Just because a cat gets older doesn’t mean they can’t still have some fun!
And one of the most fun things a cat can do is hang out in a cat tree! But of course, it starts to look a little different as your cat gets older. Just as your cat changes with age, the ideal cat tree should, too.
But what does that mean exactly and what makes a cat tree good for older cats?
It’s all about comfort and accessibility! While a young cat has no problem leaping up to the tallest platform, a senior kitty will want some help making it up there. Older cats may spend more time at the bottom of the tree so extra tunnels, tubes, and cubbies can be valuable there, too. Extra cushions are always great to make sure our older cats are nice and comfortable. Finally, you’ll want to pay close attention to the overall layout of the tree and look for setups with closer platforms that don’t require as large of leaps to go between each one.
We’re going to go into detail on each of these features in the buyer’s guide section along with a mini-review of my 6 favorite cat trees for our senior kitties but if you want to skip ahead you can see my favorites here:
- Best Overall and Budget-Friendly: ZENY 33.5” Cat Tree Tower
- Taller and Multi-Cat Friendly Favorite: YAHEETECH 54″ Cat Tree Cat Tower
- Best For Apartments and Small Spaces: PETMAKER 14″ Cat Condo
- Best For Height-Loving Senior Felines: Go Pet Club 72″ Cat Tree
- Plush Pick: Amolife Heavy Duty 68 Inch Multi-Level Cat Tree
- Most Stylish Cat Tree: On2 Pets Cat Tree with Leaves
Let’s start with a deep dive into our buyer’s guide so you know exactly what to look for!
What Age Is Considered “Older”?
If you found your way here, you probably already have an older kitty. But at what age is a cat considered older or senior?
Just like people, different cats age differently and your cat could be a “young 10 year old” or an “old 7 year old”. Instead of trying to define the exact moment a cat is considered old, it’s probably more effective to think about when they start experiencing age-related changes. According to the folks at Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, “Many cats begin to encounter age-related physical changes between seven and ten years of age, and most do so by the time they are 12.”
That means it’s probably best to at least consider some age-appropriate cat trees for your cat (or at least some modifications) as early as 7 years old. But what are age-related changes and how can they impact your cat?
Why Do Older Cats Need In A Cat Tree?
Just like humans, older cats are more likely to suffer joint problems as they age. While achy joints can be the result of many different conditions, the most common in cats, according to Cornell Veterinary is degenerative joint disease. While an injury or other trauma can speed up this process, typically it’s a result of continued use of a joint that eventually erodes the cartilage between joints. Eventually, the joint becomes a bone-on-bone connection which can be uncomfortable and decrease the activity levels and ability of cats.
But how common really is a degenerative joint disease? According to Cornell Veterinary, “In one study, researchers carefully analyzed X-rays of the spines and limbs of 100 middle-aged or elderly cats (10 years of age or older). The study found that very few of the animals had perfectly normal joints and that most of them had obvious radiographic signs of arthritis. Indeed, the X-rays revealed that 90 percent of cats over the age of 12 showed evidence of degenerative joint disease.”
Additionally, older cats often suffer from age-related muscle wasting, which explains that thin hind end look you so often see in senior kitties. The combination of muscle wasting, joint discomfort, and general age can greatly decrease your cat’s ability and desire to leap up to that top platform like they used to. That’s why it’s important to look for a cat tree that makes sense for older cats.
What To Look For In A Cat Tree For Older Cats?
With the age-related changes that our senior cats will likely experience in mind, let’s consider a few of the features you’ll want to look for in the perfect cat tree for our older feline friends.
The first thing to consider is how far off the ground is the lowest platform. Additionally, we want to look at the height difference between platforms. While it’s okay to have a big gap between platforms if you’re cat is feeling spry that day, you want to make sure that your cat doesn’t have to make a big jump just to enjoy their cat tree.
One of my favorite features for older cats are ramps. While they’re certainly not a standard feature on every cat tree, there are plenty of cat trees with ramps to at least the lower levels and sometimes much higher.
