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What’s the Best Material for a Cat Scratching Post?

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

white cat and scratching post

We’ve all fallen victims to our cats scratching up our belongings. You get a brand new leather couch only to look over to find your furry friend ripping it up. If you have ever experienced this, you already understand the importance of providing a cat scratching post to sharpen their claws on something other than your door frames and carpets.

But when you’re in the search for cat scratching posts, what material is best? Whether you’re making your own or buying one from the store, you want to know that you’re making the best decision for your cat.

Why Cats Need to Scratch

We all know the cats absolutely have to scratch, but do you know why? Referred to as stripping, this behavior is a way for your cat to loosen and remove the husk of their claws. Think of it like a snake shedding its skin.

In addition, it also develops the 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 Cat Scratching Posts

The Truth About Declawing Cats

For years, to curb natural clawing behavior, declawing cats was routine surgery. Up until recently, this was considered commonplace. However, with more advanced research, we are now fully understanding 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.

What Cat Age Says About Scratching Behavior

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

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

Even though it might be a little more challenging, it’s not impossible.

Best Cat Scratching Post Materials

1. 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. After all, you wouldn’t want them clawing up your carpet in your home because they think that is acceptable.

When 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.

2. Sisal Fabric

persian cats on top of scratch post

Sisal fabric is a very 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 lasts forever as well—only needing replacements every few years. So, financially, it’s a terrific option.

3. Rope

cat scratching on its post

Rope is a prevalent choice for a cat scratching post because it is solid and long-lasting. Ropes can take away the building without coming unraveled or getting destroyed. There are different thicknesses that you can pick.

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

4. Corrugated Cardboard

white cat scratching folded corrugated cardboard
Image Credit: FOX, Pexels

Cardboard cat scratchers might not last as long as some other materials—but boy, do cats 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 3-4 months.

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 direct its natural impulses. It might take more convincing for some felines over others.

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

  • 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. Store-Bought 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 voila! You 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 that have an entire jungle jam of selections your cat can entertain themselves with. Also, you can use multiple types of scratching material 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 won’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 quick 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 Credit: Chewy, Unsplash


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

Cat scratching posts will likely deter your cat from scratching your carpets. 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.

Final Thoughts

Now, you can get a good idea of what to select when you’re shopping. Providing multiple textures with different levels of resistance is best. Remember, if you have a particularly vigorous scratcher, use other methods we mentioned to encourage good habits.

After testing the options, you might find your cat has a particular preference over others. Initially, it could take some convincing, but it’s worth the effort on your part.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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