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How to Choose the Right Scratching Post for Your Cat


You just watched your cat strut out of the room after you heard the telltale sounds of shredding. As you take in the sight of a ragged rug or a scratched sofa, curb your frustration and try some retail therapy. Like all cats, your furry friend needs to scratch. It’s instinctive, and she can’t change her feline ways, according to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. She can be reprogrammed when it comes to her preferred place to scratch, but you need to go shopping first. Your kitty needs either a cat scratching post or a scratching pad.

Post or Pad?

A cat scratching post is a vertical post that sits on a base. Some have toys attached to encourage play. A scratching pad is a horizontal structure. Scratching pads either lie flat on the floor or sit at an incline. Some scratching pads are curvy or sloped in their designs instead of straight. A plastic frame usually surrounds the inserted scratching surface. Some scratching pad frames look like tracks that cats can swat a ball around in for an added activity. Which one should you buy, a post or a pad? Your cat would choose the one that will let her scratch in her favorite position.

If your cat is a horizontal scratcher, her claws go to town on your rugs and on the seats of your sofa or chairs. Horizontal scratchers appreciate scratching pads. If your little shredder is a vertical scratcher, she makes a beeline for doorframes or the side corners of sofas and chairs. Vertical scratchers prefer posts. Now that you know which one to buy, you need to browse the pet supply shops for the right model. Not just any post or pad will do.

Size Does Matter

One reason that cats need to scratch is for exercise. Scratching objects help them to stretch their back muscles and get in their upper body workout. If your cat can’t reach far enough to hook her claws in, she won’t feel that satisfying stretch. A scratching post should stand taller than your cat does when she stands up on her hind paws.

Sturdiness is also important when it comes to scratching posts and pads. Stay away from cheap versions that have no weight to them. If the thing topples over the first time your cat tries to scratch at it, then it’s game over. Your cat will not want to try it out again. The scratching post should have a wide base, and it should look and feel a little heavy. A scratching pad should be wide.

Carpet Cover Confusion

As you browse the aisle of cat scratching posts, you’ll notice that many of them are covered with carpet material. No matter how nice you think one may look with your home’s decor, steer clear of these posts. Your kitty is a smart cookie, but her logic tells her that if it’s okay to scratch at a carpet-covered post, then scratching the wall-to-wall carpet or area rug should be just fine too.

Instead, choose a post that is covered with sisal. This rope-like material provides the perfect surface for your cat to hook her claws into. If you are perusing pads instead of posts, their scratching surfaces are most commonly made out of corrugated cardboard. Cats find corrugated cardboard appealing, and you can easily replace the insert once your kitty has thoroughly scratched it.

Tips of Encouragement

Once you have found the perfect cat scratching post or pad, it’s time to redirect your cat’s scratching pastime.

  • Don’t hide the post away in a corner. Place it right next to the spot where she has enjoyed scratching already. You want her to see it when she decides to visit her favorite scratching zone.
  • If your cat has had more than one crime scene for her scratching behavior, buy more than one post or pad. Place one at each area where she has been scratching.
  • Sprinkle catnip on the post to draw her attention to it.
  • When you see her scratching the post or pad, immediately give her a reward treat when she finishes her scratching session.
  • You may not always be the one to witness your kitty’s good behavior. Tell everyone in your family that she should be rewarded whenever she is seen scratching her post or pad.
  • If you have multiple cats, provide a scratching post or pad for each cat. Cats are territorial creatures, and they scratch things to mark territory, so let each cat have her own.