To a human, vertical space may not seem like a big deal, but to a cat, it’s the other half of their world. Cats value vertical space almost as much as we value the size of a floor plan. Because of their size and athletic ability, cats can easily vault up to positions on a perch, a couch, a bookshelf, or even a special cat perch! As a result, many are quite comfortable being up high.
Some experts theorize there are two types of cats; bush dwellers and tree dwellers (for more information, check out our previous article on the subject). Bush dwellers like to stay low to the ground as that’s where they are most comfortable, while tree dwellers like to be up high. These are both natural instincts a cat may experience, but regardless of where their favourite place to be is, they will always jump up high for a better vantage point out a window, to get closer to your eyeline, or for any number of other reasons.
Staying in Control
So why do they do this? For one, cats like to be in control and having a bird’s eye view allows them to see everything that’s going on around them. Cats have a unique sense of sight, and while they aren’t great at identifying things at a major distance, they have excellent vision within a few feet of their eyes. This vision can go a lot further when a cat is up high, letting them look down upon the ground – covering far more surface area.
Predator’s Ideal Point of View
Another major reason cats like spending so much time up high is because they are natural predators. It gives them a better vantage point to survey their surroundings and locate prey. Being a predator, they like to be able to see potential prey or danger from a distance, allowing them a chance to escape or rush down in an instant and either dash up to them or get away quickly.
Cats are also inherently curious animals and sitting up high lets them drink it all in like a fly on a wall. Sitting up high and watching the world go by is something that cats savour. They like to people watch just as much as people do, maybe more!
The Warmth of the Sun
Lastly, cats enjoy the warmth of the sun almost more than anything else. As a cat owner, you know what we are talking about. How often have you seen your cat basking in the sunlight, and then following it as it moves across the floor? Cats love the feeling of the sun beating down on them and being up high gives them access to more sunlight.
Cats are instinctually driven to spend time up high and as a result, we must embrace it instead of punishing them. This behaviour isn’t going to go away, but you can encourage them to stay away from areas that might be breakable or potentially dangerous by providing them with places that aren’t.
Think about getting your cat a cat tree, wall mounts, or anything else that embraces their natural instinct to sit up in the clouds inside your home! And remember, if you see your cat perched atop a bookshelf, or climbing to the top of a tree, know that it isn’t bad behaviour, it’s normal.