had the least amount of parts. It’s made up of one wide wooden base covered in felt material, a scratching post made of sisal, and a large plush bed. We also love that the bed is removable and washable if it gets too dirty.
Frisco - 52-inch Cat Tree & Condo
The Frisco – Cat Tree & Condo is a medium-sized structure that comes in around 52 inches tall. It’s made up of three levels, a condo, four scratcher posts, one scratcher ramp, and a bed at the top. This is one of the sturdiest trees we’ve tested and is relatively affordable for its size.
Our cats liked that there were different forms of scratchers to use and plenty of space to scratch at the same time. This is an excellent tree for a multi-cat household that doesn’t have too much space for a tree.
Kitty City - Claw Mega Kit 2.0 (not recommended)
Assembling the Kitty City – Claw Mega Kit 2.0 was the most challenging experience when testing all of these cat trees because it’s made with plastic pipes with metal locking connectors on each end. Each joint is connected by pressing down the metal pin, sliding it through a plastic connector, and locking it in. There were 20 joints to connect, and we needed to push at least 40 metal pins in place. Putting together this lightweight cat tree took about an hour due to the number of joints your need to put together, and suffice it to say, our fingers hurt the next day.
While this had a lot of different accessories and features like toy balls, a sherpa bed, and a peek-a-boo condo, we didn’t necessarily love the assembly or the amount of space it took up. It’s also difficult to move because the sisal rope poles are not locked into place. When some of the cats jumped on the top platform, it would wobble and sometimes skid if they jumped too fast. At almost $90, we didn’t think this tree was worth it.
PETEPELA - 5-Tier Floor to Ceiling Cat Tower (not recommended)
Unlike the other cat trees we tested that had a larger base as a foundation for the entire structure, the PETEPELA – 5-Tier Floor to Ceiling cat tower is held in place by an adjustable spring top that connects to the ceiling.
The instructions for this tree were the most detailed because it had sticks on each piece and a detailed instruction manual that tells you where to place the corresponding pieces. With that in mind, if you’re particularly short or have a high ceiling, you may need assistance setting this up. Since our ceilings are about eight and a half feet tall, we only needed the basic spring attachment at the top to reach the ceiling. It does have an extension if your ceiling is taller.Read more…
This cat tree has three scratching posts, three levels, and one bed. Each level is about 15×9 inches, and we found that larger cats like Gob had a more challenging time climbing the tree because the space between each platform was too high, and the levels themselves were much smaller. While the spring at the top was flush and tight to the ceiling, we still found the tower shaky when the cats began to climb. We don’t recommend this singular tower because it was so unstable when our cats tried to climb on top.
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Bryan Vu, Editor
Bryan is our cooking and kitchen expert, with more than 15 years of experience of cooking and testing kitchen products. When outside of the kitchen, he enjoys woodworking, photography, videography and figuring out how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. He thoroughly enjoys discovering the best, whether it’s ingredients or equipment, and finding products that can stand the rigors of daily use.