Cats Scratching Posts

"Cats scratching posts are made from materials such as wood, sisal rope, carpet and cardboard. Cats may have a preference for one type with most preferring wood wrapped with rope. There are two types, posts and trees with cat trees providing multiple levels for climbing and scratching. Since cat's naturally climb and scratch, a tree is often the best option to keep your cat off of the furniture while providing an exercise option."

Cats scratching posts are essential equipment for your cat. A cat's claws grow in a way that is similar to human fingernails. The outside layer or "sheath" needs to be worked off. Your cat will do this by standing up on a scratching post and then pulling down on the claw. This will also keep the claws from becoming too sharp.

When introducing a new post you might want to rub some catnip on it to attract your cat. A cat leaves behind a scent when they scratch a surface. They tend to return to the scent to scratch again. Once your cat uses the post once they should return.

If you are trying to get your get to substitute a scratching post to avoid scratches to furniture then you need to remove the cat's scent. Buy an enzyme based cleaner which should do the trick such as Natumate Pet Stain & Odor Remover.

Selecting Cats Scratching Posts


A post needs to be taller than your cat when she stands on her hind legs with a full stretch. As indicated above your cat will pull down on the claws from this position. A shorter post will not work. If your post has levels for climbing, know your cat's preference for high places.


Cats scratching posts are usually made from either wood tightly wrapped with a thickly wound sisal rope, wood logs/poles, wood covered carpet and cardboard. Different cats may have a preference for different surfaces. One clue would be to look at where in the house your cat scratches. For example if they scratch a doorway then wood may be a safe bet, furniture resembles carpet and rope.

Some posts use a combination of materials so your cat can pick which one she prefers. When buying a post wrapped with rope, look for rope that isn't fraying and is 8mm gauge. Rope tends to be a favorite, but as mentioned, not for all cats. Carpet is a good second choice, but may be confused with other surfaces in the home such as your furniture. If you do buy carpet make sure it uses staples since glue is less durable and check that all sides of the post are carpeted, vs. just having carpet on the outside surfaces.


Cats like to scratch after walking. Locate the post where your cat spends of of her time.


Scratching posts come in two basic types, posts and trees. A post is usually a single upright post that your cat stands against on her hind legs while pulling down on the claws. A tree has multiple levels that allows your cat to climb, sleep, hide and perch. Cat's naturally seek places to be out of the way and survey a room from a high place, so trees can keep your cat of the higher furniture and happy with a place of her own.

Other Factors:

Make sure that the furniture cannot tip over. Cats are active and like to climb.

Recommendations for Buying Cats Scratching Posts



Sisal Rope Covered Post

SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post (32"H; Posts) is a sisal covered post that was a top pick by Cat Fancy Magazine. 

Cat Tree - Covered in sisal, bare wood or carpet. A multi level platform for cat clawing and climbing. Cat's instinctually like to climb onto different levels. A cat tree can help your cat fulfill their natural instincts. These widely range in price from $34 for two level posts to well over $100 for multi level trees.

Molly and Friends Four Tiered Cat Tree - A multi level tree that uses stapled carpet and sisal rope poles. 

Two Story Cat Tree - A lower priced option from Walmart that is well rated by users.

Corrugated Cardboard Scratching Pads

Cardboard Scratcher - Inexpensive approach that allows you to place pads in several rooms.

Build a Scratching Post

If you would like to build a scratching post, select a log or crate that has a height which is higher than your cat when she is standing on her rear legs and stretched upward. Cover the crate or log with a pad or wrap wood or a log with heavy 8mm thick braided jute sisal rope. Wrap the rope around the log. The log does not have to be free standing and can be nailed to a wall.

Cats also like plain logs in the way that an outdoor cat will scratch against a tree trunk.


Pam Johnson-Bennett, CABC
IAABC-Certified Animal Behavior Consultant