Cat Scratching Posts – 5 Basic Tips
Why do you need a cat scratching post? Because cats like to scratch things. It is in their nature. And if you don’t give them something to scratch, like a scratching post, they will find something on their own. And that something might be your brand new sofa, or the legs of your beautiful dining room table.
Can’t you just train your indoor cat not to scratch? Well, many have tried, but few if any have succeeded. And while declawing is one way to keep a cat from scratching up your belongings, it’s not really healthy for your cat. The procedure is very painful, and removing your cat’s claws can have long lasting, negative effects. Besides, why put yourself and your pet through all of that when you can save your furniture from cat scratching by simply buying a cat scratching post.
What Is a Cat Scratching Post?
A cat scratching post is a piece of cat furniture designed specifically for your cat to ravage with their claws. Some are very simple, and mostly amount to a tall piece of wood, and might be called cat trees. Typically, these simple posts are about two or three feet tall, and are covered with some kind of material that has been known to attract cats.
Other types of scratching posts are more fancy and elaborate. In fact, they can almost be considered cat playground sets, because your kitties can jump, climb and play on them. They sometimes even have a cat toy or two attached. Some of these pieces of pet furniture are often marketed as cat condos or cat houses. It’s also not uncommon for cat furniture to have cat beds and even a cat perch built in.
Types of Scratching Posts
Cat scratching posts come in a variety of shapes, sizes and prices. You can find a simple post for less than $20, or you can pay hundreds for something more elaborate. Some people have even made their own scratching furniture.
One thing to keep in mind is that, if your cat doesn’t like the post you bought for them, they won’t use it, choosing to take out their desire to scratch on your furniture instead. So it’s important to choose wisely.
Some scratching posts are covered with a material very much like carpeting. Many cat owners choose these posts thinking they will be less painful for their cat’s claws. But they don’t necessarily want to scratch something too soft. In fact, most cats love the feel of scratching something rough. And if they prefer the roughness of your sofa to the smoothness of their post… Well, you get the picture.
A post covered in sisal is probably your best option. This material allows your cat to really scratch, paw, and dig their claws in.
However, some cats prefer scratching wooden objects. So if you’re more likely to catch your cat scratching a wooden table leg than the arm of your couch, you might want to buy them a wooden post.
A cat scratching post should also be pretty sturdy and strong. If you think it would tip over if your cat leaned against it or jumped on it, it’s not the right post. Choose a post that’s solidly made, and that has a large, sturdy base.
You also don’t want a post that’s too short. Your cat wants to be able to really stretch to scratch, and they can’t do that if the post is too tall. So, when buying a post, imagine your cat fully stretched out, their front paws high above their head, and buy a post that is taller than that.
Getting Your Cat to Use a Scratching Post
You should buy scratching furniture as soon as possible. In fact, if you can buy the post before you bring your new kitten home, even better.
Often, a cat will gravitate to a scratching post and start using it all on their own. But this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, they need a little help. But, while you might be tempted to take your cat’s paws and place them on the post, but this isn’t the best way to go about it. Instead, try scratching at the post yourself, to show your cat how it’s done.
If that doesn’t work, you can try spraying the post with catnip spray. You won’t have to do this for long, though. Once they start scratching the post, and realize how great it feels, they will do it on their own.
If you have had to deal with your cat scratching the furniture, they are probably used to you scolding them for scratching things. So, when they start scratching their cat scratching post, praise them. Let them know that will you not scold them for scratching the post, but it is actually a good thing.
Scratching Post Placement
If you want to make sure your cat will use their new scratching post, you want to place it in a place that pleasant and easy for them to reach. You also don’t want it too close to other targets (namely, your furniture) that they could decide are more appealing.
On the other hand, you don’t want the post in a place that’s too isolated from the family. How often would you go somewhere you found lonely and isolated?
If you have a spot in the living room or family room that isn’t too close to the furniture, that might be the ideal place for a post.
Cat Scratching Post Maintenance
Most cats like clean, well kept things. And if their scratching post is dirty or worn out, they won’t use it, and will choose an alternative that probably won’t make you all that happy. So keep an eye on the condition of their post.
You should do what you can to keep the post clean and in good shape. And, if the post seems too far gone, replace it. You might have to repeat the training to get your cat used to the new post, but it shouldn’t take him or her long to adjust.
Now you see how important the right cat scratching post really is. It’s amazing how much of a difference they can make. They really are a small price to pay to keep your cat happy, and your furniture undamaged.