Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: September 6, 2022 by Crystal Uys

tree dweller bush dweller

If you’ve watched Jackson Galaxy work his magic with challenging cats on Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell, you know that one of the concepts he frequently explains to cat guardians is the difference between cats who are “tree dwellers” and cats who are “bush dwellers.”

Tree dwellers need vertical space. These are the cats that like to jump up on counters, sit on top of the refrigerator, climb curtains or bookshelves. Bush dwellers, on the other hand, prefer to stay low to the ground. They tend to seek out spots that are hidden, such as under an end table, or even under the sofa or bed.

In multi-cat households, it is critical that you understand your cats’ preferences, and provide options to accommodate both behavior styles.

Tree dwellers

Tree dwellers will need plenty of cat trees and climbing shelves. Jackson created the term “cat superhighway” when explaining how to accommodate these cats’ need for vertical  territory. Cat superhighways are especially important in households with more than one cat. They give cats opportunities to share territory on more than one level, without bumping into each other and creating possible altercations.

A good cat superhighway includes the following elements:

  • multiple lanes offering alternate routes
  • on and off ramps
  • no dead ends
  • rest stops and lookout points

You can create a cat superhighway by using cat trees and condos or wall-mounted cat shelves and stairs. You can also use existing furniture.

Bush dwellers

Bush dwellers tend to be skittish cats who may even react with aggression, depending on the trigger. They will need plenty of hiding spaces where they can get away and feel safe. In addition to using existing furniture such as end tables and coffee tables, you can use cat tunnels, cat cubes, or covered beds. This way, your cat can remove himself safely from perceived stressors or threats, and you’ll avoid confrontation or redirected aggression toward another cat, or the human, in the household.

Allegra is more of a bush dweller, although she will seek out the top of the cat tree at times. Ruby likes to be up on counters, perches, and the top of the refrigerator, so I’d definitely classify her as more of a tree dweller.

By understanding your cat’s environmental preferences, and “catifying” your living space, you can create a stimulating and safe environment for tree dwellers and bush dwellers alike.

Are your cats tree dwellers or bush dwellers? How have you accommodated their different personalities in your home?

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