Scratching posts are a great idea, at least in principle. Give your cat a place to expend all that destructive energy, and save your furniture! Unfortunately, many cats are unsurprisingly persnickety, and more often than not after a first inspection your fancy new scratching post will never again rate so much as a glance. How can you convince your oh so discerning feline to actually use what you provide?
Cats scratch away at whatever is available to them in order to clean and sharpen their claws, an instinctive behavior they will engage in no matter how much you discourage them. It’s all well and good to tell them no when they have a go at your couch, but unless you provide them an alternative, it’s unlikely to stick. That alternative needs to be at least as good as your furniture if you want it to see use.
3 Key Elements of a Successful Scratching Post
Cats look for three things in their scratching spots: stability, size, and texture, and the generic posts you can buy at any pet store fail two out of three of these considerations. If you’ve ever really watched your cat sharpening their claws, you know they put their full backs into it, and all but the most solid of posts will wobble or even tip over under this treatment, especially for larger cats. Cats also like to reach up high and dig in with both claws at once, and most posts are a bit too short and too narrow for this treatment.
A quick look at on-line source will reveal an enormous number of plans for homemade scratching posts, of varying quality, and many do work quite well. If that’s your preferred route, look for one of the larger, heavier models. There is, however, an easier, cheaper option. You almost certainly have any number of surfaces in your house that meet the size and stability requirements, but are only missing the third consideration, texture, and this can be quickly fixed.
First you need your texture. If you happen to have any old pieces of shag carpeting lying around, those work well, but otherwise a well-textured sisal or fabric welcome mat is perfect in both size and material, and should be available for about ten or fifteen dollars at any home goods or hardware store.
Next you need a surface. An out of the way door frame is probably the best spot, but any really solid location will do. If you do use a door frame, it’s just a matter of wrapping the mat or carpeting around the bottom corner of the frame, and fixing it in place with a staple gun or small tacks. Running it lengthwise up from the floor will create a surface tall and wide enough for any cat, and pulled tight and stapled securely it will be as solid as your house itself. Don’t worry too much about damage, the tiny holes the staples leave can easily be fixed with paint alone, and even tacks will only require a swipe of filler. Now just introduce your cat to their new post, and hope they take the hint!
For less than twenty dollars and five minutes of work you can have a rock solid, easily replaced scratching spot that will hopefully have your cat turning up their nose at the inferior option provided by your furniture, rather than the other way around.