Every cat should own several scratching posts, of varying sizes, angles, and scratching surfaces. Scratching posts are essential to cats, for needed exercise, stress relief, and claw management, and will save wear and tear on furniture and carpeting, as well. With scratching posts, costs are not necessarily a factor, as the inexpensive corrugated cardboard pads are a favorite with cats.
Scratching is Normal
Scratching is important and more complex than you may realize. You may be under the... misconception that scratching is merely kitty’s attempt to sharpen his claws to razor-sharp perfection or that the behavior is based on a willful attempt to get back at you or destroy his surroundings.
In truth, scratching serves many purposes. In addition to conditioning the claws, it’s a very effective way for the cat to stretch his back and shoulder muscles.
Scratching also serves as a marking behavior for cats. The marks left on an object when the cat rakes his claws vertically create a visual sign for others who pass by. In an outdoor setting, these visual markers are important because they provide any approaching cats to see that they’re entering an area where another cat has been or is currently residing. This advance warning system can reduce the number of actual physical confrontations cats may otherwise have.
Choosing a Scratching Post
The height of the scratching post should enable the cat to get a full stretch. If the post is too small the cat has to hunch over to use it and that doesn’t allow for a good back and neck stretch. If that’s the case, kitty will probably seek out a taller option, and I’ll bet you can figure out what that option will be – your sofa! Make sure the tall post is also very stable. A tall post needs a wide base in order to prevent it from toppling over the first time kitty leans against it.
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Developed by a veterinarian, the Purrfect Post stands a sturdy 31.5" high, which gives cats the opportunity to really reach and pull when scratching - vital for the stretching they need. This post is surfaced with sisal fabric, considered superior to sisal rope as a scratching substrate. The 17.5" base gives added stability.
We've has our Purrfect Post for some time now and all three of our cats enjoy it. Jaspurr, in particular, loves to stretch tall.
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The Catit Hourglass Decorative Scratcher is relatively inexpensive. It is built on a sturdy hollow frame, measures 18 inches tall, and the base is 14 inches in diameter. The scratching material is corn husk and sisal rope blend. While the older cats have so far ignored it, Billy already has claimed it as his, and Jenny, his younger housemate, has yet to check it out.
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Like the Scratch Lounger, the Blitz Turbo Scratcher fits two needs in one. This product gets mixed reviews, but since some cats seem to love it, I'm including it for the variety it gives. The scratching pad is at the center of the ring, and a grooved track around the perimeter contains a ball cats can chase if they have a mind to.
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This scratcher uses a combination of a slanted post, carpeted frame and cardboard scratching surface inserts, for variety in cat's scratching fun.