Pros: Tall, entertaining, faux sheep skin covering, mouse toy
Cons: Inaccurate photo; horrid assembly instructions
Rating: 3 out of 5
Oh foolish us, we decided it would be easier to order a new piece of cat furniture than to try to find a friend with a truck to haul one from the store. We ended up deciding to go with the 78″ cat tree condo house from Pet Supply Factory, with faux sheep skin covering, mostly because it was available from Amazon and I had a gift certificate. Also, how could I resist the 78 inches of height, the soft covering, the miles of sisal rope wrapped around the posts (better than carpet for our cats’ claws, and more durable), and the oh-so-entertaining description of the furniture that made it sound like a real estate listing?
First, a couple of notes regarding the accuracy of that listing. It boasts “assembles in minutes” and “Titan Strength, Stability and Construction.” The latter claim isn’t exactly inaccurate… I don’t worry that my cats will knock this thing over. That said, “titan” is overstating the case. The last piece of cat furniture we owned was sturdier and more stable than this one. As for the former claim… well, this deserves a section all its own.
The huge piece of cat furniture arrives in a surprisingly small box, thanks to the fact that it’s disassembled into as many component pieces as one could possibly manage, pretty much. The “step by step assembly instructions” consist of a single sheet diagram of the multitude of parts and screws, numbered but with no written instructions whatsoever. Parts of it seem ambiguous and difficult to interpret, and there are no numbers on the pieces, so you spend a while trying to match everything up exactly.
My husband and I have a fair history of assembling bits of furniture that we buy, from bookcases to corner desks, hutches, and so on. We’re old hands at it, and it goes quickly. In this case, however, I stayed out of it in the interests of not getting completely confused by the directions and making things even harder, while a handy friend from out of town helped my husband do the assembly. With both of them working together it took more than an hour and a half to assemble the thing. Parts of it ended up being disassembled and then reassembled multiple times because it was so easy to misinterpret the “directions.”
The diagram was so ambiguous in places that I had the bright (ahem) idea of printing out the photograph from the manufacturer’s web site to make it easier to translate the instructions into reality. Unfortunately, as it turns out, the photograph isn’t entirely accurate, and in the long run this resulted in at least one of those instances of disassembly and reassembly.
All of this could have been avoided by including an accurate photo of the finished product and a sheet of step-by-step written instructions, in which case I expect this wouldn’t have taken all that long to assemble–maybe 20 minutes?
Also on the topic of accuracy, I should point out that the dangling rope toy included is about half the length of the one in the photo on the web site. However, they did include a fuzzy mouse on an elastic string hanging from the second-highest perch that also isn’t in the photo, and this is our cats’ favorite part of the whole contraption.
Our cats love the height of this thing so much that so far they’ve largely ignored the lowest two levels. Unfortunately the only real way through the front door of the “house” on the third level is via a small step that isn’t well-placed, so they’re a little reluctant to use it. However, while many cats would be too large to use the diamond cutout in the side of the house as a door, luckily ours aren’t. If you have generously proportioned cats then I wouldn’t recommend buying this model.
Our cats really do love this piece of furniture. Even before it was assembled they kept crawling into the house and snuggling up against the faux sheep skin. The height is too high for a house with a low ceiling, but great for a tall ceiling; our cats love being up high enough to reach the ceiling if they stretch a bit. In particular this is a great piece to position in front of a bay window, where cats can get all sorts of fun vantage points as they stare out the window or into your home from the various levels. It’s a good piece for a multiple-cat family, as there’s plenty of territory to share. We bought this in part in the hopes that it would cut down on some of the fighting our cats have been doing, and while they still get into spats, they work it out between themselves much better now. They usually end up sitting on the two highest perches engaging in a slap-fight, but the distance keeps them separated enough that they have a hard time really getting into it.
Ultimately, if I had this to do over again I’d buy a piece from a different company or pick it up from a store pre-assembled or assembled in several major pieces. The company could do so much to raise customer satisfaction simply by producing a good set of instructions, which really wouldn’t take much time and effort given how much it would improve things, so I have no idea why they don’t do it. As our friend who helped out commented, “If I’d bought this I would have it packed back up in the box and waiting to be shipped back by now.” However, I can marginally recommend the piece just because once it’s assembled it really does entertain the cats–particularly if your cats love heights!