Sometimes cats, especially as they get older, can underestimate their ability to jump. I’ve seen plenty of older cats go through all the prep work of shaking their butt and staring at their target landing point only to undershoot. Usually, this isn’t a big deal since most things in your house aren’t high enough to really injure your cat.
But if you introduce a skyscraper of a cat tree to your home that underestimation can have a bit more dire consequences.
There’s also the issue of cats getting confused or disoriented while sleep on top of their cat tree. This is especially important if your cat significantly older as the ASPCA reports that “It’s estimated that disorientation occurs in at least 40% of cats aged 17 years and older.” This list does feature a mix of tall and short cat trees so you’ll need to evaluate your own cat’s ability.
Tunnels, Cubbies, and More At The Lower Levels
Older cats aren’t always going to want to climb to the top of the cat tree to find the perfect sleeping space. That’s why it’s important to have a cat tree that has tunnels, tubes, or cubbies at the bottom to keep your cat interested.
Older cats are often skinner than their younger selves. Between muscle loss and decreased fat, your older cat would likely appreciate a little more cushion on the cat tree. While the young felines might be just fine sprawled out on that solid wood platform, not only will some extra carpet help your cat stay safe and secure with extra traction it will also be a lot more comfortable.
Before You Buy: Corner or No Corner?
There are two ways of finding the ideal cat tree for your feline friend. The first is to find the perfect tree then decide where you’re doing put it. That’s how I went about it and I think this strategy certainly suggests that I might be squarely in crazy cat guy territory.
The more likely common option is to first find a place in your home then decide what size tree to get. As you check out the list below, keep this location in mind. Some cat trees have a perfect right angle on one side which makes them great for corner placements. Check out our first two options if that sounds like what you’re looking for.
Other options, like our Plush Pick, aren’t corner friendly and end up taking more space.
While this might seem obvious, it can be easy to forget about!
Best Cat Trees for Older Kitties
Now that you’re up to speed on what we’re looking for in terms of the perfect cat tree for our older cats, let’s take a look at my favorites.
Best Overall and Budget-Friendly: ZENY 33.5” Cat Tree Tower
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My pick for the best overall really checks all the boxes when it comes to finding a senior-friendly cat tree. Starting at the bottom, we see a spacious and comfortable cobby so that cats can have a place to call their own even if they don’t feel like climbing or jumping. But to make things even more accessible, there’s a ramp going from the floor to the second level and more cubby holes. From there it’s a short hop up to a very plush cat bed a total of 33.5 inches off the floor.
This is pretty much the Goldilocks of cat trees since it features a little bit of everything we talked about: great ground level features, a ramp for increased accessibility, soft and comfortable fabric all while being tall but not too tall. There are also more than 500 five-star ratings backing this simple cat tree up, which certainly helps.
Finally, it’s also pretty easy on the budget- especially when you compare it to some of the other cat trees on the market. You can check out the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: This simple cat tree has everything we’d want to see for our older kitties but the ramp and super plush bed on top are my favorites.
What I Wish It Had: While you could always make this modification on your own, I’d love the see the ramp be a little less steep to further decrease stress on old kitty joints.
Taller and Multi-Cat Friendly Favorite: YAHEETECH 54″ Cat Tree Cat Tower
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If you’re looking for something similar but a bit taller the Yaheetech 54 inch cat tree makes a great option. Coming in at more than a foot and a half taller than the best overall, this cat tree still features a sisal tree ramp to allow easy access for older cats. From there, each platform is close enough to the next one that most cats won’t have a problem simply walking all the way up to the top.
The platforms are a little tighter than the best overall and senior cats will probably prefer the cubby which is still around 40 inches off the ground. With the extra height and multiple platforms, this cat tree is also great for multi-cat households- especially those of mixed ages. There are plenty of high-flying platforms for young cats to jump on without distributing or disrupting their older roommates.
