Best cat scratching posts 2024 to keep your furniture safe

Cat scratching one of the best cat scratching posts
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Investing in one of the best cat scratching posts will help to prevent your cat ruining your furniture, carpets, and even walls – because, let’s face it, they love to scratch. Simply place one near where your cat is currently scratching and they’ll almost certainly start using it and stop scratching your house to pieces.

But why do cats scratch the wall and furniture? Cats scratch for a variety of reasons; to stretch out their muscles, sharpen their claws, to mark their territory, and even just because they’re bored or they want to get your attention. As a recent study in the Animals journal puts it, this is a “self-motivated and natural behavior” for them, and one you want to encourage, but not at the cost of your lovely new sofa. We’ve got a full article on how to stop cats from scratching furniture, but the short answer is to give them an alternative target that is more enjoyable to scratch. Keeping them entertained with one of the best interactive cat toys is one option, but nothing beats a scratching post.

A scratching post will be better for your cat in the long run too, as they’re much more effective at keeping their nails in check than your soft fluffy carpet or comfy sofa will be. They’re typically made of tougher materials like jute and sisal, which are similar in toughness to a tree trunk that a cat would scratch in a natural environment. You can also consider the best cat trees if you have enough space for them in your home, as they offer climbing opportunities alongside a scratching surface.

But what should you look out for in the best cat scratching posts? Whether you’re going simple or extravagant, you want to choose a cat scratching post with a heavy, stable base so that it won’t move around or topple over while your cat is using it. Beyond that, there are lots of different types to choose from varying in size and complexity. There are space-saving models for cat owners in apartments, wall-mounted scratching posts, and even some with toys built-in to help keep your furry friends entertained.

The best cat scratching posts 2024

How to choose the best cat scratching post

There’s nothing more disheartening than investing in a cat scratching post only to see your fussy feline give a haughty flick of the tail and walk straight towards the side of your sofa. So what should you look out for to better the odds of your pet actually making use of it?

Material: Consider what the scratching post is made from. There’s a dizzying array of materials available but what might appeal to you might not appeal to your cat. Sisal fabric is a great option because it’s heavy-duty and shreds under your kitty’s claws in the same way the bark of a tree would. Try to avoid carpet-covered scratching posts, as you’re trying to encourage your cat to go for the scratching post and not your floors, so a different material is best.

Sturdiness: Select a scratching post that’s sturdy and doesn’t wobble or move about. The reason cats like sofas and trees are that they stay stable when scratched which allows them to safely sharpen their claws. Look for posts that have solid bases so they won’t topple over.

Size: Height and layout are important considerations too. Cats tend to favor vertical scratching posts because they allow them to stretch out, but if you’ve ever seen pulls in your carpet then you know they’re not averse to scratching horizontally from time to time either. Providing a tall and flat scratcher can be a great way of covering your bases.

Added features: A cat scratcher with features can be a great investment that keeps your kitty amused for hours. Think multi-level cat trees that offer platforms, fluffy or sisal hanging toys, hammocks, ramps, and poles. Let your cat’s personality guide you as to whether a maxed-out model is the way to go. 

How we selected the best cat scratching posts

When picking the best cat scratching posts, there were several key areas that we chose to focus on.

Quality of materials: Wherever possible, we selected models with sisal scratching posts. Known to offer an outstanding scratching surface for cats, sisal feels good under their claws and is highly durable. We also wanted to include a durable cardboard option with impressive functionality as once again, this provides a superior scratch when compared to other materials, such as carpet. 

Size: Cats tend to favor vertical scratchers that are at least 24 inches high as not only do they get the opportunity to sharpen their claws but a scratcher of this height provides them with a chance to have the kind of big stretch their muscles need. For this reason, we’ve largely focused on vertical scratchers that meet or exceed this requirement with a few shorter options to cater to smaller cats and kittens. 

Scratchable area: We favored models with the greatest amount of scratchable surface area to ensure your cat has plenty of room to sink their claws into. 

Stability: The last thing you want is a scratching post that can be tipped over easily and while that can happen even with the most stable posts if you have a large cat who’s a vigorous scratcher, we’ve chosen models that the majority of reviewers describe as being sturdy. 

Do cats scratch for attention?

Cats are complex beings, just like us, and they scratch for lots of different reasons. It can be to stretch their muscles, keep their claws sharp, spread their scent, and sometimes, yes, just for attention.

"If you encourage them to scratch by giving them fuss and praising them, they’ll continue to do it." explains Dr. Hannah Godfrey, "But did you know that it’s not just positive attention that can fuel this behavior? If you shout, scold them, or pick them up and move them away, you could still be inadvertently encouraging them."

The key to stopping furniture scratching is to give your kitty a better alternative, which means scratch posts, mats, or trees. From there, it's all about reinforcing the behaviors you want to see, explains Dr Godfrey:

"When they use these items to scratch, praise them and give them a fuss or a treat. If they claw at the furniture, carpet, or somewhere else you’re not so keen on, ignore the behavior. They'll soon make the association that it's better to scratch in those purpose-built places!"

What scratching posts do cats like best?

Different cats seem to like different types of posts but there are some generalities. “Research has shown that most cats prefer a scratching post made of rope/sisal,” explains Woodnutt. “It should be vertical, and tall enough that they can stretch out fully. It should also be stable – they aren’t going to use it if it wobbles when they try!”

But that’s not to say rope/sisal is perfect for all. “Cardboard is preferred by older cats, so it’s worth trying a couple of materials if your cat isn’t enjoying their scratching post,” Woodnutt advises.

One way of figuring what your cat may like is to consider where your pet is currently scratching. “If your cat is scratching furniture, look at what they’re scratching and where – is it a vertical surface or horizontal one? What material is it?,” Woodnutt continues. 

“You can try to replicate this when choosing a scratching post for your cat. Placing a scratching post near where your cat is already scratching will help them use it, too – you can always move it (slowly!) later once your cat reliably uses the post.”

What is the best height for a cat scratching post?

First of all look at your cat! “A scratching post needs to be tall enough that a cat can stretch out fully when using it,” Woodnutt advises. “For most cats, 90cm (36-inches) is plenty, but if your cat is a larger breed you’ll need a larger post. Since posts of this height can be unstable, look for one with a large base or an upper bracket to attach, or one that is part of a cat tree.”

Dr Joanna Woodnutt BVM BVS BVMedSci MRCVS
Dr Joanna Woodnutt

Dr Joanna Woodnutt qualified as a veterinarian from the University of Nottingham where she then went on to practice companion animal medicine in the Midlands. She really took to the consulting side of things and helping clients with medical problems such as dermatology, behaviour and nutrition - anything that involved helping clients understand their pets better.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.

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