Cat trees make your furry friends happier in many ways. No matter how domesticated they might seem, no cat ever forgets that their ancestors were kings and queens of the jungle. Even the sleepiest Persian or fluffiest Maine Coon has a deep-seated urge to pounce, to prowl, and to climb.
Cats love to perch in high places. It lets them survey their domain, look out for potential predators or prey, and get away from nuisances like other cats, human children, or dogs. Watching the world go by from their crow’s nest, they’re entertained for hours.
If you live in a smaller home, it’s even more important to give your cat spaces where they feel safe and powerful. If your cat can’t prowl back and forth, they’ll want to prowl up and down — and without their own trees, they might climb things you don’t want them on top of.
To help you and your kitty share a small space more comfortably, we’ve gathered reviews of the best cat trees to buy if you live in a small apartment.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Armarkat Faux Fleece||
|Best Value||Go Pet Club Faux Fur||
|Premium Choice||On2Pets Small Square Modern||
|Frisco Faux Fur Gray||
|Trixie Valencia Faux Fleece||
The 7 Best Cat Trees for Small Apartments – Reviews 2021
1. Armarkat Faux Fleece Cat Tree – Best Overall
Our top pick for the best space-efficient cat tree, Armarkat’s sky-blue tower is an intricate, luxurious high-rise of faux fleece. It consists of two fluffy platforms on scratching posts of different heights, with a covered den connected to the top platform. The whole thing is just 29 inches tall, with a 15.5-inch square base. It has a total weight capacity of 20 pounds.
Our first impression of the Armarkat tree was that setup was remarkably simple. Our second was to note how sturdy it is: neither kittens jumping nor dogs bothering was enough to knock it over. It took a full-grown cat to capsize it by leaping from the top.
We love how much cats love this tree. It’s extremely versatile and can be used as a staircase, a window perch, or even a feeding station since most dogs aren’t small or flexible enough to get into the top shelter. The different levels do wonders to satisfy every cat’s urge to climb.
The only complaint we have is about the fleece material. It’s a little flimsy and prone to tearing when attacked. Even when intact, it’s hard to clean, and might cause problems if your cat has bathroom issues.
2. Go Pet Club Faux Fur Cat Tree – Best Value
In the store, cat trees can cause a lot of sticker shock. That’s why we were glad to discover this Go Pet Club cat tree, which is easily the best cat tree for a small apartment for the money.
This faux fur cat tree is 23 inches tall and consists of two beds of different heights and sizes, supported by rope-wrapped scratching posts. The base is small and manageable. With its muted colors, this cat tree will fit cleanly into any interior decor scheme. The wooden structure under the surface is also great at sustaining damage.
The two beds on two levels make this tree a great option for multi-cat households. Being on different planes makes cats happier in their own spaces, and less likely to fight. It’s also low enough that older cats can easily climb to the top perch.
All that said, the Go Pet Cub tree feels cheap in a few places. The rugs could be a lot softer, and the scratching rope tears off quickly. We also would have preferred boards that hold more weight. As it is, they can hold up to scratches and impacts, but not to months of sustained use.
3. On2Pets Small Square Modern Cat Tree – Premium Choice
If you’re able to spend more money on a cat tree, you can get one that resembles an actual tree. The On2Pets Modern Cat Tree provides up to three platforms surrounded by a canopy of artificial leaves, giving your cat or cats as close to an authentic jungle experience as they’ll be able to get indoors.
The tree looks great in your living room, and more importantly, appeals to your cat’s instincts. Remember, perching is about two things: avoiding predators and spotting prey. This tree gives your cat a place where they can do both.
On top of that, it’s easy to put together without tools. The leaves are made of tough plastic your cat’s teeth won’t be able to damage. The small size, which we recommend for a small apartment, has a 22-inch perch that should be enough for most cats.
The downside of the arboreal look is that the central “trunk” isn’t designed for scratching, which might leave your kitty disappointed. It’s also possible to attach the platform improperly and damage the screw-hole in the particleboard, which you’ll have to wait for On2Pets to replace. Finally, beware that the tree occasionally arrives with an unpleasant musty smell.
4. Frisco Faux Fur Cat Tree
The Frisco 28-inch faux fur cat tree has an unusual structure compared to what we’ve seen so far. At 17.5 by 19 inches, its base is about the limit of what you can fit in a studio apartment. The lowest piece of “furniture” is a horizontal scratching post. At 12.5 inches high, there’s a comfy rectangular bed with raised sides.
That’s all cool, but our favorite part has to be the highest level: a cylinder with a side door and open edges, 9.5 inches in diameter, mounted on two scratching posts, and with a toy dangling from each end.
It stops just this side of excessive, but it’s also exactly what cats are looking for: a perfect secret lair, with enough going on to keep them busy for hours. Jumping, pouncing, and napping are all possible within a small space. It’s soft, space-efficient, and affordable.
