Why do cats need scratching posts?

Cats scratch for a variety of reasons. The act of scratching removes layers of worn outer claws and reveals new, sharper claws. It also works as a way for cats mark their territory and warn other cats away. You cannot stop cats from sharpening their claws, but you can redirect them to more appropriate surfaces. Do note that this can sometimes takes a little creative planning in order to be successful.

Using a sturdy scratching post provides your cat with a surface for sharpening their claws and it keeps them maintained and comfortable. It also helps them identify an object and place that they can define as their very own. A scratching post can provide a form of stretching and exercise, and larger scratching posts and cat trees provide enrichment for indoor cats by giving them a place to climb, play and hide which provides them entertainment and exercise throughout the day.

Scratching posts come in a variety of styles and materials. If you consider the different kinds places your cat likes to scratch, you realize just how diverse a cat’s environment needs to be. Some cats prefer to scratch upright objects, while others like horizontal surfaces or scratch at an angle. They may like the roughness of your upholstery, the plush carpet, or the soft wood of your doorframe.

You may want to try these options instead of purchasing a pre-made scratching post:

  • If your cat loves the soft wood of your doorframe, consider making a simple scratching post out of soft scrap wood to keep his interest peaked.
  • Your cat may love to scratch the carpet, but that might also mean that he prefers a horizontal carpet scratcher instead of a vertical post.
  • If your feline really loves the feel of your upholstery, look for a remnant of fabric that is similar in texture and wrap it around a post instead.

Use the scratching post to block the spot your pet regularly claws, and encourage him to use the preferred place you have set up. Providing a few different places and materials can increase your chances of preventing inappropriate scratching, especially if you have more than one cat in the home—different cats will most likely enjoy different kinds of surfaces. They may also become territorial of their scratching post, so it’s a good idea to have several from which your cat can choose.

With a little creativity and patience, you can keep both you and your cat happy, and keep your furniture and carpet intact!

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