A cat scratching post should be at least 31 inches tall for your cat to get a full stretch of its body. A vertical scratching post is usually longer than a horizontal scratching post, because of the different stretching angle.
Certain tall cat breeds need a post that is 41 inches.
Choosing a scratching post for your cat may not be an easy task as it seems. You are confronted with dozens of shapes, and sizes. All the posts you buy don’t just seem to appeal to your kitty, and it still ends up scratching valuables in the house, like the couch.
In this article, I will highlight the importance of giving your cat a tall scratching post. Read more, to find out the main features of a scratching post that your cat will love.
Characteristics That Make a Good Scratching Post
1. Cats Want a Tall Scratching Post, but a Horizontal One Can Be Shorter
The length of the scratching post your cat needs often depends on how long your cat is. A vertical stretcher should be long enough to accommodate your cat’s body while it is stretching from its back paws to its front paws.
A post of about 31 inches will make your cat happy, and keep its claws from destroying your furniture.
A horizontal scratching post can be shorter because your cat sits on it, and at this angle, while its hips are bent, it can comfortably stretch.
Kittens will not mind if you buy them a short post. Most scratching posts on the market designed for kittens are about 20 inches tall.
Big cat breeds, such as the Ragdoll or Maine coon, need a tall scratching post of about 39 or 40 inches.
A tall stretching post exercises your cat’s muscles and forelimbs to keep it fit for hunting.
2. A Sturdy Post is Good for Your Cat
A cat’s claws need regular attention. They sharpen their front claws, by hooking them on a surface and pulling off the old sheath to expose new claws.
Since they put a lot of energy into this, they can’t do it right if the scratching post is unstable. The post needs to be attached to a sturdy base, so it won’t topple over the cat and hurt it while it is scratching.
Furthermore, cats scratch vigorously, and if the post falls time and again, this might discourage it from going to that post again. Get a post that offers more stability.
3. Choose Material that Appeals to Your Cat
Most of the scratching posts available on the market are designed to appeal to humans. Unfortunately, most cats will not find these attractive and resort to other surfaces in the home.
A lot of the scratching posts being sold are made from carpet material. However, this might encourage your cat to scratch on surfaces in your home with similar material.
Plus, carpet material is not rough enough, and the loops will stick on your cat’s toes. Sisal fabric is an excellent material as it is heavy-duty, and feels great under your cat’s claws.
Remember, from your cat’s point of view, the best scratching material is one that shreds easily under its claws. Sisal has a similar feeling for your cat as is tree bark.
Another great fabric is corrugated cardboard paper. It makes a loud noise when scratched, and this adds fun to your cat’s scratching habit.
How to Make a Tall Scratching Post From Sisal Rope
Scratching posts can be quite expensive, but the good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to own one. There are plenty of designs available as long as you use your imagination.
Most of the materials can be found from recycled items. The DIY project I am about to explain below is for sisal rope. But there are no hard rules here. Depending on your cat’s preference, you can also use cardboard paper.
You will need a few basic tools:
- One cedar post which is 31 inches tall and 5 inches in diameter.
- About 8 half-inch roofing nails.
- A bundle of sisal rope of about half-inch wide in diameter.
- 4 sinker nails.
- A pair of gloves.
- Use sandpaper to smooth the edges and the base of the post. Ensure the post is dry.
- While wearing gloves, wrap the sisal around the post. Use the roofing nails to nail at least 3 places at the beginning of the rope to keep the sisal rope from loosening.
- Continue to wrap the rope around the post tightly to ensure there are no spaces left in-between.
- Once you reach the end of the rope, nail at least 4 places at the bottom.
- To finish off, nail 4 sinker nails to join the bottom of the post with the plywood base.
- Now you have your simple home-made scratching post for your cat.
How to Prevent your Cat from Scratching Your Furniture
It’s a known fact of life; cats need to scratch. It’s normal and healthy for them. They do so for several reasons, such as to mark their territory, sharpen their claws, and stretch their bodies.
That means, if you don’t provide your cat with appropriate scratching surfaces, they will turn to your couch, armchair, drapes, or the carpet.
Cats are highly trainable, and you can teach yours to scratch appropriate surfaces. Avoid shouting at your cat, and don’t simply shoo it away when it wants to act on its scratching instincts.
Here are things you can do to protect your furniture while allowing your cat to express its normal behavior.
1. Provide your cat with plenty of scratching posts
One scratching post is never enough for your cat. Your cat will fully benefit from its scratching behavior if you provide it with a variety of posts, of different shapes and sizes.
It needs to scratch from different angles; vertical, horizontal, and diagonal posts alsodo the trick.
2. Position the Scratching Post in a Highly Visible Area
Cats need to scratch for multiple reasons, but adult cats display this behavior to mark their territory. Cat Behaviorist Pam Johnson -Bennet explains that when a cat scratches, it leaves its scent through the paw pads.
That way, if another cat comes near the object, it would smell these scent chemicals (Pheromones). Placing a scratching post in high-traffic areas can help to encourage appropriate behavior.
Probably you want to buy a post because your cat prefers to scratch off-limit items, such as the couch. Place the scratching post in a prominent place in the room. This will encourage your cat to scratch the post to mark its territory.
If your cat likes to scratch after waking up, consider placing the post near its bed.
3. Provide Your Cat with a Variety of Tactile Surfaces
Cats have different preferences. It is thus advisable to provide it with a variety of surfaces to scratch on. You can buy a cat tree that has different types of textures and levels.
Some cats will prefer soft textures, while others prefer a rough surface. A cat tree can have different levels of texture, such as sisal rope, cardboard, or uncovered wood.
This is a good idea to spice up their life.
4. Make the Posts More Attractive than Your Furniture
Position the post right next to that special furniture you don’t want your cat scratching. Your cat will likely use the post instead of destroying your precious furniture.
Spruce up your cat’s scratching post. These feline play items don’t have to be dull and boring structures in the house. There are plenty of stylish scratching posts available at pet stores that you can buy.
Look for modern cat towers for your kitty’s enjoyment.
5. Reward Your Cat When it Uses its Scratching Post
Offer your cat its favorite treat each time you see it using its scratching post. Rewarding this behavior trains them to continue scratching on these surfaces.
Even if they occasionally claw at your furniture, don’t scream at them. Doing so only scares them. Be calm when putting it on the post, and reward it for scratching there.
Studies have proved that positive reinforcement, which is rewarding acceptable behavior, works best when training cats, rather than punishing them for doing wrong.
6. Sprinkle Catnip on the Post as an Attractant
If your kitty is the one that goes nuts after a catnip episode, use it to your advantage. You can sprinkle some dried catnip on the scratching post, to encourage your cat to use its post rather than your furniture.
Use the catnip sparingly, as just a little bit of it, is enough to stimulate your cat.