Contents of Article
- Why do cats scratch?
- What is the Best Cat Scratching Post?
- What makes a great cat scratcher?
- Top 5 Best Cat Scratchers
- Using Your New Cat Scratcher or Scratching Post
Why do cats 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.
Additionally, scratching helps to keep your cat healthy by allowing them to stretch out their entire body and get a little bit of exercise.
What is the Best Cat Scratching Post?
If you don’t give your cat a designated scratcher, they’ll use the best tool they can find: a sofa, a door frame, a wall, or the carpet.
Without the healthy outlet of a great scratcher, inappropriate scratching begins a chain of negative outcomes.
The typical response to inappropriate scratching is to punish your cat, but without offering an alternative to scratching the furniture, you’re punishing your cat for taking advantage of the only outlet they have. Frustrated and confused, your cat can act out with other unwanted behaviors. Inappropriate urination and aggression are a couple of the ways that your cat might express stress in response to attempts to repress their natural instincts.
It’s best to divert those instincts into something productive, constructive, and healthy. That’s why it’s important to find a great scratcher or scratching post that your cat will love to use. In this article, we’ll take a look at a few of the different characteristics of a great scratcher and then name our picks for the top 5 best choices available today.
What makes a great cat scratcher?
The most important characteristic of a great scratcher is that your cat loves to use it. Thanks to differences in feline personalities and preferences, it can take a little experimentation to find the perfect fit. Fortunately, we can narrow down the search by identifying cat-approved materials and designs and pairing them with quality construction. Let’s take a look at some of the different features and qualities that can decide whether or not a scratcher is a good choice for your cat.
Good scratching surface materials are at the heart of a quality scratcher. They’re what make the scratcher appealing to your cat and thus determine whether or not your cat will actually use the product once it’s in your home.
The most common types of scratching materials available are carpet, sisal rope, sisal fabric, and cardboard. Let’s rate each of these popular scratching materials.
You won’t see this material on our list of the top 5 best scratchers.
This is because often, carpet defeats its own purpose. Allowing your cat to use a carpet scratcher sends a clear message: carpet is an acceptable scratching surface. If your cat has an issue with tearing up the carpeting and rugs in your home, it’s important that they recognize the difference. Besides this training concern, it’s easy for your cat’s claws to get snagged on carpet scratchers – an unpleasant experience that could both cause pain and an aversion to their scratcher.
Sisal is a natural material that comes from the agave sisalana plant, and in cat scratching posts, you’ll often see it in the form of rope. The rope is wrapped around the post for a simple rough scratching surface. When done properly, sisal-wrapped scratchers can be a great choice, but there are a couple of drawbacks: the sisal rope is often not very well wrapped and can come undone. Plus scratching the lumpy wrapped surface can feel jarring and unnatural.
It’s important to choose a sisal-wrapped scratcher with quality construction; select one that’s solidly wrapped and unlikely to fall apart under the stress of vigorous use.
Sisal fabric is a woven material that has great claw-feel and allows your cat to make long, continuous scratches along the rough surface. The fabric shreds easily, giving your cat the instinctively satisfying feeling of making a visible mark in the home. Often thought of as the best type of scratching material for cats, sisal fabric is a satisfying, pleasant surface for your cat to scratch.
Cardboard is less durable and cheaper than the previously mentioned scratching surfaces, but it does have a couple of advantages. First of all, cats love scratching cardboard. It shreds readily, which can be a negative feature for humans but is a pleasure for cats, and has a great claw-feel that they can really rip into. The inferior durability of cardboard is accompanied by the fact that cardboard scratchers are cheaper and typically feature reversible and replaceable scratching pads, allowing you to refresh the pad again and again for years to come.
Construction and Stability
Choosing a scratcher made with quality body construction does a lot to ensure the longevity and durability of the piece. Look for sturdy wood that’s screwed together, rather than glued or nailed.
Cats can get pretty serious about scratching – so it’s important to choose a scratcher with great structural integrity – a piece that will stand up to your cat’s enthusiastic scratching. If you have smooth floors, you may need to attach rubber pads to the bottom of the scratcher to prevent it from sliding across the floor. Top-heavy scratchers can tip over and fall on your cat, so it’s important that tall scratching posts are balanced with a very sturdy base.
Regardless of the shape, a scratcher should allow your cat to stretch out completely. To find a scratching post that encourages a complete stretch, choose one that is one-and-a-half times the length of your cat. Besides needing to stretch out completely, cats crave the total stimulation of stretching out vertically and horizontally – which is why it’s so beneficial to provide multiple scratching surfaces. There are a couple of ways to offer this complete scratching experience. Some scratching posts incorporate multiple surfaces to allow your cat to scratch from various positions. You can also enrich your home with a selection of differently-designed scratchers, including those that are flat, angled, curved, or mounted to the wall.
