We have had an Armarkat cat tree in the past, and knew we wanted to go with the same brand. Our previous one was high quality and loved by our cat, but we had chosen to sell it before a cross country move. While I have been happy overall with the purchase, there are of course positives and negatives about the product. Here is my review of the Armarkat cat tree, along with some information about other models.
Overview: The Boring Basics
This cat tree is actually one of the smaller ones that they sell but it is still large enough for a two-cat or even three-cat household. The posts are covered with sisal rope which is ideal for scratching and the platforms are covered with faux fleece. It has a large base which keeps it sturdy while the felines jump and play on it. My cats both weigh under 10 pounds, but I assume it would be just as sturdy for larger cats.
The main draw of this model is the hidey box. It is perfect for one cat to curl up and lay in and it has two openings so they never feel trapped if their feline sibling decides to bother them. It is easy to assemble and one person can put it together on their own, though it might go faster with two people.
It weighs 40 pounds and the dimensions are 28 x 25 x 57 inches, so be sure you have a large enough area set aside for it before you order.
Sisal Rope is a Cat's Best Scratching Friend
You have one or more cat, so you already know how much cat's love to scratch. It goes beyond a hobby for kitties, it is an instinct. You cannot convince your cat to not scratch. The best you can do is to convince your cat to not scratch the furniture.
The poles covered with sisal rope will help solve your problems. My one cat used to occasionally scratch on furniture, but now always goes to her Armarkat kitty tree when she feels the urge. We got her to start simply by scratching on it with our own hands. She quickly got the hint and now doesn't need any encouragement.
Our other, cat, however, seems oblivious to the purpose of the sisal. What should you do if your cat is like ours? Well, first determine if they prefer vertical scratching or horizontal scratching. While some cats like stretching up, others prefer stretching out. If your cat seems to prefer carpets and rugs over furniture, buy them a horizontal cat scratcher. If they are focuses on furniture instead of sisal, use some repellent or double sided tape on your furniture, and use catnip on the posts. You may also take their paws and start the motion for them.
Cats Like Being High
Outside, cats love climbing trees. Giving them a high up perch inside the house will help make them happier. The cat condo I purchased is 57 inches high, which is perfect. There is a perch at the top and one slightly lower. I will often have one cat on each of these taking a nap.
You can get a taller model, but I don't think it is necessary. If you have a large home and multiple cats, you might enjoy spending a little bit extra for a 68" or 72" tree. I would avoid anything shorter than 57".
While they mainly sleep up at the top, they also like to play. Well, my one cat likes to play. I'll put a toy on one of the top shelves and she'll jump up and throw it down. This is a good way to tire out a hyperactive kitty.
As I mentioned in the overview, the middle section consists of a box with two entrances/exits. This allows a cat to take a nap in relative peace and quiet and is perfect for any feline who doesn't like to feel exposed while she sleeps. One of the best things about this is that it has two holes so that a cat never feels trapped. My more playful cat has been known to bother my shy one while she is sleeping in there, so I know how much she appreciates the easy escape.
The other feature on this model is the large braided sisal rope that hangs near the bottom. This could be a fun toy for some cats, but I've only gotten mine to play with it once. Other cats might love it, but it certainly isn't an essential piece.
Some models have hammocks. I haven't tried these, but I imagine that some cats love them. Of course, you can always make or purchase your own kitty hammock if you don't want to spend the money on a model that includes one.
While I opted for the faux fleece, they also have faux fur models. I felt confident buying the fleece because I knew it was similar material to what my cats already lay on. Plus, I live in Florida and thought the fur might be too warm. If you have any kitty beds or blankets made out of faux fur and your pets love them, you might want to purchase a tree with this material.
Warning: Dangerous Toys
One thing I hate about Armarkat cat trees is that they include dangerous toys in the package. I suppose these toys are meant to hang from the tree, but they have pieces that your cats could swallow. This is dangerous for your cat and could result in an expensive vet visit. So, if you do buy any of the Armarkat kitty trees, be sure to throw out the toys.
I do enjoy using toys on the cat tree. I place a ball on the lower shelf and put small stuffed animals on the top shelves. I'll also encourage them to jump on the tree when I'm playing with them with the cat dancer. So toys are a good idea as long as you use your own pet-safe ones.
Cat trees are expensive, but I think they are worth every penny. You can save money if you build them yourself, but since I live in an apartment it was much easier for me to buy one. I purchased one of the cheaper models and spent under $90 from Amazon. Larger models may cost around $150.
I don't see the point in buying a cheaper cat tree. They aren't appropriate for multi-cat households and don't provide enough surfaces. If you can only spend less than $50, you'll probably be better off building a free cardboard fort for your felines.