The 10 Best Scratching Posts
This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in July of 2015. Whether you have a new kitten or a beast of a cat that loves to destroy furniture, a scratching post can be a godsend. They help to satiate a feline's instinctual need to scratch while also maintaining their nail growth and physical health, so they can have a romp without even knowing it's good for them (while saving your favorite chair). When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best scratching post on Amazon.
Save Your Stuff From The Scratch
Well, the first thing that manufacturers look for when designing a scratching post is a good material.
If you do that, though, I'm probably going to come after you.
If I had a nickel for all of the couch and chair arms, pant and table legs, vinyl record sleeves, cabinet corners, suitcases, and mattresses that my cats have clawed to shreds over the years, I could buy scratching posts for all of your cats. I might even have done it, too, if somebody had been around to give me all those nickels.
The fact of the matter is that cats love to destroy your stuff with their little razor blades, and if you don't give them some alternative outlet for their aggression, you're going to have to spend a lot of money replacing things. Or, you could get your cats declawed. If you do that, though, I'm probably going to come after you.
How exactly is it that these posts are designed to work? Well, the first thing that manufacturers look for when designing a scratching post is a good material. Cats need to feel their claws digging into something, and that something can't just disintegrate after a week or two of use, otherwise you're quickly going to jump brands to something more durable. Most scratching posts are made of tightly woven carpet material or sisal, an incredibly durable fiber derived from cacti.
You'll also notice that some of the scratching posts on our list include perches for your cat to post up and survey his or her territory. These are invaluable ways to increase the vertical space for an indoor cat who doesn't have a lot of horizontal room to play.
To keep the scratching posts on our list from tipping over from the force of the clawing and the pushing and pulling of your cat's weight against them, manufacturers either use wide, weighted bases or overall shapes like a triangle that will naturally increase stability.
Scratching Your Cat's Itch
Your cat is definitely a unique creature with his or her own preferences and personality traits. To imply otherwise would be a foolhardy insult. Equally undeniable, however, is that your cat is a member of the cat family, and cats share traits that make a large quantity of scratching posts satisfying for all breeds and personalities.
With that in mind, the first thing you should consider when evaluating the scratching posts on our list is the overall footprint of each unit. I've lived with cats in pretty small apartments, and I've lived with cats in pretty big houses. In smaller places, giant, towering scratching posts become the only thing anyone sees in a living space.
If your cat's a big climber, a multi-tiered scratching post might be the way to go.
If you don't want your cat ownership to imply or result in the kind of loneliness often humorously associated with so-called cat people, it'd be a good idea to balance the size of the scratching post you select against the size of your space.
Once you get a sense of the appropriate size scratching post for your home, you can start to think about your cat's behavior and try to make a choice with that in mind. If your cat's a big climber, a multi-tiered scratching post might be the way to go. Be careful, though. If you've done a good job teaching this climber how to keep off of the furniture or the table tops, the freedom a tall scratching post provides might just break their training.
If you have what I like to call a "floor model" cat, one who prefers sprawling out on the ground over reigning high above it, you're probably better off with a lower-profile scratching post. Not only will it satisfy your cat's need to scratch, but it'll also keep itself neatly out of the way. The one downside to these is that they don't provide your cat the opportunity to stretch and elongate their bodies in tandem with the act of scratching, which is preferable for a cat's physical and psychological experience.
Domestic Bliss; Instinctive Behavior
At least 12,000 years ago, as human beings began to develop agrarian cultures in the Fertile Crescent, the wild cat began its long, slow haul toward domestication. It was a symbiotic relationship: farmers stored grain that attracted mice; wild cats came, moved themselves in, and ate the mice.
These are carnivores, remember, and many of them still kill birds and mice in the wild.
In the wild, cats lived in the trees, sleeping in high perches and climbing all over the place. In order for them to maintain a solid grip in the bark of their natural habitat, they developed strong, sharp claws. In part to keep these claws sharp, and in part to strengthen their beds, cats naturally developed the tendency to scratch.
Even millennia later, as the more docile breeds of cat outlived and out-evolved their more feral brethren, the domesticated cat still prefers high perches. It also still feels that instinctive urge to scratch, to strengthen its claws for a climb that it'll likely never have to make.
Still, that urge to scratch, often accompanied by a slow, luxurious stretching, remains as a preparation ritual before a would-be hunt. These are carnivores, remember, and many of them still kill birds and mice in the wild. For indoor cats without the opportunity to track and kill live prey, these devices have become even more important, as carpeted surfaces and hardwood floors provide next to no natural wear on a cat's claws, allowing them to grow to uncomfortable lengths if you don't regularly whip out the cat's nail clippers, an event they don't tend to enjoy.
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