Does your cat drive you crazy scratching up your furniture? Before you consider declawing or rehoming your cat, consider offering some more appropriate scratching solutions.
In the wild, cats scratch on the rough, upright surfaces of tree trunks in order to help their claws stay sharp. While scratching, tiny scent glands also release the cat’s scent on the surface being scratched, leaving a territorial scent mark behind.
For this reason, most cats prefer to scratch on upright surfaces that are rough or textured enough for their claws to grip. This can be your favorite sofa or armchair if you do not take steps to provide better alternatives.
Cardboard boxes are the least expensive, longest-lasting and most entertaining options. The larger the box the better, but you need a sturdy box that is big enough for your cat to crawl inside, stand up and turn around in. Tape the box entirely shut with packing tape and cut a hole in the side that is 5” x 5”.
Most cats will enjoy napping on top of the box, hiding inside the box and scratching like crazy inside the box, convinced that no one knows their ‘crime’ because they are scratching in secret. At Healing Hearts in Nashville, cardboard boxes are considered the most fun scratching toys because they make such a satisfying ripping sound.
Pet stores sell cardboard scratch pads for $7-$10 which some cats enjoy, particularly if you sprinkle catnip on them. However, with a heavy scratcher, these pads are quickly demolished.
A much sturdier and more natural version called the Emery Board is now available for $20. This cardboard scratcher rises in a curve shape that allows your cat to scratch upward in a more natural motion. It is designed with replaceable cardboard pads that are coated with sandpaper, which makes them last much longer. This is a nice option for older cats, who may not be strong enough to climb up a taller post anymore.
When selecting an upright scratching post, it is wiser to pay a few extra dollars for a sisal rope post rather than a carpeted one. The problems with carpeted scratching posts are that they do not last long and they encourage your cat to scratch on your actual carpet. Sisal rope scratching posts last much longer than carpeted ones. Make sure that the post you purchase has a heavy enough base that it will not topple easily.
If your cat is always standing up tall to scratch on furniture, then consider purchasing a cat tower or a tall scratching post. Your cat may simply like to stretch out when he scratches. PetSmart sells a tall sisal post for $35.
For extra-large cats, consider the Ultimate Scratching Post, an enormous and heavy sisal post, designed to withstand the biggest and roughest scratchers. When you offer more exciting alternatives, your cat will lose interest in the furniture.