why won't my cat use his cat tree

Why Won’t My Cat Use His Cat Tree?

You’ve recently bought a new cat tree, proudly assembled it, and presented it to your cat. But your cat just sniffed at it and ambled away without showing any interest. But why? How can your cat ignore the cat tree you’ve spent hours buying and constructing for him? 

And how can you piece together your broken heart after your cat just rejected your greatest (and frankly expensive) gift for him?

The question, “why won’t my cat use his cat tree?” has, at one point, been on the minds of many cat owners. You’re not alone, so don’t lose hope! You don’t have to throw your cat tree away or get him another one, especially if it’s your cat’s first time. 

In this article, we’ll list all the possible reasons why your cat won’t use his tree, and how to get him to use it. 

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Reasons Why Your Cat Won’t Use His Cat Tree

Cats are natural climbers, so a cat tree should be every cat’s dream. If your indoor cat doesn’t enjoy the cat tree you’ve bought for him, there must be a reason as to why that is. 

Your Cat May Be Timid 

Cats are curious little animals, but your cat may be a bit shy to let his curiosity run loose. Even fairly confident cats can become cautious around new environments and things. Perhaps your cat is afraid of the cat tree itself, or from the objects hanging nearby. 

If your cat is unsure of the tree, remove any objects that can be causing your cat to be scared or timid. Once your cat becomes comfortable with the new furniture, you can move the items back in their original spot.

Your Cat May Be Bored With It 

If you already own a cat tree and noticed that your cat suddenly stopped using it, he may simply be bored with it. 

Cats love anything new to them. If your cat tree stands in one spot for too long, your cat may no longer find it interesting. As a result, he starts sitting in a place that’s far away from the tree, just for a change in scenery. 

Your Cat Tree Doesn’t Feel Stable or Comfortable Enough

Just like us humans, cats don’t particularly like sitting in an unstable place. If the tree is wobbly, it’s difficult for cats to trust it. It’s not as hard as you think to make a cat tree more stable.

The same goes for comfort. If the cat tree feels itchy, too small, or too hard, your cat won’t use it. If this is the case, make sure you place extra bedding to encourage playing, napping, and/or lounging. 

There May Be an Underlying Health Issue 

Cats with joint and mobility problems won’t be able to physically use and enjoy their cat trees. 

For old cats, you can add step-in stairs between the floor and the lowest perch. This will allow him to walk through it without having to jump or use too much physical strength to climb. 

You can also install the tree near furniture, add an additional shelf in the tree, or place a sturdy box nearby to aid your old cat to get on the cat tree. 

Your Cat May Not Like Where Your Tree Is Located

Other than the quality of a cat tree, the location in which the tree is positioned is important as well, especially if it’s your first time getting a cat tree for your cat.  

Cats use cat trees not only for napping and playing, but also to watch over their territory (your house) and its subjects (you and your family).

So if your cat likes to hang around people, it’s best to place the tree in a location where you spend a lot of time. Your living room, hallway, kitchen, or your bedroom, for instance. Just make sure it’s installed in a spacious room. 

A place with nearby windows is suitable as well. This will allow him to watch the birds or passersby in the street. Note that this may be too drafty during the winter. You should avoid that position unless the heating system can properly cover it. 

Cat Territorial Issues

If you own more than one cat, one of them may be afraid to use the tree due to territorial issues: Other cats may prevent him from using the tree, or worse, bully your cat into not using it at all! Make sure to address this immediately if it happens so all your cats can live in harmony together. 

How to Get Your Cat to Love His Cat Tree

Here are some steps you can follow to get your cat to use and love his cat tree.

Step 1: Choose Your Location Carefully 

One of the reasons why your cat may not use his cat tree is because he doesn’t like where it’s placed. Here are some tips and recommendations on where to best place your cat tree: 

Every Cat Has a Favorite Room

Be it the living room, kitchen, near a window, or even in the hallway, you’ll need to put your tree in a place where your cat likes to spend most of his time. 

If you have more than one cat with two different favorite locations, it may be a smart idea to buy two separate cat trees if you have enough budget and space. This would be especially helpful if your cats don’t seem to get along that well. 

Cats Like Being Around People

Although cats aren’t as social as dogs, they generally do like being around people. Cats are a part of the family, so it makes sense that your cat wants to know what his humans are doing on a daily basis. 

However, there’s one exception. If you have little ones or teenagers, your house may be extremely loud, your cat may enjoy using the furniture if it’s a more secluded space in the house or at least out of the way of all the traffic. But don’t make it too hidden, like the garage or laundry room for example, as cats do like having a full view of their family. 

Step 2: Gentle Persuasion 

Some cats are timid and may take a bit longer to accept something new. Just like teaching him new tricks, your cat will learn to love and use his tree more with lots of praise and reassurance.

Cats respond to praises well, especially when coupled with petting and affection! 

Pet your cat whenever he climbs onto his cat tree, and play with him once he’s there. This will allow your cat to create a positive association between him and the cat tree. 

When your cat isn’t sitting on the tree, don’t pay too much attention to him if he sits back in his old resting place. He’ll soon understand that the tree is where he’ll get the most attention, and will slowly start using it more frequently. 

Eventually, of course, you’ll be able to change this routine. Just until your cat learns to love his tree! 

Step 3: Use Kitty Treats, Toys, and Catnip

Cats love their toys and treats. And as such, your cat’s interest may increase once he realizes that the cat tree is where all his toys and treats are located. You can also hang new toys such as feathery birds, squeaky toys, and pom-poms to grab his attention. 

Furthermore, you can sprinkle catnip on the various levels of the cat tree, including the cubby holes. Soon enough, your cat will think, “huh, it’s pretty nice up here!” and start using the tree more and more. 

Final Thoughts 

When your cat doesn’t immediately use the cat tree you’ve bought him, it can be both disappointing and frustrating, especially if you paid a lot for it.

Cats are simple creatures; they’re easy to please and don’t demand much. 

So if you closely follow the steps above, he’ll soon learn to love the mini kitty Disney World you’ve bought for him! 

But remember, don’t punish your cat or force him to do anything he doesn’t want. This may make him hate the cat tree even more. It all comes down to where you place your tree, patience, and a lot of treats. Good luck!