Play Structures for Cats

by Ellen Goodlett, Demand Media
    "A springy object!"

    "A springy object!"

    Cats love playing with toys and investigating hiding spots, as anyone who's found Tiger crawling through the sock drawer can attest. Combine his two loves by finding him the perfect play structure to explore. Your cat-hair-free clothes and claw-mark-free drapes will thank you later.

    Elements

    The ideal feline play structure jibes with the sort of activities your cat particularly enjoys. If he likes to explore and squeeze himself into tight spots, something with a lot of tunnels, boxes or enclosed cubbies might be your best fit. If chasing toys is your cat's favorite pastime, look for a structure with dangling feathers, balls or strings. You can also find cat wheels for kitties who love to run, tall towers and wall-mounted structures for the climbers, and of course, scratching areas in all shapes and sizes.

    Materials

    Most play structures consist of a sturdy wooden or metal base overlaid with a scratchable material. Carpet provides a soft covering for the perches of the cat tree, where your cat can explore or lounge. Sisal rope, a hemp-like material, typically covers any vertical posts on the structure. Since sisal is stronger than carpet but softer than wood or bark, it provides an ideal material for cats to scratch. It lasts longer than carpet, too. Test a small sisal scratching post to see if your cat likes the feel of the material before you purchase a whole play structure covered in it.
    Other options for the "scratching" areas on your cat's new playground include thick carpeting, real bark or wood, or corrugated cardboard. If you go the cardboard route, you will need to replace the scratching area every so often.

    Outdoor Play Areas

    Whether your cat wanders the neighborhood freely or remains confined to your backyard, adding feline-friendly features to your garden will liven up your kitty's day. Simple wooden posts are easy to make and fun for your cat to scratch and climb. Check that any wood you use around your cat is treated with pet-friendly preservatives. If you want Whiskers to get some fresh air, but you're concerned about letting him roam through your whole yard, an enclosed playpen may work. You can find small portable net enclosures for sunbathing on the grass, or larger wood-and-mesh pens if you're looking for a more permanent playground.

    Saving Space

    If you live in a small apartment or don’t have much space available, you can still find an appropriate cat tree for your living situation. An over-the-door cat tree, which attaches to a standard door, can provide a lot of climbing space. You can also look into wall-mounted stairs, tunnels and perches to save on floor space.

    About the Author

    Ellen Goodlett has been a writer since 1999. Her work has been published in the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" and "Nimbus" magazine. Goodlett holds a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and languages from Bryn Mawr College.

    Photo Credits

    • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images