Updated April 13, 2020 – New (or experienced) cat owners often wonder – does my cat REALLY need a scratching post? Is it just a waste of money? In this article, we’ll delve into all the reasons why a scratching post is so important for your pet cat. And, we’ll also show how getting one early on – when your cat is just a kitten – is a great time to train them to use them to scratch on – rather than your beautiful furniture!
What is a scratching post?
Simple – a scratching post is generally a single piece of wood that is covered with some sort of material that allows your cat to scratch it – and not completely destroy it right away! Scratching posts can also be more elaborate, of course – and some have a few posts built into one unit, which is great for a multi-cat household! The type of durable material usually covering the scratching post is either heavy-duty carpeting, or sisal rope. Sometimes a scratching post may also be made up of cardboard. (I’ve had better success with the first two though, to be honest.)
Behold! A basic scratching post – albeit one with a cute toy hanging from it for kitty to play with. Click on the photo to get more info.
The qualities you need to look for in a well-made post is that it is durable, and that it is sturdy enough that even a rambunctious cat or kitten can scratch away on it with all their might, and not have the whole thing tip over! So, be sure that the scratching post has a nice, sturdy base to keep your pet safe.
So, why does my cat need a scratching post?
Right – it all comes down to why your cat scratches in the first place. New cat owners might think that scratching is some sort of rebellious behaviour on the part of their pet. But, they couldn’t be more wrong! Scratching removes the outer, old layer of a cat’s claws – revealing sharper claws beneath. This is part of how a cat grooms himself. This is just how they’re made, and the instinct to scratch is therefore strong. Plus, it’s one way that cats mark their territory. And, I know from my boy kitty, Milo, that he scratches as a way to release tension and stress. AND even when he’s all happy about something – I’ll find him scratching away on one of his cat posts! It’s quite a beautiful thing to see.
Cats need to scratch. But, if you cherish your furniture then you’ll want to train your cats to scratch on something meant for that purpose. And…welcome the scratching post! You can choose a cat tree that has a scratching post or two implemented right in the design. Or, a simple scratching post on its own will suffice nicely.
This is a bigger, badder version of a well-built scratching post. Great for larger cats! Click for more info.
Training cats to use a scratching post
Yeah, I know – I sort of chuckled when I wrote ‘training cats’, too! We all know that cats aren’t exactly like their dog counterparts – they don’t naturally take to training to do anything at all! Stubborn little critters – and that’s just one more reason we love them! That being said, the younger you TRY to train a cat to use a scratching post the better. When they are scratching on the carpet or a piece of furniture – gently remove them and place their paws onto the scratching post. Perhaps reward them with a treat when they do in fact scratch where they’re supposed to!
The more you reinforce your pet’s good behaviour, the more they’ll use their scratching post. I know, I know – but they are cats. Also known as: incredibly stubborn beings. But, keep trying your best, and over time your pet kitties will probably come to love their scratching post. I’ve seen this to be true over and over.
Cats need a scratching post
In summary then, cats definitely need a scratching post! They are available in a wide range of sizes and prices, so your budget can be stretched to accommodate the purchase. And then, your favourite cat pal can also stretch out, and have a wonderful old scratch!! Which will help them ease their little feline minds, and mark their territory as home.