Do cats need scratching posts? The short answer is “yes”. If you want to save your furniture from an untimely destruction, it’s important to pick the right scratching post(s)! You might like the aesthetic of a scratching post, but your cat might not. A little research can go a long way to getting a post that your cat will actually use!
There are four main characteristics of scratching posts to evaluate:
- Height and sturdiness
- Vertical and horizontal surfaces
Height: The scratching post should be tall enough to allow your cat to fully extend while scratching. Your cat should be able to stretch his body out fully to pull his back and shoulder muscles, which is important for health and flexibility. How tall should you be looking at? At least thirty-one inches!
Sturdiness: It’s important that a scratching post is sturdy. If it’s not, your cat won’t use it. It also might be unsafe as it can fall onto your cat, and if it does fall, it will likely be avoided. The taller the post, the sturdier it needs to be! Make sure the base of the post is thick and heavy.
Material: There are lots of different materials for scratching posts! Unfortunately, many of the materials used are based on being attractive to people, not cats. So they’ll sit there and look pretty… unused. Here’s what you’re looking for:
- Sturdy Material: Cats like to mark their territory with long shredding marks. Shredding is also entertaining to your cat, and they like the noise it makes. Scratching, by definition, is destructive, so a material that will last is important (for your bank account too!).
- Maybe Not Carpet…: Carpet is one of the most common materials on a scratching post. A lot of cats like them, the only issue is… do you have carpet in other areas of your home? Your cat won’t necessarily understand the difference. Also, some types of carpets have loops, which can yank on their claws and toes.
- Sisal: Sisal fabric material is heavy-duty, feels great to cats, and shreds under their claws in a pleasing way. You can find sisal in rope form as well, but many may prefer the fabric (allows for longer shredding lines).
- Cardboard: Heavy corrugated cardboard is similar to sisal fabric in its pleasing feeling, and it makes a great noise when scratched. Cardboard is often found in flat and angled cat scratchers.
Horizontal and Vertical: Cats love to stretch… I’m sure you’ve noticed! They like to pull when they stretch, which is why you may find yourself yelling at your cat when he’s pulling up on your carpet. This is one of the reasons it’s a good idea to have more than one scratcher in the house. You can provide a vertical post and horizontal or angled scratcher.
Variety: Cats like to have a variety of textures to scratch. While sisal fabric is a great option for a post, cardboard inserts are great in horizontal and angled scratchers. You can even find some posts that have both! Multiple posts also help with location variety.
Cat Perches/Condos – Multipurpose!
Cat perches are a fantastic way to provide a scratching surface and enrichment for your cat. It’s no secret that cats like high platforms. Perches can give your cat a place to lounge and, when placed in front of a window, offers them entertainment.
It’s not that it’s difficult to buy a scratching post, but if you go into it with these tips, you’ll be able to pick one that your cat will actually like. If you follow all of the tips and your cat still doesn’t like their post, it could be personality specific, or, you might experiment with location. Don’t put it in a room your cat is never in! Here’s to saving your furniture!