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5 Reasons Why Your Cat Likes to Be Up High (Everything You Want to Know!)

Genevieve Dugal

By Genevieve Dugal

cat trying to climb over the fence

Cats and high places go hand in hand — climbing is just part of their nature! From the highest shelves in the house to the tallest tree in the yard, cats will often scale whatever they can get their paws on. But why? In this article, we explore the top five reasons that cats love to be up high and how to make sure your feline friend is safe while doing so.

The 5 Reasons Why Your Cat Likes to Be Up High

1. To Watch Their Potential Prey

Cats are natural predators, so they often seek out high places to get a better vantage point when hunting. By being high up, these talented little hunters can spot potential prey from a distance and develop a plan of attack. Also, cats may want to keep an eye out for potential threats to themselves — like another cat, a rambunctious child, or the obnoxious vacuum cleaner! Being perched atop the bookcase gives them a greater visual advantage over any impending danger.

Abyssinian Blue Cat sitting on the arm of a sofa
Image Credit: Foonia, Shutterstock

2. To Establish Their Position in the Hierarchy

When several cats live together, spaces in height enlarge the territory and tend to reduce tensions. In fact, according to a certified expert in feline behavior¹, one of the best ways that cats can establish their status is by climbing as high as possible and sitting comfortably at the top. This helps keep the peace between the cats and reduces the chance of fights. So, when a cat climbs to a higher place, it’s a way of marking their territory with a visual statement that says, “This is my spot.”

3. To Stay Warm

Since hot air rises¹ and cold air sinks, high places provide the perfect environment for cats to snuggle up and keep warm. That’s why your kitty will often choose to nap on the top of their favorite cat tree during the winter months.

Two highlander cats resting in a cat tower together
Image Credit: Patrick Hatt, Shutterstock

4.  To Feel Safe

Cats tend to be a bit skittish, so it’s not surprising that they would seek out high places to feel safe. In fact, they may be instinctively drawn to heights because they can escape danger quickly and easily. This also gives them a tactical advantage in terms of safety and hunting.

5. To Explore Their Surroundings

Cats are curious creatures that love to explore their environment. By climbing to high places, they can get a better view of the world around them without having to leave the safety of their perch.

cat sitting on top of the wooden door
Image Credit: Larisa Lo, Shutterstock

How to Keep Your Cat Safe in High Places

While all felines are instinctively drawn to climbing, it’s your responsibility as a cat parent to make sure they’re safe while they’re up there. Here are a few tips to keep your cat out of harm’s way when they’re exploring:

  • Make sure the area where your cat is climbing is stable and secure. Check for boards, nails, and other potential hazards that could hurt your pet.
  • Install window screens to prevent your cat from falling out of an open window.
  • Provide your cat with plenty of vertical surfaces to climb on, such as shelves, cat trees*, and window perches.
  • Monitor your cat’s behavior, and look for signs of illness or anxiety. While it’s normal for a cat to climb things, hiding and sleeping all the time can be a sign of an underlying health issue¹. Consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

* Note on cat trees: A cat tree is an essential accessory for any cat owner, especially when there are several felines in the house. Many options are available at pet stores and online, ranging from basic one-tier models to sophisticated ones with futuristic looks. You can also easily find DIY plans to create a unique cat tree tailored to your cat’s needs.


Although every cat is unique and may have their own motivations for climbing everywhere, there are common reasons that cats like to be high up. They may climb to establish their status in a multi-cat household, to feel more secure, to find a warm and cozy place, or to explore their surroundings from a different perspective. By understanding why cats thrive in tall spaces, you can help keep your own cat safe and happy.

So, the next time you see your kitty jumping on top of your fridge, take a moment to appreciate their agility and love of the high life!

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Kalo Kanev, Shutterstock

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