Sandpaper Cat Scratcher: Is It a Good Idea?
Maybe your cat has been attacking your couch, and you’re looking to quickly make a DIY cat scratcher. You might be wondering if sandpaper is a suitable material. It’s cheap, you have some lying around the house, and logically, it seems like it might do a good job of helping your cat keep their claws neat. But is this material actually any good for a cat scratcher?
The short answer is no. Sandpaper is abrasive and could potentially hurt your cat’s paw pads. Let’s take a closer look at why this material isn’t often seen on cat scratching posts.
Do cats like sandpaper scratching posts?
In our experience, no. Of course, every cat is different, so there will be some cats out there that don’t mind the texture and feel of sandpaper. But given the choice, most cats will give it a wide berth. They probably won’t even walk over a piece of sandpaper left on the floor!
If you think that your cat might like sandpaper on their scratching post, then you can always give it a try. One reason cats don’t really like sandpaper on their scratching posts is that it doesn’t really help them achieve what they’re trying to do when they scratch.
Why do cats scratch?
If you’ve ever watched your cat scratch something, you might have noticed that besides trying to sink their claws into the material, they often lean down and have a good stretch while they’re doing it. Scratching is actually an instinctive behavior for our little feline friends.
This is a behavior that they innately carry out, and there’s nothing that we cat owners can do to stop them! So, what purpose does it serve?
- It removes the dead outer claw, revealing a new sharp claw underneath.
- It can relieve stress, anxiety, and tension.
- It stretches their muscles.
- It leaves pheromone scent marks.
Many cats enjoy using a few different places to scratch for different reasons. One place might feel great for having an upright stretch, where they can reach up high to stretch those muscles. Another might have a great material for sinking their claws into and removing the outer layer of their claws. Yet another may be just right for leaving a pheromone message for the other cats in the house!
As a cat owner, you should offer your cat a variety of appropriate scratching surfaces. This is especially important if your cat lives indoors, as they won’t have access to any scratching surfaces outside.
When it comes to which materials you should offer your cat so they can carry out their instinctive scratching behaviors somewhere other than your favorite couch, know that it’s unlikely that your cat would choose sandpaper as their first option.
Sandpaper is too abrasive
As a cat runs their claws down a scratching post surface, their paws usually make contact with the material of the post as well. This isn’t a problem with softer materials, like sisal rope or carpet, which are often used for scratching posts. But with sandpaper, the abrasive surface can damage your cat’s paw pads. This is especially true if you’ve used one with a coarse grit.
Your cat’s paw pads may become painful, and any abrasions might become infected. This will definitely put your cat off from trying to use the same scratching post again.
The best materials for cat scratching posts
Now that we know that sandpaper isn’t the best option for cat scratching posts, what’s a better alternative?
- Corrugated carpet
- Sisal rope or fabric
Some cat owners who have carpeted areas in their houses prefer to avoid scratching posts that are covered in carpet. It can be difficult for some cats to realize that while they’re positively encouraged to scratch the carpet on their post, all other carpet is completely off-limits!
Corrugated cardboard scratching posts are cheap and most cats really love them. The cardboard shreds satisfyingly under their claws, and as they sink their claws in, the outer dead layer of their claws will be removed.
Sisal rope or fabric is one of the most popular materials for scratching posts, and the majority of cats absolutely love it. It’s also relatively cheap and comes in a wide range of colors.
Wood is a good choice for a scratching post, although it’s not available as often as other materials. Cats in the wild will naturally choose a few different trees as their preferred scratching posts. Tree trunks allow your cat to stretch their muscles as they lean against it, as well as help remove the outer layer of their claws.
We have read of some cat owners who made their own DIY cat scratchers using a layer of sandpaper covered with a layer of thick corrugated cardboard. This protects your cat’s paws, as only the very tips of their claws will make contact with the sandpaper. Some cats seem to tolerate this fine, while others might not like the feeling of the sandpaper on their claws at ask. Also, it doesn’t seem like the sandpaper will have much effect in this instance, as the corrugated cardboard is doing what it should: allowing your cat to dig their claws in and remove the dead outer layers.
Sandpaper isn’t recommended for cat scratching posts
There’s a reason that you won’t see any cat scratching posts in pet stores or online that are covered in sandpaper. It isn’t the most appealing material for cats to scratch their claws against, and many of them do not like the texture at all.
Softer materials, like cardboard or sisal rope, are far preferable, as cats can sink their claws through these, which is what they’re really looking for in the perfect scratching post!
If you do decide to offer your cat a scratching post made with sandpaper, it’s definitely a good idea to make sure it isn’t the only surface available. Watch your cat closely to see how often they use each scratching post, and you’ll soon be able to work out if they like sandpaper or not!
Featured image credit: LeoNeoBoy, Pixabay