The story started with a visit to good friends, who have their own home after renting for years, and time and desire to setup house for themselves and their 2 gorgeous black rescue cats.
We popped over for a night with a small group of friends, and part of that was playtime for we people, in the new Media Den, with the theatre recliners and big screen experience on a domestic level. In pride of place, so the cats could rest and play at the same time and in the same space, were 2 fuzzy towers. You know the type. One a people eater purple, replete with fuzz covered boxes and platforms perched on and sandwiched between corded poles. The second a more subtle black and white (paw prints), both placed to frame the big screen, and competing for the eye regardless of wont look power.
Whilst the desire to cater to the kitties, and share a space where much time can be spent, was beautiful to see, the towers were not so. The evident enjoyment felines feel at being elevated, in observant repose, and occasional energetic bursts, in the shared spaces with their people, means towers and vertical play spaces are important. But design, aesthetics and robustness, play a large part in making a den pleasing, not just a play area. More so, in apartment living where there is a need to maximise space use, well designed vertical play for our felines that caters for fun AND presentation is almost mandatory.
The search was on for vertical playgrounds that wouldn’t topple, or fray their tacky fuzzy skins to look decrepit as soon as they were used.
Contempo Cat Towers have the clean crisp look of natural light wood, made to be ultra sturdy for great durability, that we were looking for. In addition, flexibility in setup to cater for different felines, and space needs, plus movability for our more transient lifestyle, ticked a lot of boxes for Cat Evolution.
We ordered a selection, based on personal experiences and taste, and have tested the products for quite a few months, before making decisions. Shadow has been up, down, and all over, all of the towers, and is athletic enough to take the leap onto and off of the various levels. He is very comfortable on the steps and shelves, which all have carpet well fixed for rubbing and rolling. We initially tried the non-carpeted steps but found these were too easy to roll off, and as Shadow much preferred the carpeted perches, we have taken his ‘comments’ to heart in this regard. The carpet is inset well from the edges, so those areas where rough play usually creates wear and tear (literally) are up to the task without the damage, retaining the original look with no fraying for longevity. The build is strong, with simple lines and well considered construction making the movables easy to change for season and habitat refresh. Easy to install as free standing or pressure fit, the investment is a ‘take with you’ just like your furry family member, rather than a fit (if allowed) and leave (or remodel after removing to repair screw holes etc). Movability is a great fit for our more urban lifestyles, and caters better for the minimalist or renting and moving for work and play mode.
Fixed, set up and sit structure with lovely curved lines, which makes it more akin to an ultra stylish bookcase or shelving unit, the Contempo is a great hit with Shadow (and I). The open sides, and graduation due to the curves, makes this a solid yet very open and light play zone, with multiple points of access for pokes, pats and paw slaps. Toys can be tossed into, and onto, and through, with Shadow happy to be the goalie and then fetch and carry (up and down). He is usually a Da Bird fan, flat runs and leaps, but the Contempo gets him rippling up and down and looking the complete black panther. He sits when at rest very happy to be just above eye level, and able to meow for some face to face time and slow blinking, without un-loafing, as his people pass conveniently by (we are set up in the middle wall of our centre living area). Its an easy reach to his silky coat, since he is strokable from any direction on the open Contempo. He always looks very secure with the semi enclosed nature of the sides on the shelves, and yet is very open to see and pet. Inclined to run away to his favourite play area (the couch), he stays sat on the Contempo, and that’s just lovely for me to get some cat comfort in, without serious time out for play. I can also reach both arms in, and give him a good cuddle without dislodgement, and get more head bumps and tolerance of oversquashing than usual. Purring is also easy to elicit with a neck scratch, since Shadow still feels secure and in control at the elevated level, and in his semi-box heaven.
Free standing, with a mix of platforms and steps that are set generally on the quarter turn for easy access, the Junior is also proving to be a great height for passing patty paw traffic. Its more open, so Shadow runs to it and sleeks up to the second top or top, depending on his level of ‘I want to play’. Its more of an adventure land than the Contempo, as its much more open and the play is more vigorous for us both. There is more leaping from different levels, and toys tossed onto the tower are less likely to be captured and more likely to be dived after, and pounded. It has more interplay between floor and high time, than the Contoure. Its amazingly stable with a large footplate, and the centre pole being square seems to not have the loosening issues that round poles display. The steps and platforms are inset actually through the pole, so the effect of cat bodies doing some acrobatics is more evenly distributed, rather than relying on a single pinion point. The simple chock fastening is brilliant. It makes repositioning very easy, and keeps the configuration fresh. The food bowl fits our Fellipet inserts, and also can be removed for a plant or water bowl if preferred (or added). I don’t feed Shadow on the tower at all, preferring to keep his water and feed separate from his play space, but if space was more confined, it would be very much utilised, as the base board can catch spills (perhaps a cut to fit rubber mat would be a good up-size, or varnish the footplate if spills were expected).
This one gives the most height, and is designed with a number of extensions so you can pressure fit it to a range of ceiling heights. Showing all the good points of Junior but with a smaller footprint, and longer play area (vertically) its definitely attractive for multiple cats and the more athletic felines. Shadow took advantage of the platform to perch just above head level on this one, again taking advantage of passing traffic but a little more above it all. He did sit at the second from top as well, and this maybe but to the top step being a little close to ceiling for his liking (easy to fix). I suspect it maybe warmer up there too, across the cold season. We moved it around a little, taking care not to damage our ceiling when installing. If you have a normal house, with gyprock ceilings, its best to find the stud for a good pressure fit, and you may want to add a larger plate to spread weight. If you have an apartment with a concrete slab above, no problem. Do check for suspended ceilings and ducting to avoid damage. Next to the glass doors was popular – the fixed panel providing a great cat TV view out to the courtyard from indoor safety. Central along the wall was all about the walkway, and the great view to the automatic feeders ;o) Moving is simple, and if you have a helper the platforms and steps can stay in place. Otherwise strip and reassemble is easy with no screw driver needed after initially assembling. The only point to be careful of is that the pressure is right to keep your tower well pined in place. A regular check (monthly depending on number of cats and vigorousness of play) is recommended to ensure the tower does not loosen off at all. If it falls (yes, we test EVERYTHING) there can be damage to the pole. Replacement extensions are available. Of more importance, care to be taken that it does not fall on the important things in life (pussy cat or person), so regular checking is highly recommended.
Ahah! Yes, there is connectivity available. If you have multiple cats and want some His and Hers or Yours and Mine, interplay, a bridge is available to link the towers together. We have not tested this one, but look forward to feedback on the interchange (Shadow is a solo cat)
Just to update from the hands-on purrspective, all towers are shipped flat packed, and are easier to put together than IKEA.
If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pounce to answer! Meow.