This cat tree is also very budget-friendly and has almost 600 five-stars reviews behind it. You can read more reviews and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: It includes many of the same features that I love in our best overall but in a taller more stretched-out size that’s great for households with multiple cats even if they aren’t all older.
What I Wish It Had: To make it the perfect senior cat tower, I’d love to see some additional siding to the top platforms. As it stands, two out of the three top platforms are a bit bare.
Best For Apartments and Small Spaces: PETMAKER 14″ Cat Condo
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Okay, so while this might not exactly look like the traditional tall cat tower that we’re used to, it’s still fair to call it a tree…of sorts. Maybe it’s more a cat shrub but for some senior cats living in smaller spaces, that’s all you need.
This little cat tree can easily be squeezed into a corner (ideally with some sunlight) or placed beside your existing furniture. What it lacks in height it makes up for in overall coziness with two heavily covered cubbies that are perfect for extra long cat naps. Still, the overall piece is 14″ tall so it’s still more elevated than being directly on the floor and if your senior cat is feeling spry they can jump on top of the small tower.
They’ve also been able to squeeze in a scratching pad on one side of the tower so the only that’s really missing is the height that you get in other towers. But if you’re living in an apartment you might not want a several-foot tower looming over your studio and your cat might not need it.
As with every cat tree on this list, I’m certainly not the only one that’s happy with it and this little cat condo has more than 300 five-star reviews. You can read some of those reviews and take a look at the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: The design is simple and a little stylish, which combined with the small size makes it a great addition to an apartment or other small space. Depending on your cat’s style, they might actually prefer the expansive cubby over additional height.
What I Wish It Had: I’d love to see more cushion inside the tower to make it extra plush but luckily that’s easily fixed with a few blankets.
Best For Height-Loving Senior Felines: Go Pet Club 72″ Cat Tree
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Just because your cat is older doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy that perfect perch! For some cats, tunnels, tubes, and cubbies just won’t do and they really just want somewhere high to hang out- even if they’re older! As famous cat expert Jackson Galaxy explains, cats usually fall into one of three categories that describe where they feel most comfortable. One of those categories are the tree-dwellers which are cats that “can be found anywhere off of the ground. These cats get their confidence from being up high and seeing what’s going on, preferring to be on a chair or on top of the couch.”
This isn’t going to change as cats get older and if you’ve got a tree-dweller of a feline then you’ll want to get a taller cat tree that’s still friendly to older cats. This 72″ (that’s 6 feet tall) cat tree is certainly tall but with multiple ramps that can take cats almost all the way to the top, it’s still great for senior kitties.
The first ramp goes to one of the two comfortable cubies and from there the second ramp can take cats another couple of feet to a series of closely connected platforms. With multiple cubbies and a whole pile of platforms, there’s enough space for several cats to enjoy- or just one spoiled geriatric feline to feel like a king!
Go Pet Club is actually one of my favorite brands for cat trees and most of their products thousands of reviews behind them. This one is no different and at the time of writing, there were more than 9,500 five-star reviews for this cat tree! The prices on most Go Pet Club products are also surprisingly competitive and this 6-feet cat tree is just as budget-friendly as many smaller options. You can see the latest price and read more on reviews on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: The double ramps and close platforms! This huge cat tree has a ton of accessibility for older cats and allows them to crawl and climb their way to the top instead of having to leap. The price is also very hard to beat especially when you consider just how much cat tree you’re getting.
What I Wish It Had: I’d love to see the first ramp connect to the top of the cubby for next-level access but as it stands, cats still have a lot of options for navigating their way to the top.
Plush Pick: Amolife Heavy Duty 68 Inch Multi-Level Cat Tree
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If you’re looking for a heavy-duty option and are willing to spend a little more for an amazing cat tree then this cat tree from Amolife might be what you’re looking for. You can see in the picture above that there is plenty of room for multiple cats but this cat tree also has some unique features that make it great for older cats.
