While your cat’s scratching post will not dull their nails, it can file them down, gives your cat a great outlet for their scratching habitsThis keeps their claws and limbs nice and healthy.
A scratching post provides your cat with health benefits, enrichment, and keeps their paws busy.
When you adopt a cat, you make a commitment to care for them – and their claws! Your kitty uses their nails for many purposes, but you probably don’t want them shredding up your sofa.
Thankfully, there are ways to allow your cat to enjoy the natural habit of scratching while keeping your belongings from getting destroyed – such as by purchasing a scratching post.
How a Scratching Post Helps Your Cat
A scratching post is a type of cat-specific furniture that is specially designed to give your kitty something to scratch.
If you want your cat to be happy and healthy, implementing a scratching post is a great way to encourage that, and there are many benefits to it, such as:
1 – A scratching post won’t dull your cat’s nails, but it will file down the outer layers.
Your cat is a predatory animal who relies on their claws to survive. Even as a domesticated housecat, having strong nails is an important part of your kitty’s life.
Your cat’s claws are tough thanks to several layers that make up the nail. Every so often, the nail will shed, sort of like a snake. This is perfectly normal and allows for a stronger, sharper nail to come through.
In addition to being strong, your cat’s claws are also retractable, which means that your feline doesn’t have their nails out all the time. They can pull them back into their paw, which surrounds their claws with skin and fur.
Since your cat doesn’t always have their claws out, they need outlets like scratching posts to keep their nails filed down and to help break through the outer layer.
When your cat digs their claws into their scratching post, they can file the top layer of their nail to expose a sharper one underneath.
While this might sound like a recipe for even more scratching, it’s not! When your cat can safely shed their nails and exercise them in this positive way, they’ll be happier and healthier for it.
2 – When your cat has access to a scratching post, they’re less likely to dig their claws into your furniture.
If your cat is known for tearing up your furniture, then a scratching post can make a world of difference for you and your furry friend.
Your cat needs to be able to scratch things for many reasons, including to:
- Stretch and exercise their bodies
- Strengthen their muscles
- Leave their scent and mark their territory
- Help shed their nails
- Expel energy
Because of this, when you bring a cat into your home, you need to give them ways to scratch things that won’t destroy everything you own.
Buying a scratching post is one of the best ways to give your cat a proper outlet that lets them scratch up a storm without any limits.
If your cat has a reputation for clawing at your furniture, make sure to redirect their behavior to your new scratching post. You can do this by:
- Dangling a toy
- Spreading catnip
- Offering treats when they use the scratching post
- Redirecting your cat’s scratching from furniture to the post
Cats are very intelligent animals, so it won’t take long for your cat to catch on and start using their new scratching post regularly.
3 – A scratching post will help your kitty to stay in shape by offering an outlet for exercise.
Exercise is incredibly important for your cat’s health and well-being – and a scratching post can be the perfect opportunity for this.
Since scratching posts come in a variety of shapes and sizes, adding one to your home will give your cat a lot of different ways to get up and go, including:
Ensuring your cat is getting enough exercise and activity in their lives is an important part of maintaining their health and happiness.
Getting enough exercise will help your cat:
- Maintain their strength
- Stretch and tone their muscles
- Stay alert and aware
- Manage a healthy body weight
- Bond with you over playtime exercises
Overweight and older cats have a more difficult time feeling motivated to get up and exercise. A scratching post is a great option for your struggling kitty, since they offer a low-impact and easy-going method of exercise.
Of course, your cat might need a little incentive to get going – try dangling a toy or throwing some catnip near your scratching post for some bonus enjoyment.
4 – Your cat’s scratching post acts as a type of enrichment that will help them to feel less bored.
Cats are active animals who need things to do in their lives, otherwise they get restless and bored.
While felines might spend much of their day sleeping, it’s important that they have a variety of different ways to enjoy themselves when they’re up-and-about, especially if you’re not home to spend time with them all day.
Scratching posts are a great way to help ease your cat’s boredom since they offer them a fun way to work out their scratching instincts.
Some scratchers even have toys attached to them, but you can always add your own to ramp up the fun!
Scratching posts aren’t the only way you can alleviate boredom for your kitty. You can also try:
- Scheduling playtime with your cat throughout the day
- Offering plenty of toys for them to play with, including puzzles and interactive options
- Providing your cat with catnip and treats
- Rotating your cat’s toys so that they have new things to do
The best part about using a scratching post to enrich your cat’s life is that it not only relieves boredom, but it also offers so many other great benefits that both you and your cat can appreciate.
