The cat is a complicated creature. As a Certified Cat-Friendly Practice, though, Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital tries our best to understand where these quirky, magical creatures are coming from.

Although we still have a lot to learn, cat behavior is a topic that is becoming increasingly studied and understood. One interesting theory is the tree dweller or bush dweller theory. The question of which type of plant a feline friend identifies with can help us to better understand cat personalities.

The Tree vs. Bush Dweller Question

Most feline aficionados have at least heard of the cat guru, Jackson Galaxy. Galaxy is a well known cat behaviorist, made famous by his Discovery Channel show My Cat From Hell, and is recognized for his penchant for seeing things from the cat’s perspective.

Galaxy has a theory that all cats identify as either tree dwellers or bush dwellers. You can determine this just by paying attention:

Tree dwellers – Prefer to be up high. These cats are more akin to leopards, perching in trees, surveying their surroundings, and lounging up high. These cats are often a little more confident in themselves and can be found in cat trees or up on your kitchen cabinets. 

Bush dwellers – Want the opportunity to retreat. More like a bobcat, bush dwellers tend to be a bit more timid. They crave cozy nooks where they can seek shelter or observe unseen. They may spend more time under the couch or a table, inside boxes, or peering from under the bed. 

Can you decide which your cat is? Of course many cats will display affinities for both high and low, but most will have a clear preference.

Playing to Cat Personalities

The tree v. bush dweller question may just seem like a fun fact to know, but it does lend a lot of insight into individual cat personalities. Understanding your cat’s preference can help you to create an enriched environment for your individual cat that speaks to their individual needs for comfort, safety, and stimulation.

If your cat is a tree dweller, consider:

  • Adding vertical space to your home such as cat trees or kitty-friendly shelving
  • Creating a cat superhighway above ground level where cats can navigate around your home
  • Positioning your furniture and belongings carefully to allow and encourage your cat to use them as vertical space
  • Providing multiple lanes for cats to pass up high
  • Supplying comfortable areas to rest and lounge in areas where your cat can see their surroundings
  • Trying to eliminate “dead ends” on vertical paths

If your cat is a bush dweller, however, focus efforts on:

  • Providing retreats such as small tables that your cat can hide in or behind
  • Supplying items like covered beds or cat tunnels
  • Being sure your cat’s favorite paths provide the ability to take shelter 
  • Allowing your cat to use nooks and cubbies to escape dealing with the world

Taking these measures can lead to a happier, healthier cat. An ideal environment can decrease stress, resulting in fewer issues with things like kitty aggression, urinating or defecating outside of the litter box, and overgrooming. 

Our team is all about anything that helps cats live their best lives, even if it may sound like a personality quiz on Facebook. If you have any questions about how to cater to your tree or bush dweller, don’t hesitate to call us