For starters, it’s pretty darn comfortable! While many cat trees feature bare carpet that’s better suited for scratching than pure comfort the Amolife cat tree features 400g/m plush cloth. That’s more like the kind of cloth you’d find on a plush faux fur blanket or robe rather than a traditional cat tree. If you click through to Amazon, you can zoom in on the pictures to really get a feel for the material but overall it’s good for the sometimes skinny senior kitties. I also love that there are two floating cat beds so that multi-cat households don’t have to fight over the premium sleeping space.
There’s the usual ramp that we like to see to make it easy for senior kitties to crawl into a comfortable cubby without having to jump. I also like the position of the ramp which gives the bottom platform a bit of a cave-like feel that many cats will enjoy. With this many platforms, there are multiple routes for cats to navigate without having to make any big leaps between any two sections.
This cat tree really hits everything we’re looking for in a senior-friendly tree but I’d say the extra thick plush and the overall size is what helps it stand out. It’s not the tallest on this list but it is the widest and features the most cubbies, beds, and platforms.
While it is the premium plush pick, it’s still not going to break the bank- especially when compared to other cat trees on the market. It also has a crazy high ratio of 5-star reviews with more than 1,000 five-star reviews at the time of writing. You can see the current review ratio and check the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: This cat tree features super-comfortable plush material instead of the usual carpet that you’ll find in other trees. That really brings the comfort level of this tree up which can be great for older cats that are often a bit more thinner and could use some extra cushion.
What I Wish It Had: There’s really nothing I’d add or take away from this plush kitty castle!
Most Stylish Cat Tree: On2 Pets 43 Inch Cat Tree with Leaves
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Yep, that’s right- this cat tree has leaves! While it is missing many of the components that we’d want to see in the perfect cat tree for older cats it makes up for it with style. Because it is missing some of our favorite senior kitty features we should consider this more an honorable mention than a core recommendation.
This cat tree gives cats the feeling of being in an actual tree or bush which some cats will go crazy for. It also looks like a real tree and can add some style to your living space. That’s perfect for folks that want to avoid the traditional look of a giant carpet tower in their living room.
But can it work for older cats?
The bottom platform is 15 inches from the floor which can still be reached without your cat having to leap up. You can make things even easier by adding a small ramp or by placing it near something that you can use as a stepping stool. It’s 14″ from one platform to the next and the overall tower reaches a total height of 60 inches.
I also like the modular aspect of this tree that allows you to easily remove the top two platforms to create a cat shrub instead of a cat tree. This can be great for older cats since they may have an easier time judging the height without additional platform and leaves above them.
While this tree does have a ton of style, it’s probably better for middle-aged cats than true seniors. But if your cat is aging but still active then they may not have any problems enjoying this beautiful cat tree. You can read more reviews and see the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: This cat tree breaks the traditional carpet tower style and features pressed wood and faux leaves to give your cat the feeling of actually hanging out in a tree! It also looks pretty cool, too!
What I Wish It Had: It’s missing some of the features we look for in a cat tree for older cats like easy to use ramps and extra-plush sleeping areas.
Should I Add A Ramp?
While the majority of cat trees on this list already feature a list, you might consider adding a ramp to your existing cat tree. If you’re handy, you could consider doing this on your own.
Unfortunately, I’m not exactly a craftsman so that’s out of the picture for me. But there still aren’t a lot of options for quality cat ramps. Some options cost way more than the actual cat tree so they’re generally out of the picture. Your best option is going to be something like this cat scratcher and ramp combo on Amazon. The price is reasonable and while it’s not exactly huge, it does have a 7-inch height to bring your cat that much closer they’re where they’re going.
Cat trees are a great way to improve the quality of life for your feline friend- even if they’re older! Cat trees can also encourage your cat to focus on scratching and climbing on appropriate areas and while these behaviors may decrease as a cat gets older they won’t completely stop since it’s just part of being a cat!
Luckily there are plenty of cat tree options for older cats and it’s not too much trouble to find extra plush sleeping areas, ramps, and easy to access platforms that are perfect for senior kitties! I hope you found the perfect fit for your home and I’d love to hear which one you went with!