Customer Reviews: SmartCat Multi-Level Cat Climber
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Size: 4 levels|Change
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on October 16, 2011
I know there are a few complaints about this product not being sturdy enough for cats jumping on it so I wanted to post this short video of my foster kitty climbing it. She and her sister play fetch and we throw the toy up on the climber, then they scale it like this or climb it from the front like a ladder. We have 8 cats here and all but 2 use it regularly. Granted most of our cats are well under 10 lbs but a couple of them are 12-14 lbs and still climb it.

Ours turned out to be incredibly sturdy. After reading the reviews I took extra time when putting it together - each time I attached a new section I went back and tightened the previous sections, then at the end I tightened them all, then had my roommate tighten them after me! Also as another reviewer recommended I kept one of the long pieces of cardboard from the packaging and wedged it between the backing and the door. I'm not sure if that was necessary but I did it anyway. This thing doesn't budge when they climb it, and they will even stay put when we open the door to get something out of the closet. There are no additional bolts or anything securing it to the door.

The ONLY complaint I have is the material each of the landings are covered in. They were torn up within a day or two. I guess that's my fault for putting cat nip on it! It is very cheep material, but the sisal on the backing is good quality and sustaining their scratching. I'll still give it 5 stars because for the price it can't really be beat in terms of the amount of use it gets and the entertainment it provides us watching the cats on it! We've had it for a couple months now and even if it broke tomorrow I'd buy another one.
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VINE VOICEon February 28, 2009
What I great idea! I thought. A multi-level cat tree that does not take up half of the living room. And the picture of the kitties on it is so cute. Well, hold on before you click on the Buy button. The company needs to tweak this design. The darn thing refuses to lay flat against the door; it bows outward and the unit will actually sway when a cat jumps on it. The spring on the adjustable bracket is noisy and not sturdy enough to do the job. Combine swaying with noise, and guess what? Yeah, the cats act like the tree is a product from Cat He**. We're talking non-stop fluffed tails, ears pinned back and finally, avoidance of the tree at all costs. If you want to take your chances with this, go ahead. But it is really pricey to return, due to its weight. I'd wait until the 1.0 model is available, and pass up the beta that the manufacturer obviously has released.
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on May 14, 2009
This climber is great if you live in an apartment and want to give your cats a dual scratching-post/climber without sacrificing space. I have two small kittens (11 weeks old) that took to it in no time. We will come home from work and find both of them on the top platform looking down at us. Note: If you have small kittens, you might want to initially help them figure out how to get down from the lower perches before leaving them alone with it - it is a little easier to get up than down.

The review critiquing the construction is correct. The unit would benefit from a solid back (after I move, I will be looking into a way to create my own backing for the climber), and the platforms, while large enough for two small kittens to sit on with each other, may be too small for large cats. The climber does sway a bit when the kittens initially jump on it - this is not for skittish cats. If you have a cat that would have no issue climbing a tree branch, then they'll have no problem with the climber. Unless you have a very well oiled door, the climber works just as well with an open door as with a closed one.

The actual material (sisal rope) is great for the cats to scratch, although they will not be able to stretch out to their full length to scratch when they get bigger. I would highly recommend the Smart Cat Ultimate Scratching post for that.

Declawed cats may have issues getting up and coming down from the climber, and due to their more precarious situation (missing the last joint of their paws - think of it as loosing your finger from the last joint up), may feel more nervous about the non-rigid nature of the climber.

We got it on super-clearance ($65) from a PetSmart, but, if you are concerned about space issues or appearances (it looks great!), the climber would be worth the Amazon price. If you live in a larger home or have larger or older cats, you might want to look into getting a similar priced cat tree instead.

As it is, I couldn't imagine leaving our kittens at home without this climber to help entertain them. We'll keep using the climber for the rest of our cats hopefully very long lives.

We also have the Smart Cat 3835 Bootsie's Bunk Bed and PlayRoom, and can say that Smart Cat makes very nice looking and (generally) sturdy cat furniture.

Update 2/1/10: My cats are larger (about 1 year old and 11 pounds) and they still love to use the climber. Acclimating cats when they are young might be the trick to this thing. Again, if you don't have a lot of space or are planning on moving a bunch (as we did), it is worth the $85 and better than a larger floor climber. If you hold on to the box, it is a cinch to pack up and move, and sturdy enough to toss all your other belongings on top of.

I never did end up putting a backing on the climber. Some cloth wedged behind it prevented most of the noise issues while allowing the climber to easily be packed and moved. Another issue you might have, however, is if the door itself does not tightly close. If this is the case, then when the cats jump on the climber it can make a racket. Again, some cloth padding to create a soft seal on the door took care of that for us, but again, we don't have to open the door often.

