A scratching post is an indispensable tool for the well-being of your cat, especially if they don't have access to the outside.
To the pleasure of your pet friend, and therefore, yours, there exists a large range of scratching posts to suit you and your tabby: materials, colours, shapes and durability - nothing is left to chance. Here are some tips for choosing the right scratching post for your cat.
Why does my cat need a scratching post?
A natural need
The behavior of your cat, including scratching, is natural behavior that contributes to their well-being and their health. A cat who doesn't scratch will have claws that are too long and will therefore cause your cat discomfort, even to the point of infection. It's therefore a very real physiological need that allows your cat to eliminate the superficial layers of their claws. Also, don't forget: your cat's claws are a way for them to defend themselves against danger, to hunt, and to climb. For this, their claws need to be sharp.
In addition, cats scratch objects in order to mark their territory. So in fact, in displaying this behavior, your cat is showing that they are in their home and wish to make that clear. They show this with a visual marker i.e. the scratches. But your cat also leaves olfactory markers with their pheromones that are placed on the future during scratching.
Avoid fuss and bother with a scratching post
Have you had enough of seeing your sofa scratched to bits or other pieces of furniture damaged by your four-legged friend? Forbidding or punishing your cat may not resolve the problem and could even provoke anxiety towards you in your cat. However, displacing their scratching behavior to a scratching post that is adapted to their claws is a solution, particularly if your cat doesn't have access to the outside. The most important thing is to react quickly.
You can also defend an area that you don't wish your cat to scratch by placing an obstacle in front of it, placing a cloth their or even a foil cover (cats don't like the noise they make). In conclusion, the best thing for both your cat and your furniture is to get them used to a scratching post which will prevent problems of this kind developing in the future. In addition, it is even possible to have more than one scratching post in your home - your cat won't know where to turn their head to.
The scratching post for my cat
Know your cat
In order to know what kind of scratching post would best suit your cat, all you need to do is observe your cat: what kind of hidey-holes do they like? What materials do they play with the most? Most cats seem to like vertical scratching posts that allow them to stretch: they are usually about 30cm high. However, older cats sometimes prefer horizontal scratching posts for comfort.
If your cat can't resist scratching the corner of your sofa or furniture, there are also angled scratching posts that are sold with fixing kits.
How to get your cat to scratch the scratching post
If your cat doesn't spontaneously go to the scratching post, here are some useful tips. Firstly, find a strategic position where it would be very visible to your cat. If your cat usually scratches one particular piece of furniture, place the scratching post in proximity. You will then be able to move it progressively towards a place that suits you better but don't forget that this new spot must also suit your cat.
Then, if your cat still doesn't seem to want to use the scratching post, sprinkle a couple of drops of olive oil on it: cats love the smell. You can also rub some cat grass on the scratching post. Then press your cat's paws delicately to the post in order to let them place their odor on it and they will come back more willingly next time.
Different types of scratching posts
Store-bought scratching posts
If you are leaning more towards a commercially-sold scratching post, you will definitely not lack for choice because the selection online and in-store is vast. Research and application has gone into producing specially prepared scratching posts that will please your cat as well as yourself. There are scratching posts made of cardboard, vinyl or even plant-fibre cord scratching posts. It is important to note that scratching posts made of cardboard will become used up far quicker than those of other materials if your cat is a vigorous scratcher.
Whether your scratching post is shaped like a stick, wave, cheese or even a sofa that your cat can sit on, your cat will appreciate it! If you travel a lot with your cat, there are also scratching posts that come in kind of rug form that can be rolled up and easily placed in a suitcase. And finally, the luxurious alternative is for your cat to climb whilst scratching - a cat tree. In this way, your cat will also be able to sit up high, watching their loyal subjects pass by below.
DIY scratching posts
If you are creative and full of inspiration, you could try your hand at making your own scratching post, and for next to nothing. Here are two examples:
1. If you have just moved house and are a rather patient, you can cut up cardboard and stack them up, sticking them together as you go. Just make sure that you secure these using a metal pole down the middle like a spine, and the only thing left to do is to let your cat have at it!
2. Another idea is to make a scratching post with the help of a stack of wood, some thick twine, some nails and some paint to give it the right aesthetic effect. Paint your block of wood, then nail one end of the twine to the back of the wood. Wind the twine around the block of wood, making sure to press the strings tightly together, and then nail the other end of the twine also to the back of the block. The only thing left to do is fix it to the wall so that your cat can't bring it down!