Unique Alternatives to Traditional Cat Trees: 10 Ideas

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links; we will earn a commision, at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase through one of our links.

Some cats prefer high perches, while others prefer hiding spots like tunnels. What they all have in common is that they need stimulation, but the way it’s done can differ from one cat to another.

If you cat isn’t a fan of cat trees, or if you don’t have enough space for one, there are plenty of alternatives you can consider.

Luckily for you, I’ve went through enough cat perches, shelves, and interactive furniture to know what works and what doesn’t! 

These 10 alternatives to cat trees are functional and provide enough mental and physical stimulation for your cat.

1. Window Harness

 A cat wearing a secure window harness attached to a sturdy pole

A window harness like this one can attach to a leash that’s anchored securely to a post or any close structure. 

It allows your cat to enjoy looking out of the window without the risk of falling after climbing a tree. On top of that, it’s a perfect solution for small houses because it doesn’t need any room like a hammock or a cat tree.

2. Disguised Bookshelf

A stylish tall scratching post cleverly disguised as a bookshelf or nightstand

You don’t have enough space for both a bookshelf and a cat tree? Why not make both into one?

This clever piece is a scratching post disguised as a bookshelf, so it allows your cat to have all the fun she wants while your books are safely stored. 

It’s also designed so that your cat can climb it, stimulating the activities she’d do on the tree.

Readers Also Check: 14 Creative Cat Christmas Tree Decorations For The Perfect Feline Holiday

3. Hanging Scratching Rope

Hanging scratching ropes and posts

Is your cat a fan of jumping around and chasing yarn strings? These hanging scratching ropes are ingenious for hyperactive cats—they’ll keep them from scratching your furniture.

The ropes provide mental stimulation without having to go outside, and they’re suitable for small houses because they don’t need room at all. Additionally, they allow cats to practice their hunting behavior without actually hunting anything.

You can hang these ropes in the living room or where the cat spends most of her time—all you’ll need is some sisal rope.

You can also hang some toys or bird figurinues to keep the cat entertained while jumping up to scratch the ropes.

4. A Tunnel

A playful cat excitedly darting through a colorful felt tunnel system with multiple exits and entrances, encouraging exploration.

If your cat isn’t a fan of perches and high places, you can always get a cat tunnel like this one. The enclosed space provides a chance for the cat to play and explore her surroundings, and the best part is that you can put it either indoors or outdoors.

You can also make it yourself if you’re on a tight budget—all you’ll need is old cardboard and a large cylinder for sizing.

5. Grass Patch

A sunny corner with a designated patch of fresh green cat grass growing in a shallow container, a contented cat nibbling on the blades.

If you want your cat to enjoy nature’s offerings without going outside, you can get a grass patch like this one. All you need is a shallow pot, some soil, and a fresh patch of grass. 

Your cat will feel like she’s in a garden, and you won’t have to dedicate a considerable room for a cat tree.

You can also keep it near the window to allow your cat to watch the birds and cars outside.

6. DIY Scratching Post

Close-up photo of a creatively designed scratching post made from stacked cardboard boxes, covered in sisal rope and decorated with colorful drawings.

If you’re on a tight budget, you can make a scratching post yourself instead of buying a cat tree. All you’ll need are a couple of posts, a sisal rope, and some old cardboard. With some work, you’ll have a scratching post ready for the cat to use. 

You can also let your kids sketch on it like pictured above to add visual interest.

7. Interactive Playpen

Spacious playpen made from breathable mesh with various activity centers inside, including scratching posts, hanging toys, and a cozy cat bed.

An interactive playpen like this one will be your cat’s new favorite space! With the scratching posts and perches inside, the cat will get all the physical stimulation she needs. Not to mention, the playpen will keep the cat confined to one area, which is handy if you want to keep an eye on her at all times.

I’d get a portable playpen that can be used outdoors—my cat loves to have fun out in the garden, and a playpen will provide a controlled environment away from the flower beds.

Related: 7 Modern Cat Tree Designs Your Furball Will Love

8. Window Perch

Sunny windowsill adorned with a comfortable cat perch and a bird feeder attracting colorful birds outside the window, a curious cat gazing intently.

I don’t know about your cat, but mine loves windows! She can spend half of her day perched up on the window sill and watching her surroundings. Sometimes, she even prefers to eat close to the window so that she can have lunch with a view.

If yours is the same, you can get a window perch like this one instead of a cat tree. It’ll keep the cat entertained while she’s spending her leisure time next to the window. On top of that, it doesn’t need much space, which is a bonus for small houses.

9. Scratching Castle

Cardboard castle structure covered in sisal rope, complete with towers and tunnels, offering scratching opportunities and a fun play space.

Your cat isn’t satisfied enough with her scratching post or tree? 

Then it’s probably time to get a large scratching castle like this one. It may take up a lot of space, but it’ll keep your cat entertained to no end. Besides, it’s perfect if you have multiple cats because they can use it together. 

If I had enough room for this one, I would’ve definitely gotten it!

10. Wall-Mounted Shelves

Photorealistic image of a living room with sturdy wall-mounted shelves and connected ramps, creating a climbing paradise for adventurous cats

Wall-mounted shelves aren’t only ideal for your cat to exercise and get entertained, but they’re also perfect for relaxing time. 

If you can dedicate one wall or a part of it for the shelves, you’ll create an indoor playground for your cat. It’s even better if you have multiple cats because they can use it to play together.

To Sum It Up

Some cats aren’t fans of trees, and even if they are, there isn’t always enough space in your house for a cat tree. 

If that’s the case, you can get one of these alternatives. 

Space-saving options like hanging ropes and window harnesses are perfect for keeping your cat entertained without taking up much space.

Meanwhile, if you have enough room, your cats will love a scratching castle or vertical wall-mounted shelves!