Surprisingly the cats are still using it as a scratching post despite my earlier assumption that it would be too short. While their legs hang off of the climber when they are lounging on the steps, it doesn't bother them. One of our cats has taken to leaping straight up to the third platform.

In summary, if you live in a small place and space is important to you, then this climber is definitely worth 4 stars and $85. If, however, your cat is older, declawed, or overweight then buy something else.
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on September 16, 2012
I read all of the negative reviews and what people are saying makes sense. It would obviously bow on a door without some sort of a strap in the middle. In addition, you would need to secure the door so it doesn't move every time the cat gets on and off of the unit.

The instructions were poor, but in reality there's only 3 basic parts and anyone should be able to figure it out. The material on the platforms themselves looks like a padding material and is not carpet. The top and the bottom of the unit are capped with wood. The corners are not sharp as some people suggest. They are squared off corners covered in the padding material. There's nothing on the unit that would cut or injure the cat. I have one cat that weighs 14 lbs and he can go from platform to platform just fine. It would be easier for him if the platforms stuck out a little more. The other cat which is about 8 lbs, and loves climbing, goes up and down with ease. At first both cats looked confused and awkward going up and down the tree, but they quickly adapted and now they do it without effort.

I planned on improvising the unit and mounting it to the wall and not a door. Because improvising it was in my plans, I ignored many of the negative reviews regarding it being wobbly. I drilled 3 holes, one on the top, one in the middle and one on the bottom of the unit. I secured it to a stud in the wall with a lag bolt on the top and the bottom. In the middle I used a lag with a loop on the end and then attached a toy to the loop. On the second platform there's now a toy dangling that the cat's can play with. See the pictures for more detailed information.
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on April 21, 2015
I purchased this "Cat Climber" (strange name for a desk?)* a few months back and attached it to a rarely-used door off the living room.

Assembly was a breeze, its a very simple design yet very sturdy once installed. I'd recommend to pay attention to where you're going to install it and make sure the door-knob-level shelf is facing *away* from the doorknob, especially if you have lever-style door handles like we do. It's not the end-of-the world even if you don't, but I wish someone had pointed it out to me before I assembled it.

Installation took a little more effort since we have high ceilings and tall doors to match so it took some elbow grease to fit the tension springs over the door and door handle. It would have been easier if we'd removed the door handle first, but in the end it wasn't necessary. It fits securely on the door and takes up very little space.

Usability is great, the second-from-the-top shelf is perfect for a monitor or laptop, and the self below it is nearly ideal for a keyboard and trackball/trackpad. Each shelf is a hair over 17 inches wide and 9 inches deep, however there rear support is around 1.5 inches thick so you can't use the full depth (only about 7.5 inches).

My laptop protrudes slightly from the higher self, but I've found it to be perfectly stable. I often also use the Aidata aluminum lapdesk to raise it up a little, but its not needed. I have a 17" monitor that would fit well there too, and I've found that the shelves do not sway and in the months I've used it, nothing has fallen off the door even when seeing traffic back and forth.

On the lower shelf I use a Kensington Trackball with Scroll Ring (available here on Amazon) on it and I find I need a wrist rest, but that's mostly due to the design of the trackball - it wasn't made for standing desks - but its easily remedied. I also have a 60% keyboard (no arrow keys, no keypad) next to it which fits very nicely (Matias, Happy Hacking, and others make keyboards of this form factor) . A full-size keyboard is going to eat up a whole shelf, but you can get a mouse tray also from Aidata here on Amazon for a few bucks more if that's your preference.

I put my speakers on the very top shelf, and if you run the cables down the hinge-side of the door there's no worries about the wires getting in the way or pulling anything off the shelves when the door is in use.

Overall I'd say this was a great purchase. The best part is that I don't have to worry about the cat climbing over my keyboard at every opportunity.

* Yes I know this is a door-mounted cat tree, however, the cat didn't like it. Only sushi would get her to even the second shelf, yet she always finds her way up onto the kitchen cabinets. Over the weeks that followed I found that it made a great standing desk, hence this review.
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on January 6, 2009
The unit is easy to assemble. The design flaw most likely occurred in order to make it more compact for shipping and stocking. Rather than a single board center support, the sisal wrapped center is 5 segments. Once assembled, the climber bows, which wouldn't occur if the core was one board rather than segments. Once hung on a door, the slight bow means that the climber isn't flush. Each time a cat jumps onto it, it bumps against the door. I was able to tighten the tension spring on the door mount to minimize this, but then damaged my door trying to get the unit back over it. Hanging would be easier with two people.

