Cat Friendly Furniture without a Cat Tree

Cat Friendly Furniture without a Cat Tree


I adopted my first cat when I was in my early 20’s. Oyster was a gray & white ball of fluff. Who grew up to be a little rascal. I was excited to have my own pet and my own apartment (with roommates). So I went online and bought a giant cat tree. It was over 6’ tall. And Oyster loved it. It cost me about $50. But in pet stores they go can go for well over $100.

Cat trees do provide your cats with their own space. And provide an excellent scratching respite. But they are also, ugly. Difficult to clean. And take up a lot of room.

After keeping that cat tree for far too long, I recently threw it away. It was in storage for a period of time when I didn’t have a cat. Then I decided to use it again when I adopted my two new monsters. Well, my tastes have changed in that time. And my living space is much smaller.

Tiered Shelving Provides A Tasteful Cat Space

cat friendly spaces in nyc apartment
Before/After living room makeover of cat friendly furniture

Since I live in an apartment, I can’t build an amazing cat maze. But I can put up shelves on the wall. After a morning IKEA trip, I bought three deep shelves with brackets. And a four-shelf tower (that is actually a towel rack). I put up the shelves in a tiered way to make them cat friendly

Cats on shelves
Franklin creeping on his shelf

As you can see in the photos, the cats can jump to the towel stand, then up to the bottom shelf, then up to the top shelf. I have half of the bottom shelf for actual storage. Then the other half for a cat. There’s a blanket down on both shelves. This provides the cats comfort and also ‘tells’ them where they should go.

Tiered shelves look nice in homes and are cat friendly
Franklin & Scarface happily on their new shelves

Of course they walk along the shelf and try to knock things over. They’re cats after all. But most the time they just sleep on the shelves. Overlooking the rest of the apartment.

Stand-Alone Scratching Post to Save Your Furniture

However, the shelves did not provide the cats with a way to scratch their claws. And I certainly did not want them to move to using the couch or door frames. At the same time as I put up the shelves, I also bought a tall stand-alone scratching post. Yes, it is expensive. But it works!

This is also an alternative to those messy cardboard scratchers. Those are super cheap but I could not stand seeing the bits of cardboard everywhere. This post is tall enough for the cats to stretch out. And is stable enough that it doesn’t wobble or get knocked over.

When changing your cat’s space like this, it’s recommended to provide them encouragement to use everything. I did this during the first week after the change. Every time they would use the new scratcher, I gave them a little treat. This is also to help discourage them from scratching the couch.

Blankets on shelves perfect for cat friendly spaces
A spot just for a cat

It’s unfortunate that it took several different objects to replace the one cat tree. But my living room looks much nicer now. And the cats are just as happy (maybe happier?) than before. What can I say, the cats live here too!


3 Replies to “Cat Friendly Furniture without a Cat Tree”

  1. Love the shelf idea! I agree about the cat trees. I replaced my worn-out one with a stand-alone scratching post as well. And also provided a few more “cat spaces” by putting folded old towels on top of certain cabinets and bins. So it looks like they have taken over more space – which they have! Are your cats young, or are they just little ones? So cute!

    Leslie, thanks so much for the ongoing NYC tips. I really appreciate it!

    1. Using old towels is a good idea! Cats can never have too much space! But it’s definitely helpful to give them lots of spaces rather than them trying to invade places you don’t want them. Hah, everyone says my cats are little. But according to the vet they are a perfectly healthy weight and they definitely eat like pigs! Scarface (the tux) is 3 and Franklin is 5. We kind of guessed when their birthdays are.

      p.s. feel free to email (me[at]lesliebeslie) if you need any more nyc help!

  2. The shelf idea is quite unusual and difrrent and I think it can be a good option in a tiny apartment inspite of cat tree which occupies much space and the towels you put on shelf is another briiliant idea to feel them comfy.You have tried enough to feel your cats happy and have come up with innovative way.

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