Whether we’re sifting through dog meal delivery services or cat treats, we often joke at Reviews.com about how inconclusive it would be to consult the preferences of our own pets—our dogs’ interest in raw food, our cats’ preference for one dried bonito flake over another. Every pet is unique; behaviors can derive from unknown causes. Typically, the testing component of our pet product reviews — the portion of the vetting process that comes after research surfaces our preliminary selections — is limited to the human element. How stinky are fish treats? How messy is this dog flea treatment to apply? But when it comes to cat trees, we learned, you just need to broaden your sample size. Go where cats roam like cats. In other words, go to Pasado’s Safe Haven.
This animal sanctuary in the mossy rainforests of western Washington has a big mission — ending animal cruelty. Accredited with the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, Pasado’s investigates and intercedes in cases of animal cruelty, advocates and educates, runs adoption and foster programs, offers spay and neuter services, and operates a pet food bank. Across 85 acres, the haven provides a lasting home to llamas and donkeys, sheep and pigs, turkeys, geese, and, at the current count, eight dogs and 38 cats.
To help us get a more complete picture of how cats engage with cat trees, we hauled the best five cat trees we could find to “Kitty City” at Pasado’s Safe Haven. The cat trees we selected come in five different sizes—from a lightweight, stylish scratching column to a ginormous, 6-foot-tall, carpet-covered condo—and five different price points. All hit the specifications for a great cat tree according to animal behavior research. Namely, easy access to the first level (important for older cats), soft, cozy material that invites peaceful snuggling, plenty of scratching options, and high nesting spots for felines to survey their domain.
It was amazing to see the cat preferences we targeted based on our research endorsed by the cats at Pasado’s. The snuggliest material attracted those seeking slumber. The tallest tree beckoned to the wily climbers. The shy tucked into the darkest cave.
If you visit Pasado’s today, you might find a couple dozen cats scampering from cat tree to cat tree, burrowing into baskets for a snooze or swatting at the dangling toys. We commonly donate or return the items we bring in for testing, but this donation experience was exceptionally rewarding.
When Reviews.com decided to review cat trees, one of the first things we had to do was find some cats. Thankfully, we were able to partner with Pasado’s Safe Haven. Pictured are (from left) Philip Palermo, Adam Benjamin and Anne Dennon from the Reviews.com team, along with senior communications manager Ihlae Rosen and animal caregiver Karen Parnall from Pasado’s Safe Haven.
Like all the animals at Pasado’s Safe Haven, these kitties come from rough backgrounds — hoarding situations and unsheltered living are common. Some of the cats are fiends for petting, and eager, despite all the hardships they’ve faced, to share and receive a little love. Others don’t want you getting too close — at least, not yet. Animal caregiver Karen Parnall, the cat specialist at Pasado’s, says even the most cautious become more trusting day by day.
When cats first arrive at Pasado’s, they’re placed in a quiet room near the back of Kitty City. They get comfortable in a small group of cats, and observe the bravest among them accepting ear scratches and treats until they get the idea that humans aren’t too bad. Gradually, they make their way out to the front, where they lounge with fellow felines and have playtime with sanctuary volunteers. They explore the covered outdoor deck, which Parnall says is especially popular on warm summer nights.
The cautious kitties might give a firm hiss at an approaching human, yet will snuggle in tight with a feline buddy. A lot of single-cat households assume that cats don’t like other cats. But when raised in a group, cats revert to their evolutionary pack identity, according to Parnall. They prowl shoulder to shoulder. That’s why Pasado’s asks that cats be adopted in pairs.
We were pleased to help furnish these cats’ happy home at Pasado’s, but the home these cats would really love is yours. Here are just a few of the sweet cats awaiting adoption at Pasado’s Safe Haven:
Amber is a regal little lady who adores a warm spot to rest.
Comet is new to the whole human thing, but she’s discovering the joys of a good scratch and she purrs when held.
Doug is a sweet, outgoing fellow ready to find his forever home.
Jelly found the haven all on her own, accepting food and pets outside and peeping through the windows into Kitty City. Now she’s an indoor diva.