5 – A scratching post can be a great mutual ground for a multi-cat household.
If you have several cats, or you’re hoping to introduce a new one to your current kitty, then a scratching post can make this transition go more smoothly.
While cats have different personalities and behaviors, they all have a few things in common – including their love and need for scratching!
Offering your cats a scratching post can do wonders for their socialization with one another. Since all of them enjoy using the scratcher, it can work as a great common ground for your kitties to get to know each other.
At the same time, your felines could also find themselves growing territorial over their scratching post as they get used to having it around.
For this reason, it might be best to implement multiple scratchers so that all of your kitties can enjoy the fun at the same time!
Ultimately, a scratching post is a simple way to meet your cat’s needs without breaking the bank, and while keeping your home cat friendly. But what type of scratcher is best suited for you and your kitty?
Types of Cat Scratchers
There are many different types of cat scratchers and scratching posts available to purchase for your cat at local pet stores and online. They range in size, shape, style, material, and price range.
Most scratching posts combine cardboard, wood, sisal, felt and/or carpet to offer your kitty several different textures to sink their claws into. The type of material your scratching post has will also determine the stability of the structure.
Before you purchase the first cat scratcher you see at the store, consider all your options and what will work best for your cat.
1 – Traditional cat scratching posts have a wood base and a post that stretches several feet tall.
The most common type of scratching post has a sturdy wooden base with a vertical post that stretches approximately 2-3 feet tall. The post is usually wrapped in carpet or sisal for your cat to scratch.
This type of scratching post might also have additional features, such as:
- Feathers, strings, and other toys attached to the post
- A flat platform or platform bed at the top of the post
- A ramp or archway alongside the post
Depending on the size, structure, and materials of the scratching post, the price range averages between $20 and $50.
There are many benefits to the traditional scratching post, such as:
- It gives your cat enough room to fully extend their body and stretch out their muscles.
- Full-sized scratching posts are built to be stable and long-lasting, so you won’t have to replace it frequently.
- Scratching posts are simply designed to fit the aesthetics of any room.
So, what are the cons to your most standard scratching post?
- They can be spacious and require more room than other alternatives.
- Young kittens may struggle with an oversized scratching post.
- Large, older, or overweight cats may have difficulty with a scratching post that has a platform, bed, or ramp attached to it, making these features useless to them.
Scratching posts offer a wide variety of benefits alongside cons, and with this information, you can choose the scratching post that will give your furry friend the best experience possible.
2 – Cardboard cat scratchers are another popular choice due to their functionality and design.
An easy and fun option for your cat’s scratching needs is a cardboard cat scratcher.
Cardboard cat scratchers are made entirely from cardboard and paper materials. They come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and colors to enhance your cat’s scratching experience while also giving pet owners some neat options.
Typically, you can find cat scratchers in almost any shape, including:
- Miniature houses
- Infinity-style loungers
- Curled scratchers
In addition to these shapes, cardboard cat scratchers also come in different colors and themes. For example, you might find a cat scratcher shaped like Santa’s sleigh near Christmas time, complete with a red and green color scheme.
There are many benefits to cardboard cat scratchers, such as:
- Since these cat scratchers can come in so many different shapes and sizes, your cat might also use it to sleep and lounge on.
- Your cat will love the simple material and enjoy shredding it up with their claws.
- Your kitty will feel good about being able to visibly see their claw marks left on the cardboard.
Cardboard cat scratchers are an awesome choice, but they do have a few cons to consider as well:
- The paper material is not as stable and sturdy as scratchers made from wood, carpet, and sisal, so they might not be ideal for heavier cats or providing exercise.
- Cardboard is well-liked by cats but will be shredded more quickly and easily, meaning you’ll need to replace it sooner than other materials.
- The cardboard material can be messy when your cat scratches it, so you’ll need to keep up with sweeping and vacuuming it.
If you don’t mind a few pieces of cardboard to pick up at the end of a long day full of scratching, a cardboard cat scratcher is a smart and stylish option for your pet.
3 – Cat scratching mats are another easy way to implement an extra scratcher into your house.
If you don’t have the space for a scratching post or you’ve noticed that your cat likes to scratch a particular spot in your home, you might want to try a scratching mat.
