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Life in the Cat House

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Our cats don’t climb trees the way they once did. I guess that’s a sign they are getting older.
When they were younger they were climbers, especially our boy cat, Ozrow. Skittles would run up a tree at times but not as often or as high as Ozrow. I recall one time when he was young, the wind was blowing hard. We were outside doing some yard work when Ozrow zoomed past and made a leap up on a tree trunk.
When I looked again a few minutes later, he was all the way to the top of the tall tree, riding a branch waving wildly in the wind. He was obviously have a fine time.
We’ve all seen or heard stories about cats that climb trees or utility poles and can’t get down again. On occasion, people have called the fire department to get a cat out of a tree. We’ve never had that problem. All our cats have always managed to get themselves down from heights as easily as they got up. No matter how timid a cat might appear about leaving a high perch, I think if you leave them alone long enough they’ll make it down on their own.
Climbing is a natural instinct for cats. Living in the wild long ago, they climbed trees to seek safety as well as giving themselves a vantage point from which they could look around and see what was coming. Those wild cats were able to reach the ground again and a modern cat can, too.
When cats are pampered and well fed, as ours are, they have safety in the house and a bottomless food dish. Cats like ours have a different reason for climbing. They do it because it’s fun. To see a favored cat high in a tree may make a person nervous, but it doesn’t seem to bother the cat. They have a good sense of balance and claws to use for hanging on. That doesn’t always protect them, though.
Years ago we had a cat that fell off the roof of the house and broke a back leg. She could reach the roof by climbing a tree growing close to the house. Apparently, she slipped on the roof one day and the shingles were too hard for her to dig her claws into. She slid over the edge and dropped several feet to the ground.
We’ve never had any other cats get hurt from falls, but sometimes we worry they will. We have a railing across the upstairs of our house above the living room. Skittles used to love getting on that rail and walk along it. We were sure she would fall some day, but she never has. We haven’t seen her on it for a couple of years, so maybe being on it has lost its thrill.
Cats that are allowed to go outside a lot are not nearly as bad about climbing curtains as those locked up in a house all the time. Cats choose to climb curtains when nothing else is available and they have an urge to get up above everything.
These days, about all cats climb on is the deck rail. They both spend time there and it’s wide enough for them to lie on it to bask in the sun. That doesn’t bother us because if one falls off a deck rail is not high enough for it to hurt them.