When you get a pet, that's not necessarily something in the forefront of your mind. Sure, you may know on some level the dog will chew up a toy or a cat me shred a tiny little mouse toy, but that is probably the limit.
Well, I don't know about other people's cats, but we apparently were woefully unprepared for our wild little Bengals. We got Moochie and Sera when they were about three months old and roughly a quarter of their full-grown size. Having grown up with indoor cats we also knew they needed something to scratch on, so we bought them this cute little scratching post, probably at PetSmart or Petco.
Moochie demonstrating how to use the first scratching post.
We also decided that since we had two kittens we should have two scratching posts. That first one was pretty basic, so for the second one we bought something a little more fun for them. Look at all those balls to bat!
Sera on the second scratching post.
After the the twins were full grown it quickly became obvious these just weren't going to cut it. For one they weren't strong enough to support an adult Bengal, and for two they were simply too small. Poor Moochie would stretch his back legs as far away as he could and arch his back the wrong way just so he could scratch on them. It looked horribly uncomfortable and made us feel like bad cat parents, so we decided to spend a little more money and get them something bigger.
Moochie, who conquered the larger post.
Well, that worked for a while. Then the upper part of the structure - on the floor on its side in the picture above - started to wobble under their weight. Because it wasn't the best building materials - screws and cardboard tubes, mostly - there wasn't anyway to tighten it up.
Then, one night - it's always the middle of the night, isn't it? - we heard this tremendous crash from upstairs, where the cats have "their" room with the scratching post, food dishes, and bathroom. I leapt out of bed and ran upstairs to see what happened, though I figured the structure had finally broken - I just hoped no one was hurt. (Yep, great parent aren't I? "Hey kids, I know this isn't safe, just stay out of the way when it breaks, m'kay?") Thankfully they were all just a bit freaked out, and sure enough the upper part was on the floor. With no damage to the cats and no damage to the walls, I turned off the light and went to bed. Deal with it in the morning.
We knew now we had to really spend some money on something for this little beasts, because these relatively inexpensive things simply didn't cut it. For awhile we hoped this other post we bought for them would be enough, but as you can see this also couldn't stand up to the now-famous Bengal claws.
Moochie: What the hell am I supposed to do with this?
At this point we were kind of stuck. We needed something that was "industrial" strength to handle the strength and ferocity of the Bengal, but you don't find something like that in your average pet store. However, since Portland is a city where people love to spoil their pets there are plenty of specialty pet stores around and we started taking notice of these cat trees at some of them produced locally by a company called Royal Meow.
Royal Meow doesn't call these pieces "trees" - these are "castles." If you click around their website and view the various products you will see that is an extremely apt description. There was no doubt in our minds this is exactly what we needed for our Bengals. The sturdy construction would be able to support their weight and the height of the taller ones would be much better for a super long kitty like Moochie to properly stretch his legs and still do sharpening as needed.
The castles are made from recycled tires, solid plywood, and extensive use of sisal rope, which our cats love. All of that adds up.
Of course, you have to spend money for quality - these aren't cheap. When you buy something like this it's something you have to plan for, rather than just making a snap decision (well, at least in our tax bracket). It seemed perfect, but would it really be justified?
Well, we decided after a bit, there would be no more half-assing it. I mean, we love our cats like kids, we spoil them with high quality food (I really do believe they eat better than we do - healthier at least), so why wouldn't we get them something like this?
So one day at Sellwood Dog Supply we decided to take the plunge and bought a slight variation of the Critter Burrow. After wrestling it into the back of the Escape we brought it home and put it in the living room for the cats to check out. For reference, that lamp on the right is six feet tall.
Moochie checking out the new toy.
As we predicted, they were thrilled. In addition to the turret at the top there are two platforms for a cat to stretch out, which Moochie takes advantage of whenever he can. From the turret they can see everything in the living and dining room, and they enjoy judging and yelling from this vantage point.
The turret has an access point from underneath on one side, which they usually use. However, both Moochie and Sera think it's much more fun to climb over the top from the side.
Sera, checking things out from the side access.
We also decided to give the castle a bit of it's own flair. See those pink strings? Well, we had these wand toys for the cats, a plastic arm with a bird or mouse attached on a string, that they love to chase. The only problem is these weren't designed for the strength of a Bengal and inevitably they get broken. Then what do you do with them? Well, we decided to take the string and tie them in a knot around some of the brace posts, which gives the cats something else to do when they are bored.
With getting Misaki we weren't quite sure how she would respond to this new cat toy, which ideally she would leave alone. Of course, she's also the same size as the cats, so we thought she might try and climb up.
Misaki checking out the new cat castle with Moochie (above) and Sera.
Thankfully she has been good. She goes over and lays at the base while they play, but overall leaves them alone. Well, as much as any other time.
The cats have also learned to share a little bit. The turret is big enough for all three of them to be in there if they like.
Moochie and Sera in the turret: What do you want?
It's become a bit of a sanctuary for the cats. It's high enough us short people can't easily see in - we call it their Ivory Tower. Partly because of the cream color, but also because of how they - mainly Sera - will sit up there and look down on the general goings-on with disgust, like she can't believe how the rabble acts.
Then, of course, there is the cute factor. Check out these two:
Sera and Moochie, Yin and Yang, sleeping in the turret.
Here's one last picture, one which really allows you to see the size of the Royal Meow castle. That's Sera at the top, taking advantage of the height to finally see what's in the lamp, while Moochie stands in the middle and Misaki curls up at the base.
Sera making sure the lamp is acceptable. It's probably not.
If it's not clear by now we heartily recommend the products of Royal Meow. We've had this for two months now and it will absolutely stand up to the needs of three Bengals (well, really two, since Lilo doesn't have claws). Yes, it's expensive and yes, it takes up a decent amount of space, but it's well worth the cost.
As for the space issue, it actually fits in with our general decor pretty well so the size is less of an issue. It matches the carpet and is pleasing to look at.
And the cats love it, so that's about all that matters, right? If royalty like ours approves of it, I'm sure other cats would too.
Two paws up.