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What’s the Best Material for a Cat Scratching Post? 4 Types & FAQ

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

white cat and scratching post

We’ve all fallen victim to our cats scratching up our belongings. You get a brand-new leather couch one day, only to see your furry friend ripping it up the next. If you have ever experienced this, you already know the importance of providing your pet with a cat scratching post so they can sharpen their claws on something other than your furniture and carpets.

But when you’re searching for cat-scratching posts, how can you determine what material is best? Whether you’re making your own post or buying one from the store, you want to know that you’re making the best decision for your cat. Sisal is the recommended material by most experts.

Why Cats Need to Scratch

We all know that cats absolutely have to scratch, but do you know why? Also referred to as stripping, this behavior is a way for your cat to loosen and remove the husks of their claws. Think of it like a snake shedding its skin. It also develops muscle strength in your cat’s upper limbs to help them hunt. They need those muscles developed in order to catch prey.

Surprisingly, your cat might also scratch to mark their territory. This is a way to leave their scent, letting others know to steer clear of their domain. All felines have this urge, including large cats in the wild. It helps them with agility, precision, and muscle development. It’s technically a survival mechanism, keeping them physically capable and sharp.

cat scratching furniture
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Benefits of a Cat Scratching Post

  • It helps channel your cat’s natural need to scratch.
  • It saves your furniture, carpets, and woodwork.
  • It is an appropriate means of exercise, stress reduction, and claw maintenance.
  • It serves as a natural outlet for a kitten’s boundless energy.

The 4 Best Cat Scratching Post Materials

1. Sisal Fabric

Sisal fabric is a durable woven fabric that is incredibly hard-wearing for even the sharpest of claws. It shreds nicely, which is exactly what your cat desires. When they scratch, it dislodges the fibers, creating a terrific tear.

It also practically lasts forever, only needing replacements every few years. So, financially, it’s a great option.


2. Carpet

cat in the scratched carpet
Image Credit: Maliflower73, Shutterstock

When you think of a cat scratching post being made of carpet, it might make you a little concerned that they won’t differentiate between the two. After all, you wouldn’t want them clawing up your carpet in your home because they think that is acceptable.

This is possible, so you might need to supervise your cat in the beginning, but if you have a vertical cat scratching post made of carpet, it’s more likely that they will choose that type of surface over your carpet. These posts typically last up to 2 years.


3. Rope

cat scratching on its post

Rope is a prevalent choice for a cat scratching post because it is solid and long-lasting. It can handle cat scratches without unraveling or being destroyed. There are different thicknesses that you can pick too.

Sisal rope is a popular choice, but it might not attract your cats like some other options. These posts generally last up to 2 years, depending on how frequently it is used.


4. Corrugated Cardboard

Cardboard cat scratchers might not last as long as some other materials, but cats really love clawing them to pieces. Most of these scratching posts are horizontal, so you can have one in addition to a vertical post for optimal claw sharpening.

These scratchers are typically very inexpensive, which makes sense, since they last roughly 3 to 4 months.

Here at Hepper, we love cardboard as a cat scratcher material. We love it so much that we have designed our very own beautiful, modern-looking, and excitingly functional Hi-Lo Cat Scratcher. Purposefully crafted for feline satisfaction from solid birch plywood with a non-toxic gloss coating, it ensures exceptional sturdiness, making it a long-lasting addition to your home.

Hepper Hi-Lo Cardboard Cat Scratcher with Real...
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Hepper Hi-Lo Cardboard Cat Scratcher with Real...
  • Premium Materials - Hepper's cardboard scratcher is made with dense, B-flute cardboard, and a metal...
  • High, Low and Lower - A single cat scratch pad won't keep your cat engaged. 3 unique positions keeps...

With three positions, dense B-flute cardboard, and replacement options for even the wildest of scratchers, this scratcher offers style, engagement, and durability in one standout piece. Click here to learn more about our Hepper Hi-Lo Scratcher.

What Cat Age Says About Scratching Behavior

Good habits need to happen early on. As kittens, cats might exhibit scratching behavior more frequently. They are growing and developing, so it only makes sense that they scratch more often. It’s not unusual to see your cat climbing up your favorite curtains or ripping up your leather couch.

If you channel the energy appropriately when they’re very young, it can alleviate a lot of frustration later. However, if you rescued a cat or if you didn’t correct the behavior initially, it might be a bit more challenging to convince them that they need to use the scratching post. Still, it’s not impossible.

The Truth About Declawing Cats

To curb natural clawing behavior, declawing cats was routine and commonplace surgery up until recently. However, due to more advanced research, we now fully understand the consequences of this unnecessary amputation.

Imagine being under anesthesia only to wake up to your fingers cut off down to your knuckles. That is comparable to what declawing is for cats. It might seem simple to you, but it is an incredibly invasive surgery that can cause your cat pain for the rest of their lives.

Putting a Stop to Destructive Scratching

You shouldn’t have to put a stop to your cat scratching—this is unhealthy. Instead, you need to help your fur baby properly direct their natural impulses. It might take more convincing for some felines than others.

To try to curb the behavior, you can try to put these materials on vulnerable surfaces:

  • Double-sided sticky tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Upside-down carpet runners

You can also keep your cat’s nails trimmed, but be mindful of how short you clip them. If your cat lets you, you can occasionally put soft nail covers on their claws.

DIY vs. Storebought Scratching Posts

You might be surprised to know that do-it-yourself cat scratching post options are actually not as difficult as you might think. All it takes is a few supplies, an excellent tutorial, and a select number of tools, and you can have your own post made with love.

Plus, there’s a lot of room for creativity when you make your own. You can create intricate structures with an entire jungle gym of selections your cat can entertain themselves with. Also, you can use multiple types of scratching materials so your cats can explore the textures.

How to Find the Best Cat Scratching Post

There are a few things to keep in mind when you search for the best option for your cat:

  • The cat post should be sturdy. You don’t want your cat post moving around or bending. It might be less desirable for your cat if they can’t get an excellent grip to shred the material.
  • The material should be durable. If the fabric is too thin or brittle, it will tear faster, which means frequent replacements. That can take a toll on the wallet.
  • It should always be tall enough. Your cats need to be able to extend their bodies entirely, or they might not be satisfied.
cat climbing
Image By: Chewy, Unsplash

FAQ

Will carpet cat posts encourage your cat to scratch your carpets? 

It’s possible, but cat scratching posts, even ones made of carpet, will likely deter your cat from scratching your actual carpet. If your cat has a specific part of your carpet that they like best, put a scratching post over the area to encourage good behavior.

What is the difference between sisal rope and sisal fabric?

Sisal fabric tends to shred easier than sisal rope, so it’s typically more desirable for your cat. It provides superior resistance and leverage. But having a variety is ideal for your kitty’s entertainment, so both can work in many situations.

Conclusion

Now, you can get a good idea of what to select when you’re shopping for a cat scratching post. While sisal is the top-recommended material, providing multiple textures with different levels of resistance is best. Remember, if you have a particularly vigorous scratcher, use various methods to encourage good habits.

After testing all the options, you might find your cat has a particular preference over the others. Initially, it could take some convincing to get your cat to use a scratching post, especially if they’re older, but it’ll be well worth the effort on your part.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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