As a cat owner, we bet you've found yours in the most unlikely of places, usually up on the refrigerator or bookshelf, teetering on a window sill or meowing loudly from the most precarious branch in a tree. So, why is it that a cat will choose the highest place he can possibly find when there are so many safer and more obvious spots in and around your house?
Why Do Cats Feel Safe Up High?
The answer is quite simple. It's what cats do. Even way back then, when they looked more like a mongoose than a cat, the Proailurus, roamed the earth, stalking its prey from tree branches.
You see, 25 million or so years ago, the first cats weren't the primary predators we know today, like lions and tigers. Instead, they ate small reptiles and rodents that were easier to spot from way up high.
And because they were no bigger than our domesticated cats today, they would use these high, largely inaccessible places to hide from bigger, more ferocious predators.
5 More Reasons Why Cats Like High Places
1. High places offer a better vantage point
Cats are hard-wired to hunt and hide. And what better place to do both than up high? When a cat's elevated, he can see more of his surroundings and keep an eye out for potential threats. Being in a tree, on a rocky outcrop, or on top of the refrigerator, he has a better chance of spotting an intruder long before he's seen. This gives him enough time to figure out whether he needs to run, hide, or attack.
2. Being up high is a cat's way of showing off its status
In a multi-cat home, an older or higher-ranking cat will usually choose a spot higher up to show off his standing in the group. This hierarchy is understood and respected by everyone, and often when there's tension brewing, the 'king of the jungle' will find an elevated spot. This act alone can stop a fight breaking out.
3. It keeps cats out of harm's way
Wild cats climb as high as possible to get away from predators, while domestic cats do it to get away from pesky dogs and small children. A cat in a home with other pets and children will use these high spots to get away from the hustle and bustle. It's their way of telling you they need some alone time.
4. It’s a cat’s safe place
Because it's the only spot in the house your cat can reach, it doesn't smell like anyone, or anything other than, you guessed it, a cat. Scents and smell play an essential role in a cat's life. They're able to recognize things and even communicate. Couches, chairs, cushions, and pillows will smell like other pets and people, while your cat's favorite elevated spot will only have his or other cats' scent. It's a safe place, not only in terms of being out of the way, but it's also reassuring.
5. Because… they can
The last, and probably most important reason, cats like being up high is because they can. Unlike the rest of us, cats are particularly agile when it comes to racing up trees and can jump as high as 8ft. As far as your cat's concerned, he's got super-hero powers and he's going to use them.
Kittens and younger cats can climb up to their favorite spot whenever they want, but what about older cats or those that are less mobile? Well, they like being up high too, but it's not as easy for them. If you have a senior cat in the home, make sure you have pet stairs, or invest in a hammock or cat tree that's not as high. Just because they're old, it doesn't mean they've forgotten how to be a cat.