When you’re a cat owner, you have to accept that there are things in your home that will be beyond your control. For instance, the arms of sofas and chairs are going to be used as scratching posts; cats will find their way to the top of furniture that you thought was not scalable; and everything will be covered in fur.
These are all things that I’ve happily lived with since I brought my calico cat, Stella, home from a shelter 11 years ago. But one thing I never invested in was furniture for her, mostly because the stuff that’s made for pets is, by and large, pretty ugly.
Scratching posts and cat trees are usually covered in sisal, beige carpet, or both—which is totally fine, but not my style at all. And my cat always seemed happy enough using a scratching pad made from corrugated cardboard (which one of my cat lady friends has dubbed “the raft”), so I never questioned it.
But then last summer, we moved from an apartment that had a big window ledge where Stella could perch and mew at birds, to another, where that was no longer an option. Moving is already stressful enough for pets, so my husband and I worried about taking that window time—kind of like TV for cats—away from her amid all of the other changes we’d be making in setting up our new home.
Finally, we decided to look into cat trees that weren’t ugly—and that’s when we found the Vesper V-Base cat tree. It ticked all of the boxes we were looking for in a piece of cat furniture: It’s small enough to fit in our 550-square-foot apartment, but has enough features to keep Stella occupied, including a high perch. And it’s not too pricey; we got ours on Amazon for about $80.
And best of all, it’s pretty stylish: The base and the modular cube (where Stella frequently naps) are in neutral shades of white and walnut, and though there is a traditional sisal scratching post, it actually kind of fits with the minimalist aesthetic of the thing. Vesper describes it as being “elegant but practical,” and I’d be hard-pressed to disagree.
Most importantly, Stella loves it. It took a few days, but eventually she warmed up to her new furniture. Now, she regularly snoozes in the cube, and the perch—which overlooks two big trees in front of our building—is one of her favorite spots in the apartment, from which she can keep watch over the block and stalk any birds that wander onto the windowsill.
We still have a cardboard raft, and Stella still claws at the arms of our couch instead of those actual scratching posts. But she’s clearly made the Vesper tree her spot—and that’s made our apartment feel more like home for me, too.
Amy Plitt is the editor of Curbed New York.