Believe it or not, a scratching post is vitally important for your cat’s health.
Most people primarily look to buy a post to give their feline an alternative to the expensive living room sofa or curtains. And this is certainly a valid reason to get a cat scratching post.
However, a post on which to scratch allows your cat to satisfy its intrinsic primal urge, properly stretch its claws, mark its territory, and shed the outside layers of its claws, all of which are important for the cat’s health.
Cat Scratching Post – Factors to Consider
First, you should look for a sisal scratching post. Sisal is a very tough, fibrous material. This material allows a cat to scratch as rigorously as he or she may like, which, in turn, promotes healthy claws.
A second important consideration is to buy a post that is sturdy. Experts point out that if a cat scratches on a post that falls over, or is wobbly and unstable, it will stop using it and look for other places to scratch — like your couch.
Two possible solutions are to buy a post that has a large bottom surface area so that it is difficult to knock over, or you could simply find some way to secure the post to the floor. Some people will even nail the post down so it becomes impossible to topple.
A third important factor is to buy a cat scratching post that is fairly tall — approximately two feet or so. This is because cats like to fully stretch themselves using the post. Therefore, if your post is too short, your cat may end up scratching another piece of furniture in your house that allows him to stretch his torso completely. The sisal scratching post above is 20 inches, which will allow most cats to achieve a full stretch.
Additional Tips and Strategies
Trying to train your cat to use the scratching post?
Experts point out that you should not punish or hit your cat if it scratches something other than its post. Cats do not understand punishment. Therefore, taking this approach will be futile in teaching your cat to use its post to scratch – and may cause your cat to distrust you.
What works is positive reinforcement. For example, if you buy a sisal scratching post, place it near an object the cat normally scratches. Then, try to engage your cat by playing with it near the post. When your cat scratches the post playfully reward its actions with a cat treat, or other positive reinforcement.
This will teach your cat that good things happen when he or she uses the post to do its scratching.
Another method that worked well for us personally was rubbing cat nip all over the scratching post. The scent attracted our cats and soon they were scratching away at it.
Within a few days, they had learned to scratch the post to the exclusion of all other furniture in the house.