How to select the best scratchers for your cat(s).
It’s really important to understand that scratching is a completely normal feline behavior. You can’t stop cats from doing it; it’s instinctive.
Cats scratch for a variety of reasons: to sharpen their claws, to mark their territory, to reduce stress and to exercise. Scratching also helps strip off old claw sheaths to reveal the sharp new ones underneath. Cats will scratch their claws on anything that feels good, which is why your kitty claws the upholstery on your favorite chair.
So scratchers, whether they are tall posts, horizontal corrugated cardboard “beds” or fun-shaped feline furniture, apart from keeping claws in check, also help keep cats’ front leg and paw muscles toned and healthy.
The only way to find out if your cat is a vertical or horizontal scratcher is to experiment with different designs. My cats like both. Consequently, I have various scratching posts all over the house—seven in total.
When it comes to vertical posts, I like sisal-covered ones the best or those using other natural fibers such as sea grass or even real bark. They are very durable. Carpeted posts could lead to bad habits because cats often can’t distinguish between the pile on a carpeted post and your expensive Persian rug.
When it comes to upright posts, look for one that has a nice solid base and is taller than your cat, so that she gets a good stretch at the same time. Manufacturers of corrugated scratchers are really putting thought into their designs and creating fun feline furniture in all shapes—from a chaise lounge to large vertical triangles and figure-eight designs—that will give your cat both horizontal and vertical scratching options.
It’s always a good idea to position a scratcher near a favorite nap spot because cats like to stretch and scratch after a good snooze. This is one way to keep them off your furniture and doorframes.
The best way to get your cat to try out a new scratching post is to use it yourself. Make sure that your cat is watching and run your fingernails down the post a few times. Chances are her copycat instincts will kick in and she will imitate you. If she’s still a bit hesitant, rub a little catnip on the post. That should definitely do the trick.
I have to end with a note about declawing. Declawing is NOT the answer to furniture preservation. Having lots of scratchers and training your cat to use them is the way to go.
Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat’s toes. It’s an inhumane, drastic measure and a very painful surgery. During the recovery time, cats don’t have the luxury of lying in bed and being waited upon; they still have to walk about. Ouch! And, without claws, a cat cannot grasp or hold anything or establish proper footing. Fortunately, declawing is banned in many cities and states, but it has yet to be outlawed nationwide.
About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat,” “For The Love of Cats,” and “The Original Cat Fancy Cat Bible: The Definitive Source for All Things Cat.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats