Have you ever thought of a scratching post as indispensable when you have a cat at home? This nondescript piece of furniture can help reduce some important concerns of cat ownership, specifically scratching behavior in cats. Having a scratching post or two around will give your kitty “legal” scratching surfaces instead of running their claws on your carpet or furniture and destroying valuable household items.
Scratching is one of the most misunderstood behavior of cats. It is a common reason for cats being abandoned or surrendered to shelters, declawed, or punished. But these are not solutions to the problem. These are inhumane! It is not what responsible cat parents are expected to do.
Understanding why cats engage in the behavior and love to run their claws on certain objects will enable pet owners to provide “legal” scratching surfaces for their pets. Here are important reasons for this instinctive feline behavior:
Scratching posts are available in various designs, materials, heights, and sturdiness. There vertical scratching surfaces while others are horizontally-oriented. The most common materials that are used for scratching posts include wood, corrugated cardboard, sisal, or carpeting fabric. Cats prefer material that shreds when they scratch.
Cardboard posts are often the choice of first-time cat owners because they are quite inexpensive. They are easy to replace and are usually designed to lie flat or angled on the floor. A horizontal cardboard scratcher should have enough space to allow the cat to stand on it and scratch at the same time.
Scratching posts that are covered with sisal rope is also a popular option. Cats love to run their claws on the sisal’s rough surface, also because the resistance feels great to their paws and claws. Posts covered with this heavy-duty material are more expensive than those made of corrugated cardboard. But since the material is durable, they often last for years before they need to be replaced.
There are also scratching posts covered with carpeting material. Cats love scratching the material because it is similar to the carpeting on floors and staircases. But when a cat continues to scratch at carpeted stairs and floors, experts recommend switching to a scratching post made of a different material.
The sturdiness and stability of a scratching post is also an important consideration. It matters more than the material that is used. A sturdy base ensures that the post won’t wobble or topple over when the cat scratches with gusto. An unstable scratching post can cause injury to a cat when it flips over. For taller posts, be sure to check that the bases are extra heavy to avoid unfortunate circumstances from happening.
The height of the scratching post is also an important factor to consider. The taller and sturdier the post, the better are the chances of your cat preferring the post to your carpeted floor or furniture. Tall scratching posts allow cats to stretch their body out fully and pull back their shoulder and back muscles, movements that promote flexibility and overall cat health.
Where the scratching post is placed inside your home can have a big say in your kitty’s acceptance of the post. If there are several cats in the household, it is a good idea to place scratching posts in places where cats usually congregate or spend time in. If your cat ignores a new scratching post, try rubbing some catnip or placing a treat on the post. You could also hang a toy mouse or any prey toy to pique your cat’s curiosity to make him approach the post to investigate.