So what’s the catch? Frisco has great design ideas but cuts corners when it comes to construction. The high platform rests on somewhat shaky supports and can be unstable enough that larger cats shy away. It’s also a bit of a squeeze for most bigger adult cats, especially on the enclosed perch.
5. Trixie Valencia Faux Fleece Cat Tree
Standing at an imposing 27.75 inches, with four different levels to explore, Trixie Valencia’s cat tree is another strong contender for the most cat-friendly tree on the list. However, it breaks with tradition by putting its den at the bottom rather than the top, which goes somewhat against your cat’s natural instincts.
Available in brown and gray, the Trixie Valencia fleece tower includes two scratching posts and one dangling toy. The fabric is soft and welcoming, and cats will have fun jumping from one level to another. It’s intended for all ages and sizes of cats, but in practice, the 11 by 11-inch perches won’t be able to accommodate larger fuzzballs.
This is another fine option for multi-cat households. Theoretically, up to four cats can coexist on it peacefully. One more perk: rope on the scratching posts is very sturdy, and takes a while to come off.
This tree is one of the less-stable products on our list, with a nasty habit of wobbling (though that can be lessened if you place it against a wall). The platforms also tend to wobble independent of the larger structure, so be prepared to regularly re-tighten the screws.
6. PetPals Cat Tree
The PetPals cat activity tower is a larger, more expensive cat tree that nonetheless would fit perfectly into most one-bedroom apartments. It consists of a base with three scratching posts, one supporting a flat platform, the other a saddle-shaped perch. There’s also a hanging toy attached. Another nice touch is the weighted base, which makes this tree less likely to tip over due to overexcited felines.
We thought the cradle would be less appealing than an enclosed den or perch, but when we set the PetPals tree out for real cats, they hopped right in. Even larger cats had no trouble getting up to the cradle and squeezing inside. The difficult part was getting them out.
The scratching rope isn’t the usual braided sisal. In fact, it’s more like paper. As you can imagine, it gets shredded incredibly fast and will wind up all over your apartment. It’s a shame because this tree is complex, but the scratching rope is so incredibly cheap that it’s unacceptable for the price.
The handmade felt isn’t much better, turning out rough and scratchy. We wish we had better news, but it seems the eco-friendly cat tree revolution isn’t going to start with PetPals.
7. Catry Cat Tree Condo
Finally, we come to the bottom of the list with the Catry Cat Tree Condo. Tongue-twister name aside, we’ve got some issues here.
The first problem is obvious just from looking at it: this tree is small. The enclosed “condo” is 8 inches across at the widest, which some kittens from smaller breeds might be able to fit inside, but that’s it. The base is 11 by 17 inches, and the highest platform less than two feet off the ground. We know this list is about cat trees that don’t take up space, but it’s still important that they be usable.
A closer inspection reveals some deeper-seated problems. The whole structure is made of plywood and nailed together with DIY-quality bolts. It’s surrounded by a cover that doesn’t reach the level of carpeting and feels more like canvas. The scratching rope is papery and shreds like nobody’s business.
That’s not to say it’s all bad. The Catry Condo is fairly sturdy on the whole, and cats do still like it — at least the upper platform. Overall, though, this is the one entry on the list we can’t recommend, even if the others aren’t available. Your best friends deserve better.
Now that we’ve shone a spotlight on some of the best cat trees on the market — along with some other not-so-great products — you’re probably wondering exactly what metrics we’ve been using to decide which trees to put above the others.
We’ve talked a lot about “sturdy,” “easy to set up,” “good for multiple cats,” and so forth, but how can you understand those traits and use them to shop more efficiently for a kitty perch?
It’s not so difficult. Keep this list on hand so you always know what traits to look for in a high-quality cat tree.
When your job is making cats happy, writing reviews is always fun. We used the opinions of picky, pampered kitties as our lead criterion for what makes a good cat tree, and they told us unambiguously that Armarkat’s faux fleece cat tree was the winning product.
Having spent a lot of time with it, we agree. The Armarkat tree strikes a delicate balance between space usage, price, comfort, and features. It’s soft, stable, and can turn your entire apartment into a more cat-friendly zone when used as a staircase or feeder.
Go Pet Club’s faux fur cat tree is short, but in all other respects, it’s a close runner-up. If you’re looking for a cheap, aesthetically pleasing piece of furniture that you and your cats can all enjoy, check out Go Pet Club first.
We hope your cats enjoy whichever tree you pick out. Enjoy spending lots of time playing with them on their new perch!
- You might also be interested in: Cat Friendly Alternatives to a Classic Christmas Tree
Featured Image: On2Pets Small Square Modern Cat Tree, Chewy
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 7 Best Cat Trees for Small Apartments – Reviews 2021
- Buyer’s Guide