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How To Choose A Scratching Post Your Cat Will Actually Use

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If you’re home is anything like mine, it’s full of things you’ve purchased that have been completely ignored by your cats. You buy them a cozy cat bed and they prefer to sleep in your basket of dirty laundry instead. Or you take the time to carefully choose the best toys, but they’d rather play with a bottle cap.

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Image: Fabienne D. : Flickr

Cats often have no rhyme or reason to what they love in any given moment. But when it comes to scratching posts, there are some factors you can take into consideration when you’re shopping that’ll make it more alluring. Cats have an instinctual need to scratch, so the trick is to make sure the scratching post you buy (and what you do with it once it’s home) is perceived by your cat to be a better option than the side of the couch or the carpet. So, what’s your cat looking for in a scratching post?

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Image: Monsieur Gordon : Flickr

Every cat is different and will have different scratching post requirements, but you may be able to glean some info based on her inappropriate scratching habits. Here are some things to take into consideration:

#1 – Texture
Your cat wants something she can really dig her claws into. Being able to be a bit rough and sink her claws in is how she sheds the loose layer from her claws. Most cats love the texture of sisal, a fibrous rope made from the agave plant. Sisal is a great option for you too, since it’s very durable and won’t have to be replaced very often. Many cats also love having a surface they can shred– that’s why scratchers made of corrugated cardboard are so popular.

If your cat is scratching the side of your couch, she may like something dense like sisal. If she’s digging into the carpet you can find a scratching post that’s also covered in carpet, or consider a softer, shred-able corrugated cardboard scratching pad.

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Image: Jennifer C. : Flickr

#2 – Height
Scratching isn’t only about claw health. Cats also scratch as a way to stretch and flex their bodies. When you’re choosing a stand-up scratching post, find one that’s tall enough to allow your cat to stretch her whole body.

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Image: iris : Flickr

#3 – Angle
One of the most important bits of information you can learn from observing where your cat is choosing to inappropriately scratch is the angle she desires in a scratching post. If she’s standing on her hind legs to scratch the side of the couch, she wants a tall stand-up post that will allow her to stretch while she does it. If she’s scratching the carpet, however, she’ll probably prefer a scratching pad that lays flat on the floor so she can dig while she scratches. You’ll have the most success with the transition if you choose a scratching post or pad that most closely resembles what she’s already choosing to scratch.

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Image: Mr.TinDC : Flickr

#4 – Stability
If your cat is standing on her hind legs and digging her claws into a post, you’ll want to make sure it’s stable enough to stay upright against her weight. Nothing will deter a cat faster than a scratching post tipping and frightening her the first time she uses it.

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Image: Jennifer C. : Flickr

#5 – Placement
In the beginning, at least, the new scratching post should be placed near or in front of the object your cat has been inappropriately scratching. You’ll want her to be faced with the choice between choosing the couch or choosing the scratching post so she can determine on her own that the scratching post is a better option. It can help to lure her in with a bit of catnip or catnip spray. Once it becomes a habit for her to scratch the post instead of the couch you can move it to a more desirable location. Don’t move it too far away though– it should still be easy for her to access from the area of your home she spends the most time in.

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