Top 5 Best Cat Scratchers
Chosen based on high cat approval ratings, functional and sturdy design, and high-quality materials, the products on our list of the top 5 best cat scratchers are all worthy choices to satisfy your cat’s scratching needs.
SmartCat The Ultimate Scratching Post Review – $30.09
This tall scratching post features ultra-satisfying sisal fabric for a fulfilling stretching and scratching experience
With its 32” height and four sides, this is a big scratching post with enough room to satisfy multiple cats. This tall scratching post allows your cat to completely stretch out as they scratch. It’s supported by a sturdy base for maximum stability, allowing your cat to safely attack the sisal fabric scratching material. This is a very highly-rated scratching post that cats and humans alike have come to love. – Buy It
- 32” height allows your cat to fully stretch out as they scratch
- High-quality sisal fabric is satisfying, durable, and feels great on your cat’s claws
- Sturdy 16” x16” wood base keeps the tall scratching post from toppling
- Neutral color tones allow this scratching post to elegantly integrate into your home decor
- Doubles as a fun climbing pole
- Doesn’t incorporate multiple scratching surfaces for different scratching positions
PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge Review – $49.95
This piece is both a scratcher and a lounge, making it a great place to stretch, scratch, play, and relax
This elegant multifunctional piece combines a scratcher and a lounge, so your cat can kick back and relax after a satisfying scratching session. It’s made from appealing and durable corrugated cardboard and is reversible for twice the use. According to customer reviews, this scratcher tends to last for about two years. With its peanut-shaped curved design, this scratcher allows your cat to get a great stretch from different angles. The Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge is 34” and 10.5” wide, meaning that it offers plenty of space for your cats to scratch and relax. – Buy It
- Piece doubles as a lounge, making it a great multipurpose space for your cat
- Curved shape gives your cat a great stretch
- Sturdy cardboard construction is super appealing to cats
- Reversible for longevity
- If your cat prefers tall scratching posts, this scratcher lounge offers little in terms of vertical scratching space
KONG Naturals Incline Cat Scratcher Review – $7.49
This scratcher is a winner with its simple angled design, enticing cubby hole, and a cat-approved cardboard scratching surface
This incline scratcher is made with a corrugated cardboard scratch pad that cats love. It’s double sided and replaceable to ensure the longevity of this scratcher. This low-priced scratcher includes a fun cubby hole and toy for interest and comes with mountain-grown catnip to get your cat excited to scratch. It’s a basic design with rave reviews. – Buy It
- Cats love the angled design
- An environmentally friendly scratcher made from recyclable materials
- Comes with catnip to get your cat excited
- Features an enticing cubby hole with a dangling crinkly toy for interest
- Cats love scratching at the cardboard surface
- This scratcher may slide around when in use
- Not for cats who prefer to stretch out vertically
MidWest Feline Nuvo Grand Forte 41-inch Cat Scratching Post Review – $38.60
For cats who need an extra-tall scratcher that they can really stretch out on
Some cats need height! For cats who love to stretch up while scratching, this sisal-wrapped scratching post offers extraordinary height. With a sturdy 19” x 19” base, it’s stable enough to support scratching, climbing, and jumping. Thanks to the soft faux-fur base and top, this piece doubles as a comfy hangout spot. Cats known for scratching and climbing curtains are good candidates for this towering scratching post. – Buy It
- Ultra-tall for cats who like to stretch out vertically
- Features soft faux fur for comfort
- Sturdy base allows your cat to use the post safely
- Cats love to climb and perch on this scratching post·
- Sisal rope doesn’t have the great claw-feel and durability offered by sisal fabric
- Doesn’t offer a place for your cat to stretch out horizontally
SmartCat Bootsie’s Combination Scratcher Review – $16.99
Encourage mental stimulation and full-body engagement with this versatile scratcher
This scratcher is equipped with wall mounts, which allow you to create variety by hanging it up for a great vertical stretch or leaving it on the floor to engage your cat’s desire to scratch on a flat surface. It’s made with durable woven sisal fabric for a satisfying scratch. – Buy It
- Can be used in both flat and upright positions for a varied experience
- Has rubber feet so that it won’t slip on the floor
- Sisal fabric has great claw-feel and is satisfying to scratch
- Compact scratcher is easy to store and transport·
- At 24” long, this scratcher may not be large enough to satisfy some cats’ need to stretch out
Using Your New Cat Scratcher or Scratching Post
Most cats will easily recognize the purpose of the new scratcher and will start using it with little encouragement.
If your cat needs a little enticing to make use of the new scratching post, there are a few tried-and-true methods that will attract them to it.
To encourage your cat to take advantage of this new addition to the home, you can place it in a location where your cat already loves to hang out – next to a window, by their bed, or in a central area of the home. If your cat scratches the carpet or a rug, you can place a flat scratcher over the area where your cat typically scratches.
If your cat is sensitive to catnip, sprinkle a little bit of it on the scratcher to encourage them to playfully investigate the area.