Scratching mats are made from cardboard, wood, sisal, and/or carpet and vary in their level of sturdiness. They are specifically designed to be placed almost anywhere in your home, such as:
- Hanging from a doorknob
- Placed against a wall or piece of furniture using a light adhesive
- Leaned up against a wall or piece of furniture
There are many benefits to cat scratching mats, such as being:
- Great for conserving space and can be placed anywhere in your home.
- One of the most inexpensive options to supply your kitty with a place to file their nails.
- Able to be strategically placed in a spot where your cat usually scratches to help redirect that behavior in a positive way.
On the flipside, scratching mats do have a few cons to consider before purchasing one, including:
- Cat scratching mats aren’t typically as stable as other scratchers, such as scratching posts.
- A mat is not usually very thick, which means an especially destructive kitty might claw their way through it quickly.
- If you purchase a hanging cat scratching mat, there’s a chance it will end up on the floor anyway, depending on the stability of the mat and how excited your cat is to scratch it!
Scratching mats for cats hold their own since they make it easy to implement them into any household. If you need a quick, affordable way to redirect your kitty’s claws, a scratching mat is where it’s at!
4 – Scratcher toys are the perfect way to keep your kitty from getting bored without destroying your furniture.
With virtually endless options, scratcher toys combine fun with functionality to keep you and your cat happy.
There are tons of different cat scratcher toys available, such as:
- Cardboard scratcher boxes with toys inside
- Plastic balls with cardboard rings around them
- Hanging scratcher pillows
- Sisal scratcher toys
- Play mats
There are many benefits to scratcher toys, such as:
- There is a large variety of different toys available, so you and your cat have plenty of options to choose from.
- Cat scratcher toys can be bought in packs so that you can easily rotate new toys for your cat’s enjoyment.
- Since scratcher toys are so diverse, they are a great choice for any cat age group from kittens to older felines and work especially well in multi-cat households.
Like any of the scratcher choices, cat scratcher toys have some drawbacks to consider as well, including:
- Depending on the quality of the toys, they may be destroyed easily and need to be replaced quickly.
- Some toys provide more or less exercise opportunities depending on their purpose, so you’ll need to be picky about what kind to buy if your cat needs to lose some weight.
- Cat scratcher toys don’t offer your cat the same scratching and stretching opportunities that sturdier options do.
Whether you buy a pack of cardboard puzzle pieces or a ball chaser toy with a scratcher in the center, cat scratcher toys are the perfect way to get your kitty excited about a new outlet for their claws.
How to Keep Your Cat’s Nails Trimmed
While a scratching post might not make your cat’s nails dull, you can keep them short on your own by doing regular nail trims.
A nail trim allows you to clip down your kitty’s claws in a safe and humane way. Trimming your cat’s nails should never be confused with declawing – which is the act of amputating parts of your cat’s toe bones to completely remove the nails.
Not only is declawing painful and inhumane, but it also steals your cat’s ability to enjoy doing what they love the most – scratching things!
Thankfully, a set of nail clippers can help you to obtain the best of both worlds – your cat can still use their nails, but the impact won’t be as severe if they accidentally scratch you or your furniture.
All you need to trim your cat’s nails is:
- A pair of cat-specific nail clippers
- A towel or blanket to hold the cat
- Styptic powder in case you cut the nail too short
Trimming your cat’s nails is an easy process that only requires a few steps:
- Sit down with your cat in a calm and neutral environment where there aren’t any distractions or disturbances.
- Place your cat in your lap and wrap them in a towel/blanket if needed for support and comfort.
- Hold your nail clippers in one hand and your cat’s paw in the other hand.
- Gently apply pressure to the bottom of your cat’s paw beneath each toe. This will extend their claws outward so that you can easily access them.
- Identify the clear part and the pink part of the nail – only clip a small amount of the clear part.
- DO NOT cut the nail too short as you could accidentally hit the quick – the pink part of the nail. If you do hit it, you can apply pressure and use your styptic powder to help stop the bleeding.
- Take your time and don’t force your cat to sit through a nail trim if they’re scared. It’s okay to come back and finish clipping the rest of the nails later.
You should trim your cat’s nails every two weeks to maintain them. Nail trims also help your cat to shed their nails, just like using a scratching post does, and ensures they don’t become ingrown.
If you don’t feel confident in trimming your cat’s nails at home, you can also see a veterinarian or an animal groomer to clip them for a small fee.