Scratching is a natural feline behavior. Unfortunately, it is one of the most common issues frowned upon by many cat parents as their furballs destroy carpets, curtains, and furniture with their sharp claws. Thus, a common question shared by many cat owners is “how to stop cats from scratching my furniture?”
Considering that it is an instinctive behavior, measures to eliminate the habit can be futile and even inhumane. The best way to deal with the behavior is to understand why cats engage in the habit and to provide ‘legal’ scratching surfaces to divert their attention from ‘illegal’ surfaces. Your best bet is to provide scratching posts for your pet. There are several types of scratching posts to choose from. And in order to make sure that your pet takes a liking to the post, you have to take several factors into consideration.
Before we begin, let's address a question that is commonly asked!
What are cat scratching posts made out of?
There are many types of materials that a cat scratcher is made out of. Some include wood, sisal, and cardboard. Regardless of the material that the cat scratching post is made out of, the most important thing to look out for is to ensure that your cat is able to have fun, express themselves, and keep their claws healthy!
Characteristics of a good scratching post
Height – The scratching post must be tall enough for your cat to stretch and fully extend his body while scratching. Check out scratching posts that are at least 31 inches in height or taller.
Sturdiness – Scratching posts need to be sturdy to avoid injuries and accidents. Also, cats won’t use a post that wobbles. Cats love to scratch on furniture because they find these surfaces extremely stable. An unstable cat scratcher can easily fall over and hit your kitty. Take note that the taller the scratching post, the sturdier it should be. Choose posts with extra heavy bases.
Material – Various materials that are used for scratching posts, unfortunately, many of these are simply to appeal primarily to humans. Thus, even though how attractive the material appears to you, your cat may not like it and will simply avoid the scratching post. Have you ever noticed that cats like to shred things? Cats like to run their claws on material that shreds when they scratch. They also like materials that make a loud noise when they scratch— the louder, the more satisfying.
The most popular fabric that is used in scratching posts is sisal. It is a heavy-duty fabric and shreds under the cat’s claws. Between sisal rope and sisal fabric, cats appear to prefer sisal fabric because it shreds better than the rope. They can draw their claws on the fabric while maintaining a good grip. The sisal fabric’s texture and the resistance feels satisfying to the cat’s paws and claws. The problem with sisal rope is that it does not permit a continuous vertical shredding movement. The wrapping of the sisal rope around the post interrupts the vertical movement of their paws and claws.
Types of scratching post
1. Cardboard cat scratchers
These are made of heavy corrugated cardboard. They love the feel of the surface and the sound that their claws make when they scratch. Corrugated cardboard is often used in flat and angled cat scratchers. Cats like the angled position which is different from the usual vertical and horizontal posts. It allows for more stretching as more muscles are used. The orientation of the scratcher allows cats to scratch forward or backward which is great for physical and mental stimulation.
2. Horizontal scratching posts
If your cat loves scratching on horizontal surfaces, such as carpets and floors, your best bet in diverting his scratching is a horizontal scratching post.
3. Vertical scratching posts
Vertical scratching posts mimic tree trunks that cats use as natural scratching surfaces. These are great options for cats that love to run their claws on sofa arms, door jams, and furniture stand. The vertical height gives their back and shoulder muscles that much-needed workout. Squatting or stretching against the vertical post also works the muscles of the cat’s hindquarters.
4. Cat perches
Cats love to have lots of vertical spaces around so they can perch and keep a close eye on their territory. What better way to cater to this need and provide a ‘legal’ scratching surface to your cat than a multipurpose cat perch that is designed with various scratching surfaces?
5. Kitty condos
There are kitty condos or cat trees that are designed to provide vertical and horizontal scratching surfaces while creating a safe place for cats to rest and stay at a vantage point. Place a cat condo near a window so your kitty can have a view of his immediate surroundings, inside and outdoors.
Having several types of cat scratching surfaces in your home will give your kitty various opportunities to engage in this natural behavior. The difference in designs, angles, and materials of these surfaces works different muscles and provides complementary exercise. The physical and mental stimulation they get from scratching promotes nail, muscle, and overall health. Scratching on various textures enriches a cat’s scratching experiences and benefits. It also allows deep-cleaning in between their nails.
Posts should be in places where your cat spends most of the time. It is also a good idea to place scratching posts near areas where cats eat or sleep because they like to engage in the habit after eating or napping. When choosing the right spots to place scratching posts, always think of convenience. Cats typically scratch on surfaces that are close to where they are. Multi-level homes should have a scratching post or two on each floor. In multi-cat households, the number of scratching posts, pads, and trees should be enough for everyone to avoid squabbles between cats and to satisfy the different scratching whims of each cat.
With several types of scratching posts around, your kitty can engage in a full range of scratching styles. There will also be different options to scratch on depending on their moods and needs. The health and emotional benefits that a cat derives from having multiple scratching surfaces can certainly make your furball happy and contented.