How to choose the best cat scratching post for your cat

Cat scratching posts are available in a million shapes and forms. But how do you choose the best cat scratching post for your cat?

tall and sturdy cat scratching post
Best cat scratching posts are tall and sturdy. Photo by serezniy.

Obviously, if your cat does not use the post you brought home, it’s a useless post. It’s not only a waste of money but also prevents you to solve your cat’s scratching problem.

Here is a list of properties of a good cat scratching post:

  • Vertical and horizontal posts. Most cat scratching posts can be divided into two sections. Vertical (the usual ones) and horizontal. Latter, technically are not posts, they are pads. Normally, you have to look for vertical posts that meet the criteria listed below. However, if your cat claws the carpet, get a horizontal pad or two in addition. First, it’s evident that your particular cat loves to scratch horizontal surfaces. More important, however, you can place these pads on top of the spots your cat scratches. Therefore your cat will lose access to these locations and, hopefully, will turn to pads, instead.
  • Cat trees, posts and wall pads. Next thing is that among all options you also have to choose between large cat trees, smaller posts and pads that can be attached to the wall. We recommend you to have a mix of different types. Place a large cat tree in the central room and additional rooms that your cat spends most of the time. Additional smaller posts near furniture your cat scratches and wall pads at places your cat frequently walks by. How many of each depends on what you can afford both financially and in terms of home space. Also, if you have several cats, you need more scratching posts.
  • The size of the post. Vertical posts must be tall. Cats scratch for several reasons and one of them is exercise. A cat naturally drives his claws into the scratchable surface and lets his own weight pull him down. This way a cat receives full-body stretch, which includes front legs and the back. To do this, the scratching post must be tall, so a cat can reach up and, let’s say, hang in there. Of course, not every single post that you have must be tall, but some of them must. A good extra solution is to attach scratching pads to walls at different heights.
  • Post must be sturdy. It should hold against the cat’s weight and not fall over or wobble too much. Cat trees are usually fine in this area, but standalone posts may not hold the promise. When you choose a scratching post, make sure its base is large and heavy. Don’t be afraid to test them in a pet store. No, you don’t have to bring your cat along. Try to assess how strong your cat would pull on it and do it yourself. Notice how good the post holds up and ignore weird looks by other customers.
  • Sisal and wooden surface. You are likely to find posts covered in different materials, but not all oft hem are equally good. We highly recommend scratching posts covered in sisal rope, which is also the most popular material. For one thing, they are durable. Scratch surfaces will have to withstand serious load and sisal ropes are good in this field. Besides, when they wear out, they are easy to replace.
    sisal rope on cat scratching post
    When sisal rope wears out, it can be easily replaced. Photo by Andrew Malone, cc

    Though more important than durability, the cat must like the surface. If you’d want to file your nails, a soft carpet wouldn’t do. Sisal rope, that’s more like it. In the wild cats scratch wood, thus a post which has bare wood for scratching surfaces may work well depending on the cat. If your cat destroys wooden furniture, he will love wooden scratching post, too. Cardboard is also a common choice, though they must be frequently replaced, which is why we do not consider them ourselves.

Some final notes are that a good cat tree will not be cheap. Making a sturdy base and a tall post takes resources and time. At the same time, a huge price tag does not automatically guarantee a quality product. Besides, posts that look classy, will have an additional price for their design. Good design does not mean a good cat tree. Design is for you, your cat may not appreciate it.

A thing that we cannot praise more: if you are good at making things your own, cat scratching posts is a perfect field for DIY. You will not only save money but may have the potential to make a way better cat scratching post than the average ones on the market.