Up High or Hiding in a Nook: Is Your Cat a Tree Dweller or a Bush Dweller?

You go to your shelf to choose a book to read one evening, and there’s a feline librarian on hand to help you choose wisely… or to push the book you want off the shelf. Later, when you sit down to read, two nearly unnoticeable feline eyes peer at you from under the end table. You always knew your two cats were pretty different, but one theory says these kitties would actually be part of two distinct groups.

Tree Dweller vs Bush Dweller

Cat sitting on cat tree next to cubbies

Does your cat like to be high up, surveying their kingdom from the tops of cabinets, book shelves, and cat trees? Or do they prefer to spend their time concealed from view, perhaps under a table, in a cubby, or in a box? Cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy, who has spent a lot of time around felines, calls those in the first group ‘tree dwellers,’ while those in the second group he calls ‘bush dwellers.’ This isn’t a scientific theory by any means, but many cats do fit the descriptions of both. If your cat does, there are certain things you can do to make sure their environment is ideal.

Tips for Tree Dwelling Cats

Tree dwellers prefer to have an aerial view of their home. The higher they can get off the ground, the better. These cats can be found snoozing on cabinet tops, high bookshelves, and on the highest portion of the cat tree. In the wild, cats like leopards meet this description, as they spend their time in trees looking down at the world around them.

Cat perched on a cat tree

Does this sound like your cat? If so, there are some ways you can give your ‘tree’-preferring feline the perfect environment. It’s all about vertical space. Be sure to have some tall cat trees, open space on shelves or the top of your fridge, a cleared off windowsill or window perch, and cat cubes stacked high. If you want to make things even more ideal, add on some cat-friendly wall mounted shelves, ramps, and stairs for your feline friend. All of this will allow your cat the surveillance spots where it feels most comfortable.

Tips for Bush Dwelling Cats

Bush dwellers have a bit more stealth than their tree-loving friends. They prefer to be hidden from view, sometimes due to anxiety or fear. They’re most comfortable in nooks and crannies, under furniture, closed in spaces, and a bed with lots of covers. The bush dweller’s wild counterpart would be something like a bobcat, which prefers to hang out in a den or a bush.

Red tabby cat hiding in paper bag

If your cat seems to fit this description, how can you set up a perfect home? Make sure they have lots of spots under your bed or tables to sneak into, invest in some cat cubes or cat tunnels, and leave your empty delivery boxes around. You could also place a cozy cat bed in one of the places where they like to hide, so they can be even more comfortable.

Make Environmental Changes Gradually

Whichever type of cat you have, make sure that you don’t make a bunch of changes at once if you want to provide more spaces for them. Even slight alterations in a cat’s environment can be a little stressful for our feline friends. If you do add some new spots for your cats, ensure that you don’t accidentally take away one of their favorite hidings spots in the process. These areas provide an important feeling of safety and security.

Cat coming out of cat tree cubby

Once your cat has their ideal environment, though, it will be a big boost for their physical and mental wellbeing.

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