The 10 Best Cat Trees
A Quicky Cat Primer
Once they had cross-bred wild cats for size and domesticated them, they really went cat crazy.
After all, these were the animals that kept the icky ones away from Egyptian homes: poisonous snakes, disease-carrying rodents and the like.
Cats have been domesticated for a really long time, but they haven't lived full-time inside the house for very long at all. So, the history of the cat tree is, frankly, short. You just want to know you can put the thing together and your cat will like it. So instead of going into that, I will give you a little cat history, minus the tree part for now.
Like all relationships humans develop, the human-cat relationship is now and has been for approximately 12,000 years a mutually beneficial one. It all started in the Fertile Crescent (aka the Cradle of Civilization) with the birth of agriculture. This area is the sweet spot between desert and mountains that turned out to be perfect for growing crops. In 1906, a University of Chicago archaeologist named James Henry Breasted named it both for its croissant-like shape that crosses the modern-day borders of Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territory, Turkey and Iran, and, obviously, for its fertile clime.
So it goes that once humans had achieved the feat of planting seeds, nurturing them in the soil, harvesting their mature plants, and storing the resulting grains, opportunistic rodents became a big problem. But as the grain had attracted mice and rats, so the rodents attracted cats. After that, it was a mere 1000 years before the cats of yesteryear developed into the domesticated cat we know today.
The first cat cemetery was discovered in Cyprus, and indicates that cats and humans lived symbiotically as far back as 9500BC. They got there from Egypt, and the ancient Egyptians loved cats, and even walked them on leashes, I gather. And, of course, they mummified them. Don't let the photo accompanying this litte essay freak you out. Those are mummified cats. Egyptians loved to breed and domesticate animals. Once they had cross-bred wild cats for size and domesticated them, they really went cat crazy. They treated them like gods. They made strict laws.
If you killed a cat in ancient Egypt, you were killed in turn, even if it was an accident. And you weren't allowed to export them. After all, these were the animals that kept the icky ones away from Egyptian homes: poisonous snakes, disease-carrying rodents and the like. Soon enough, people started putting out a little food for their little protectors. Then they let them in the house. Then the cats had kittens in the house, and the kittens were brought up around humans.
Cats quickly discovered that humans were rodent-magnets. They followed humans onto ships and crossed the seas with them, first to Rome when Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire (around 31BC), then across Europe, and eventually they arrived in Jamestown, VA and Plymouth, MA with the first settlers. They are, in fact, legit DAR - sons, too.
No one really thought about having cats live indoors, because they were mousers. And they were a little weird about burying their poop. And the smell of cat pee just never really comes out. Plus they need fresh meat to live. It took a combination of 20th century inventions to bring them in for good: refrigeration and kitty litter.
Maybe it's this long gap between when humans discovered that cats were darned useful and when they discovered they could keep them inside without stinking up the joint that has kept the cat's outdoor survival skills in tact.
I Am Cat; Hear Me Purr
"In ancient Rome, cats were worshiped as gods. Cats have not forgotten this." --Terry Pratchett, quoted in Chicken Soup for the Soul : What I Learned from the Cat (2009) by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Amy Newmark.
ME-ow. Yawn. Purrrrr. Kill. Repeat.
As a cat, my days are filled with the best things in life. What are the "best things in life," you ask? Why, stretching out in the sun, furry and supine. Stealing into the back of the closet for a catnap. Perching atop the furniture, feline king of all I survey. Slinking through the backyard, awaiting the occasional bird, or mouse, or lizard, my idiot prey, to stumble into my lair.
I see you, dog, your moron-mouth agape, tongue hanging out, fool head cocked to the side, wondering why you can't be in the CAT-TREE.
But, what is this? The humans have returned. How very droll. What are those two morons up to, anyway? Their excitement has me curious. I shall slink through the window and cast my judgmental eyes upon those hapless beasts.
Wait. A box? The humans have brought home a box. I do ever so love a box. Oh, JOY! I can't wait to jump into that box, and turn around in the box, and then peek out over a box ever so stealthily with my saucerful cat eyes before leaping out and attacking YOUR FOOT, HUMAN!!!!!!!!!
Helleeeew. The humans seem to be assembling something. I shall quietly leap down and, sniper-like, invisible, quiet, deadly, walk through the table legs for a better look. They seem to be putting something together. Carpet? Rope covered poles? What could it be????
The humans have constructed some sort of tree???? But not just a tree... or a table... or a carpet. Because I love tables and carpets. Purrfect for sharpening my claws. No, dear reader, this tree is made for MEEEEEEE. Ow.
They beckon me in with their idiotic kissy-kiss noises -- don't they realize I'm a learned feline, a student of philosophy, having read Kat-eerkagaard and St. Thomas Felinas?
I launch myself upon this so-called CAT TREE and sink my claws into it, sharpening them like Shaolin daggers. I climb atop it. I see you, dog, your moron-mouth agape, tongue hanging out, fool head cocked to the side, wondering why you can't be in the CAT-TREE. Na-na-na-na-na, silly dog!!!!! Cats rule; dogs drool.
I hang from it. I roll around like Caligula on a sea of pillows with a vestal virgin. Then, because I am KING OF THE WORLD, I climb to the very top of this veritable castle and look down upon my vast domain, across a skyline of chairs, tables, humans, and that pitiful dog.
I shout to the heavens: I. AM. CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT!!!!!!!!! Hear me MEOW!!!!!!
Cats Really Do Always Land On Their Feet - Here's Proof
Cats. They have nine lives. Curiosity killed at least one of them. And they always land on their feet. Today, we will prove one of these.
Then, in 1894, he carefully dropped a white cat onto a padded landing while shooting, shooting, shooting.
Actually, that's already been done. And, of course, it was a Frenchman who did it. Etienne-Jules Marey was as curious as a cat, being a scientist, physiologist and chronophotographer, and he just had to know if cats really did always land on their feet, and exactly how they accomplished such a feat.
So he invented this super-cool-looking photographic gun. It shot photos at a rate of 12 exposures per second. Then, in 1894, he carefully dropped a white cat onto a padded landing while shooting, shooting, shooting. Here's the result. So stinkin' cool.
Oh, and he tried the same thing with dogs and chickens. Guess what. They do it, too. Who knew?