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Why Do Cats Like High Places?

Jul 11,2023 | Peouna

If you've ever walked into your home to find your cat perched on top of the refrigerator, a bookshelf, or another high point in your home—and wondered what, exactly, she was doing—you're not alone. We all know there are a lot of, ahem, odd feline behaviors that aren't so easy to explain, but it turns out, perching from high points is a super common—and instinctual—behavior among domesticated cats.

A cat lounging on top of a high dresser

So, Why Do Cats Hang Out in High Spots?

The answer is pretty simple: Cats have an instinctual need to observe their world from a high point because they're both predators to mice, birds, rabbits, and other small animals, and prey to larger animals, like coyotes, owls, or eagles. Not only does a higher vantage point give cats a better view of potential prey, but it also offers them some protection from larger animals—and, in theory, allows them to see a predator coming. What's more, back when our domesticated kitties' ancestors lived in forests and jungles, the leaves and branches of the trees they considered home also offered some camouflage from predators.

It's safe to say most domesticated cats aren't frequent hunters—aside from the occasional mouse or bird—and definitely aren't being hunted themselves. Their penchant for perching in high places, however, remains deeply ingrained in their biological and evolutionary makeup. You may find your cat loves to hang out on top of the refrigerator because:

  • It allows her to keep an eye on her environment (and it's warm!)
  • It gives her some private, calm space in a busy household
  • It offers her protection from other cats, other pets, and young children
  • It helps her avoid confrontation with other cats in the home

In households with multiple adult cats, lounging in the highest points can actually be somewhat of a status symbol—the cat with the "best" vantage point is typically considered the dominant cat. Having a number of high points in the home can help prevent conflict because each cat will have his or her own "designated" spot.