A scratching post is essential for any healthy, well-adjusted cat. Cats must have an outlet for their urge to scratch, so providing a post for that purpose can save your furniture, drapery and carpeting from destruction. Cats also use their scratching post for stretching and exercise, so obtaining a suitable post is vital to a cat’s health and well-being.
Why do cats like to scratch?
Whether you give them a place to do it or not, cats are going to scratch. Scratching is an essential instinctive behavior with a combination of psychological and physiological benefits that your cat can’t go without.
Cats’ claws grow constantly. Every 2-3 months, the outer part of the claws grow beyond the blood supply. That outer sheath drops away, revealing the fresh, new claws underneath. Scratching against rough surfaces helps this sloughing process along and keeps your cat’s claws well-maintained.
Scratching allows your cat to mark their territory through scent and visual identification. Their paws contain scent glands that deposit your cat’s unique odor signature on the objects they scratch.
Besides this, scratch marks visibly identify objects as belonging to your cat. Scratching is an essential part of how your cat identifies a place as being their home.
Best types of scratching posts:
Outdoor cats typically use tree stumps or wooden fence posts to sharpen their front claws. If a cat has spent any time outside he may enjoy a scratching post of wood to remind him of the great outdoors. Some enterprising cat lovers bring firewood or small stumps indoors for their cat’s pleasure, while others purchase scratching posts constructed of natural logs.
Another material of choice is corrugated cardboard. Economical cardboard posts are easy to replace and appeal to many cats. Usually they lie flat on the floor and may come with a toy attached to entice kitty to scratch at them. Since many cats enjoy cardboard posts and they’re often quite inexpensive, first-time cat owners often start with this option before graduating to more elaborate and pricey cat furniture.
A post covered with rough sisal rope is another popular option. The sisal accomplishes the same purpose as tree bark outside – it catches the front claws so the cat can pull downward and release the sheath to expose the new claw underneath. Sisal posts do cost a bit more than disposable cardboard ones, but they’re durable and last for years before they need replacement. Many cats enjoy using posts covered in sisal.
Some scratching posts sold in stores are covered with carpeting. While the carpet accomplishes the same purpose as sisal, it often resembles the carpeting found on staircases and floors in homes. Some cats may not make a distinction between the carpet on their scratching post and that in the rest of the house. These cats often pull at carpeted stairs and floors, and usually benefit from a switch to a post made from a different material.
Another factor to consider is the height of the post. Cats reach upward and pull down against the post, so a cat’s post should be at least half again as tall as he is to allow him to stretch. The taller and more sturdy the post, the greater the chance of a cat preferring the post to a couch or armchair.
Do cat scratching posts work?
Scratching posts can definitely work! But cats have different preferences for material, size, location, etc. It may take some time, but I’m sure you can find something that your cats will use.
I think you should try a couple cheap scratchers made of a few different materials first, so you can figure out what your cats like. No need to spend too much money at first, but for example, you could get a cardboard scratcher a cheap carpeted door mat, and maybe a cheap sisal rope scratcher. Try the different scratchers out in various places, with catnip and treats, etc. to encourage the cats, and see what gets used most. Then you’ll have a better idea of what to invest more money in.