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Why do cats need a scratching post?

Why do cats need a scratching post? Ginger cat scratching post and chewing on toy
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Why do cats need a scratching post? It may not feel like the first pet accessory you should be purchasing when bringing your new kitty home but, once those sharp claws have been let loose, the best cat scratching posts might soon become your saving grace!

A seemingly innocuous bit of equipment, this carpet-covered piece of wood may not look like the most fun thing to play with, but it will quickly become a regular feature in your cat’s daily life. As well as stopping your furniture from being ripped to shreds, getting cats to use their scratching posts is also great for their physical and mental wellbeing.

Whether it’s stretching out their muscles or socializing with other cats, here are five reasons why a cat scratching post should be at the top of your shopping list.

1. It's good for their health

One of the most important reasons to get a cat scratching post for your feline is to support and maintain their health. 

Whilst it might appear to be an unfavorable behavior or unsightly habit, scratching is really good for your kitty’s claws, helping to keep them in tip-top shape. This is because the scratching motion helps file away the outer layer of the nail, which may be dead or damaged.

Scratching is also incredibly beneficial when it comes to reducing stress, so it’s equally as important if you have more than one cat in the house that they each have their own so that they can scratch worry-free.

2. It will save your furniture

Any feline owner who may have made the mistake of not investing in a cat scratching post might have also had to buy new furniture since then, too.

The fact is…cats love to scratch.

That means, if you don’t have a designated scratching post, they’ll be looking for something else to sink their claws into. And it will more than likely be the edges of your couch!

But it’s not too late. 

Introduce a cat scratching post by making it more interesting than your furniture. You can do this by placing the post next to their favorite scratching place as well as using treats or catnip to help correct the problem cat behavior. 

3. Scratching releases energy

Why do cats need a scratching post? Cat lying next to scratching post

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Scratching posts are especially important when our favorite felines are teensy kittens. They provide these cute kitties with the opportunity to release a lot of built-up energy by putting them through the vigorous process of reaching and scratching. 

Having their own scratching post as soon as they are introduced to their new home is a wonderful way to help them adjust to their unfamiliar surroundings from an early age. 

The best type of scratching post you could give your kitten is one that also has additional toys hanging from it as this will help encourage both their playful and their hunting side. 

4. It allows cats to socialize

Even though it’s highly recommended for cats to have their own scratching post, it’s also encouraged for households with multiple felines to have at least one, communal scratching post that they can share.

This is because some cats will use this communal post as a meeting point to socialize with others or use it as a way to entice other felines to engage in play. Since all cats love to scratch, these posts are a great way to bring these animals together. 

5. A scratcher is great for exercise

Just like we do, kitties love a good stretch after a long nap. What better way to get their morning exercises in than with their scratching post?

When felines use their scratching post, you’ll often see them extending their front legs and pulling backward, giving their bodies a full-blown stretch.

It also releases “feel-good” hormones, since cats often scratch to mark their territory, too - both by leaving visual markings as well as their unique scent, which is released from glands in between the feline’s paw pads. 

So, what are you waiting for?

Treat your favorite feline to a wonderful cat scratching post so that you can sit back and watch your kitty reap the benefits (whilst also saving your furniture along the way!). 

What kind of scratching post do cats prefer?

Why do cats need a scratching post?

(Image credit: Getty Images)

So, now that you know some of the reasons why it's a good idea to invest in a scratching post for your cat, you may be wondering what kind of post to choose. Should you go for a horizontal or vertical post? How high should it be? And are sisal and jute better than carpet? Let's take a closer look at the kind of scratching post that's going to be best suited to your cat's claws.

Height

Did you know that scientists have actually conducted research into the ideal height for a scratching post? It's true! According to a recent study, if you want to encourage your cat to use their post, you'll want to opt for one that's three feet or higher. It turns out that the higher the post the less likely it is your cat will engage in undesirable lower-level scratching behaviors. 

Material

In the same study that surveyed 4,105 cat owners, 61% of owners said they provided their kitty with a carpet scratching post, 58% provided rope (sisal), 42% opted for cardboard, 15% went for wood and 4% chose another material. If you're thinking that those numbers add up to more than 100%, you'd be right - most pet parents surveyed had more than one scratching post.

The majority of those surveyed said that their cat's preferred to use a rope scratching post, which makes sense as sisal provides a much better scratching surface than all other materials, giving your kitty's claws the same feeling they get when they're outside scratching on a tree.

Vertical vs horizontal

The results are in and they're overwhelmingly in favor of vertical scratch posts with almost all of the pet parents surveyed reporting this was the post their cat preferred to use.

Don't discount horizontal scratchers all together though as these can be particularly useful if you have a kitten who might find a vertical scratcher too large and overwhelming or a senior cat who may be suffering from joint pain and mobility issues - a horizontal scratcher can be much more comfortable for these kitties.

Chloe Petrylak

Chloe is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, who has more than eight years experience in media. With a passion for creating content all about wildlife and the environment, she can be found at www.chloemaywrites.com or @ChloeMayWrites on social media.