Cats need to scratch. Period! When your cat raked its claw across your new sofa, it was not trying to avenge you for not giving into its demand for treats, nor was it trying to sharpen its claws for better sticking its claw into you the next time. Cats scratch for a variety of reasons. First of all, like human nails, their claws continue to grow throughout their life. They keep the length in check by gnawing on their rear claws and scratch their front paws on hard surfaces to remove the dead outer layer. It is also a way for cats to mark their territories by leaving visual scratch marks and olfactory marks on prominent places where other cats can easily sense them. A good scratch also provides excellent physical exercise for the whole body, allowing the cat to stretch out its body, feet, and paws. Cats also scratch when they need to release pent up emotions. It is common for a cat to scratch energetically after greeting its owner home from a long day away.
The availability of suitable scratch surfaces will make a happy and healthy cat and a contented owner with intact furniture, curtain, and carpet. If you are in the process of getting a cat or newly acquire a cat, it is wise to spend some effort to look into their scratching needs ahead.
If a cat is allowed to roam outdoor, the cat is likely to find its own favorite scratching surfaces, be it a tree trunk or a wooden fence post. If a cat spends most of its time indoor, a good scratching post or two is a must. You can move a natural log or tree trunk of optimum height and weight indoor for the enjoyment of your cat. There are also a variety of scratching posts in the stores with mind-boggling shapes and designs. Store bought scratching posts are usually separated into corrugated cardboard base, rough sisal rope base, or soft carpeted base. Many cats enjoy scratching on corrugated cardboard scratching boards or posts. It is less expensive and come in various intriguing shapes, good for lying on or hide in as well. A post wrapped with sisal rope provides similar scratching sensation to the cat as scratching on a tree stump. Scratching posts with sisal rope are usually more expensive but they are value for money in the long run as they are very durable and hardy. Scratching posts surfaced with carpet material may appeal to human but may not be the best choice for cats as the soft surfaces not only do not provide adequate friction, but the thread loops may tangle the claws. The other point to consider is a cat may not be able to differentiate a carpeted scratching posts with your carpeted staircase or carpeted floor or even sofa upholstery and proceeded to scratch on all surfaces.
Another important point to consider is that the post must be tall(for vertical posts), or long(for horizontal posts), and wide enough to allow full body and limbs stretching of the cat. Cats usually will scratch with gusto, so it is crucial that the posts are stable and do not wobble or tumble over with the cats full weight leaning on to them. If you are unsure which type of scratching post is most suitable for your cat, you may seek professional opinions or spending some time observing the behavior of neighboring cats or friends’ cats to gain some ideas.
After you have finalized on the scratching post(s) and brought it home. It is best to place the post next to the cat favorite resting place or where it likes to make its marks. Do not forcefully introduce the cat to the post by holding the cat next to it but let the cat discovers the post naturally. You can increase the success rate by placing catnip or a few cat toys on top or near the post to entice the cat to explore. If you have more than one cat in the house, each cat likely wants to stake a claim to a different post.
Finding a perfect scratching post that suit both the feline friend and the owner may take awhile but the reward is very much worthwhile.