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How To Choose A Scratching Post For Your Cat

October 22, 2012

Let’s face it. Most things that we buy for our cats don’t impress them much. Boxes and old blankets will usually win over fancy beds, and odds are your cat couldn’t care less if you bought him the bright yellow sparkly ball or the brown one.

Photo courtesy malingering

Yet, when it comes to scratching posts, you should definitely take the time to make an educated purchase. Scratching is an essential cat behavior, and if you purchase a post that’s appropriate for your cat, odds are he’ll use that instead of your furniture.

So what should you look for? It helps if you can understand what your cat would choose.

If your cat was out in the wild, odds are he’d scratch on trees, tree stumps, wooden fence posts and the like. Consequently, some cat owners will give their cat a piece of firewood or a scratching post that’s made out of a natural log.

But that’s not the only appropriate option.

Some of the more familiar and popular textures include posts covered in sisal rope or carpet. Sisal is great because it accomplishes the same purpose as wood, and they can also be quite durable. Carpeting is another popular texture, but sometimes cats don’t realize it’s a scratcher if there’s a good deal of similar carpeting in their home.

Lastly, a more affordable option is corrugated cardboard. These scratchers usually lie flat on the floor, and they’re a great inexpensive scratcher option. Some even come incorporated into toys.

Photo courtesy Stephanie Booth

Since there are so many options, you may need to experiment a bit to see which your cat likes best. No matter which texture you decide to go with, focus on these two important characteristics:

  • You’ll want a post that’s at least half as tall as your cat when he’s stretching. The taller, the better.
  • The scratching post should be solid; not easily tipped over.

To a cat, these two characteristics may be more important than the material itself. That’s because they both contribute to the overall scratching experience. If the scratcher is too small or short, or if a cat can’t balance or lean against it, he may decide not to use it.

If you have a scratcher that you’re afraid has failed the test, you can try making some modifications to make it more attractive. For example, if the post is wobbly, perhaps you could put it on a larger, sturdier base.

One great suggestion I found was to invest in a piece of cat furniture. Usually these structures (some are carpeted, some are made with “natural” logs) provide areas for your cat to climb and rest on. Their carpeted surface may be enticing for your cat, and since your cat can play and sleep on the structure it reinforces the idea that it’s theirs.

Choosing the proper scratching post can be a bit of work, but to be honest, it’s well worth it for both your cat and your furniture.

Does your cat have a favorite scratching post that he uses? Tell us about it in the comments!

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