Q & A: Cats on a high

Q: Why do cats love being elevated high up?

A: Instead of seeing our cats as the fluffy companions who wake us in the early hours for food, take a moment to consider their wild heritage and what they would have to adapt to in a situation in the wild. Being high up would provide many advantages: safety is probably the main benefit, but a high vantage point would also allow a cat to spot potential danger as well as potential prey. Raised areas allow a broader view of an environment. For in house-cats, this means being able to see other animals and people in the home, or the lizard scurrying through the grass. Cats are natural observers, rather than participants.

It also means being secure, as a raised position allows a cat to avoid any other animals with whom they may not feel like interacting. It’s important to provide cats with areas where they can gain height. This is especially significant for fearful or anxious cats, or cats who need a getaway from rambunctious dogs or younger cats. Cats can be encouraged to use higher spaces by putting catnip or food in those areas. Scientific evidence suggests that cats prefer raised areas, so whether you’re running a cat shelter, or have cats in your home, make sure they have access to elevated territories.

Katherine Brown, behaviourist

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