Shelley Wester, Open Your Heart
The list of supplies needed when adopting a new cat or kitten can be daunting. Food, litter, toys, a bed, a scratching post, nail clippers, a brush for grooming… Everything is too much! When looking for a scratching pen, for example, you will come across a wide range of sizes, shapes, and materials. Learning to think like a cat can help you choose this important accessory.
A scratching post is essential for any healthy, well-adjusted cat. Cats need a place to scratch, so providing a scratching post can save your furniture, drapery, and carpeting from destruction. Cats use scratching post for stretching and exercise, so finding an appropriate post is critical to a cat’s health and well-being.
Claws can be found on both the front and back paws of cats. The back claws are mostly used for scratching and climbing, whereas the front claws help with prey capture and retention. Both the front and back claws can be used for defense if necessary.
Cat claws, like human fingernails, continue to grow throughout a cat’s life and must be trimmed on a regular basis. Most cats take care of this by using their teeth to pull on their rear claw sheaths, revealing the sharp new claws beneath. It’s easier to hook their front claws into something and pull downward, ripping off the old sheaths to reveal the brand new claws.
Cats in the wild usually sharpen their front claws on tree stumps or wooden fenceposts. If your cat has spent any time outside, he might appreciate a wooden scratching post to remind him of his time there. Some cat owners bring firewood or small stumps indoors for their cat’s enjoyment, while others purchase natural log scratching posts.
Another viable option is corrugated cardboard. Cost-effective cardboard posts are easy to replace and appealing to a wide range of cats. They are typically placed flat on the floor and may be accompanied by a toy to entice kitty to scratch at them. Because many cats enjoy cardboard blogposts and they are frequently quite affordable, first-time cat owners frequently start with this option before progressing to more elaborate and expensive cat furniture.
A post wrapped in rough sisal rope is another popular option. The sisal acts similarly to tree bark outside in catching the front claws, allowing the cat to pull downward and release the sheath, exposing the new claw beneath. Sisal publications cost slightly more than disposable cardboard publications, but they are more durable and last for years before needing to be replaced. Sisal-covered posts are popular among cats.
Some scratching posts sold in stores are covered with carpeting. While it serves the same purpose as sisal, it is frequently confused with carpeting found on staircases and floors in homes. Some cats may be unable to distinguish between the carpet on their scratching post and the carpet throughout the house. These cats frequently pull at carpeted stairs and floors, and switching to a different material post usually helps.
Most cats value the sturdiness and stability of a scratching post over the material used in its construction. Cats expend a lot of energy sharpening their claws, and if the post is unstable, they can’t scratch as hard. A sturdy base must be attached to a wood or sisal post so that it does not wobble when scratched by the cat. A shaky post can be nailed to a larger base for added stability. Cardboard blog posts should be large enough for the cat to stand on and scratch.
Another factor to consider is the height of the post. Cats reach up and pull down on the post, so it should be at least half the height of the cat to allow for stretching. The taller and more stable the post, the more likely it is that a cat will prefer it over a couch or armchair.
Finally, a cat’s acceptance of a scratching post is influenced by its location in the home.
By scratching prominent markers in their territory, outdoor cats leave scent and visual cues for other feline intruders. Many cats who scratch furniture do so for the same reason: they want anyone entering the room or home to know who is in charge. Placing a scratching post in a prominent location in the most used room of the house, even directly in front of the cat’s preferred piece of furniture, will often encourage the cat to scratch the posting to mark his territory.
Every demanding cat and owner can find an effective scratching post, whether it is made of cardboard, wood, or sisal, vertical or horizontal, simple or elaborate. Choosing a scratching and purring post for your cat can be an adventure.
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