No two cats are alike, and – as you may have discovered – no two cat scratchers are alike either! That’s because different cats like sinking their claws into different textures, at different heights, angles, and locations. So, it may take a bit of experimentation to find the scratcher that your cat will prefer using over your couch or your living room rug!
Let’s explore some of the choices you have when selecting a scratcher for your cat, and why some cats might prefer one kind over another.
What & Where Does Your Cat Like to Scratch?
If your cat likes to scratch the vertical surfaces in your house (like the arms of your sofa or your curtains) then a vertical scratching post is right for him. It’s important that you find a scratcher that’s at least 1/3 longer than your cat stretched out. Most commercial scratching posts are only 14″ to 18″ tall. This doesn’t allow your cat to fully stretch and extend when scratching. That’s one reason cats prefer furniture or carpet! Look for tall scratching posts measuring 30″ to 36″ or taller. Be sure the post is stable and sturdy. If it wobbles or tips over when your cat scratches and pulls at it, chances are he won’t use it again.
Does your cat scratch the rug or other horizontal surfaces? No amount of scratching posts are going to save your rug – you should be looking for a scratching pad or mat that gives your cat an appropriate horizontal surface to scratch on.
A majority of vertical scratchers made with sisal, a course natural fiber because it’s got a rough texture many cats find satisfying to scratch and it’s durable enough to stand up to lots of scratching. However, if sisal doesn’t suit your cat’s taste, you can find scratchers made of cardboard (another feline favorite), carpet, and even wood.
Cats in the wild use tree trunks as “nature’s scratching posts”, so if your cat has spent a large portion of his life as an outdoor cat, he might love to use a scratcher made from solid wood.
Most horizontal scratching pads are made from corrugated cardboard, which appeals to a majority of cats. Have you ever met a cat that didn’t like a cardboard box? They can range from an inexpensive rectangular pad to a fancy, modern, stylish scratching lounger. In fact, don’t think you have to buy a scratcher that’s going to look totally out of place in your home. This collection of modern, stylish cat furniture includes beautiful scratchers and cat trees with built-in scratching pads that would be an attractive addition to any cat lover’s home!
What If My Cat Won’t Use the Scratcher?
Remember, cats don’t just scratch to be destructive. Not only are they stretching their muscles, shedding the outer layers of their nails, and sharpening their claws, they also scratch to leave their scent mark. So your cat is probably scratching in the prominent, common areas of your home. You’ll need to place your new scratcher in the same area. It’ll do you no good if you shove it in a corner! Instead, put scratchers in common places in your home, where people and cats like to congregate – like near the couch (see why it’s so often a target of kitty claws?) If you have multiple cats, provide multiple scratchers, and remember that some of your cats might prefer different types of scratching surfaces.
If your cat is currently digging her claws into your couch, put your new scratching post as close to the couch as you can. Make her current scratching surface undesirable to her by covering it with a blanket, aluminum foil, or double-sided tape. When she’s consistently using the scratching post instead of the couch, you can very gradually (a few inches a day) move the scratching post to a more suitable location. But, it’s best to keep it in the general area.
If your cat is scratching your rug, put a large scratching pad right down on the rug where she scratches! Remember, this is temporary! Once she’s using an appropriate scratcher consistently, you can move it to a better location.
You can entice kitty to try a new scratcher by sprinkling it with catnip or giving it a spritz of catnip spray. Always reward your cat for using an appropriate scratcher and never punish your cat for scratching an inappropriate surface. Instead, redirect your cat to use the scratcher. Finally, avoid the urge to throw away a scratcher after it’s a little shredded. In your cat’s mind, that’s when it’s “broken in” (and that’s why it’s harder to get a cat to stop scratching your couch once he’s started!)
With these tips, you’ll be able to find the purr-fect appropriate scratching surface that will make you – and your cat – happy! Come back and let us know what you chose!