Why Does My Cat Like to Stay in High Places?

February 9, 2021 6:31 pm Published by

If you’re a cat owner in Alexandria, VA, you’ve almost certainly noticed your cat’s affinity for high places in your home. Cats and high places are a classic pair—any opportunity they can find to climb and sit or lie down on top of a shelf, a piece of furniture or any kind of elevated surface, they’re going to make it happen.

But why is this? Is there some sort of evolutionary reason for cats sleeping in high places? Here’s an overview of what you should know.

Cats love getting up high

It’s certainly fun to watch cats figure out which surfaces they can get to and which ones are out of their reach. Over time, cats will find their favorite high-up spots in your home and make them their own.

This instinct survives in domesticated cats as a remnant of what cats must do to adapt to their environments in the wild. Their ability (and desire) to get up high is what helps them stay safe.

While we might think of cats as predators (after all, they’re outstanding at killing mice and birds), they’re also prey to larger predators, like coyotes, eagles and owls. Staying in higher places provides them more opportunities to seek shelter, and also gives them a better vantage point to watch for prey of their own and to see if there are any predators coming their way.

This means that a cat’s desire to seek higher ground comes from their desire to stay safe and increase their chances of survival. If a cat climbs up into a tree’s branches, for example, it will be able to avoid large mammals that cannot climb trees. Cats can also stay in trees to blend in with their surroundings and seek camouflage among the branches and leaves, which can protect them better from flying predators. The cats that were the best at climbing to seek safety would have passed on those survival traits to their offspring, and that means today’s cats have generations of climbing instinct that they use even in domestic settings when there is neither predator nor prey to be concerned with.

Cats might also seek elevated spaces simply to get away and have some space of their own. They often use their climbing skills to avoid confrontation with other members of their species. Mother cats might climb to get away from their kittens—what mother doesn’t need a break every now and then? Other cats might simply not want to be disturbed, and know that by getting up higher they’ll be less likely to have to interact with others.

In your home, cats take comfort in being able to find high places that they can claim as their own. They make for safe, peaceful, comforting spots where they can relax without interruption.

Want to know more about some of your cat’s fun behaviors and habits, like sleeping in high places? The team at Kingstowne Cat Clinic would be happy to teach you more. Be sure to ask next time you visit our cat clinic in Alexandria, VA for your cat’s checkup!

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