Secondly, the platforms are not that large. I have two adult cats weighing 9 and 14 pounds. Both cats looked rather oversized for it. As titled, it is a great concept, but nothing that neither me nor my cats cared for.
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on October 2, 2012
This is a fairly decent piece of cat furniture. I believe it is structurely sound and can hold the weight of my cats. However, there are a few things that you must know about it.

1) I have an older house and my doors are 83.5" tall... so this doesn't fit... And there is no information on the max/min height adjustment... The manufacturer should put this info on the packaging and their website, which I did not see.

2) Wanting to fit it on my door, I unscrewed the brackets on the back and took out the spring-loaded mechanism, measured my door, and then put the bracket back on to match the height of my door. While this made it fit my door, this cat climber bows out from the door. I think I remember someone else reviewing that said the same thing.

3) Assembly instructions are not great, but this is fairly easy to put together... if you have two people. It is much hard to put this together with one person as lining up the screws, using the wrenches to tighten it up, and holding the pieces up at the same time was a bit frustrating. Just a logistic issue.

4) Seeing that I really could not use it on the door I planned it for, because it was the door to our bedroom (probably works best on a closet door where less traffic is happening)... I took it off the door, removed the metal brackets, and screwed it into the wall next to my armoir... It actually looks great on the wall and the cats love it! Besides, now they can get to the top of the armoir and hangout up there.

If they advertised this piece for attaching it to the wall, it would sell well. I can attest that it looks great on the wall, very sturdy, and my cats are enjoying it right now.
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on December 24, 2009
I have 17 cats (that is not a typo) and 14 of the 17 love this. The three that don't are older and fat and just too lazy to climb on anything.

I have two of these units hanging on closet doors. They are easy to put together and are fairly easy to lift and slide onto the door. When the cats jump on it, it does make noise by bumping against the door but I found an easy solution. I simply took a very long self drilling screw and drilled right through the center post into the door. Now, if you have very expensive doors this might not be the solution for you but since I have this hanging on my closet doors and my cats use this constantly, it was well worth to me.

I added a photo of my cats using the climber. Click on the "customers images" link below the photo of the product.
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on November 14, 2010
Ok so I think we can all agree this is a great idea, however the execution does need a little help. I bought this having already read the bad reviews.. so I was expecting to have to make a few adjustments.
- 1st there was a broken piece where a connecting corner of a sisal section had broken off/in-half. With some gorilla wood glue and a clamp overnight (atleast 3 hours) it was find.
- Next the directions say to hang it with the spring end facing the ceiling... I didn't see that until I'd already hung it with the solid side up. I tried it both ways and having the solid end on the top of the door worked best for my fat kittys.
- A lot of other reviewers mentioned the whole thing bowing in the middle quite a bit. I saw this problem immediately upon hanging the climber up. I took it down and retightened all the wing-nuts until I thought they were gonna snap. I also made sure that the metal washer bar was lined up correctly. This helped ALOT but there was still a little bowing when I put it back up. I used some thick ribbon to tie each section around the whole door. This fixed it with out leaving any holes in my door!
- After 2 weeks the carpet on the ends of the platforms was starting to fray. I used the same ribbon as before and a hot glue gun to hide/protect the edges of each shelf. It actually looks really nice, and it matches my color scheme :)

Now that I've had my climber up for a few months the cats still love it. I've got an adult female tabby and a young male bengal who are up and down that thing constantly. I would suggest choosing the door you put it on wisely. It does move around a bit and can make some noise doing so. I've got it on a seldom-used closet door and it works perfectly. If you're willing to do a little work it is worth it.
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on December 30, 2010
When I saw the photos of this, I thought it was a wonderful idea. When it arrived and I gave it to my spouse to assemble, he just laughed and asked me where I thought it would work. Oddly enough, most door jambs are snug enough that there is no space for the over-door bracket to fit and still be able to close the door. It's also hard to tell from the photo that there are many pieces involved. Every time you add another piece, it gets wonkier and less stable. We finally ended up screwing it to the wall at the top, bottom and middle. It is now reasonably stable and the cats like it. They really don't use the scratching parts because the design is not conducive to a cat being able to reach up and stretch out to scratch.

The other problem my spouse pointed out is that IF it does fit on a door, it would have to be a doorway where the door could swing all the way open, not 90 degrees like many doorways. Otherwise, the shelving would block a portion of the doorway or the shelving would crash into the wall (depending on whether it was hung on the outside or inside of the door).

The only real wood on this thing is the very top and bottom pieces. The remainder is cheap pressboard.

In short, I would not recommend this product to anyone. Something else would work better.
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