Cats love to scratch. But did you know that they actually need to scratch? It's a cat's equivalent of a nail clipper. As their claws grow, they need to scratch not so much to sharpen them, as to remove the outer, dead layer of the claw. Imagine how you'd feel if you couldn't cut your nails for six months, and you'll understand how frustrated your cat feels when you won't let him scratch.
In nature, of course, there are plenty of trees with lovely rough bark for a cat to claw at. In your apartment, there are door frames, sofas, and curtains, which also look appealing to a cat, but which you'd probably rather keep safe from feline claws. Providing a good scratching post can help your cat keep his nails trim while preventing him from ripping up your upholstery.
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We looked at a wide variety of kitty scratchers, from simple cardboard wedges to beautifully designed large wooden towers, trees and sisal pieces. Cardboard has the advantage of being recyclable once your kittens have finally trashed it, and some of the scratchers are made out of recycled materials, too. The best cat scratchers are large enough for a kitten to stretch out fully, and have material that doesn't trap a cat's claws and doesn't fall out all over the floor. Many of the higher priced scratchers also double as cat perches, and some have cat toys included to make them into multi-use cat furniture.
There's a lot of choice out there. There are some great products, and there are also some rather poor ones. Design is often an issue, and some of the lower range cardboard products are overpriced and shed far too much cardboard over your floor. We had to evaluate quite a few products to find the right ones.
But succeed we did, as we’re about to showcase the five best cat scratching posts you can buy:
Pet Fusion's Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge is a huge figure-of-eight loop of recycled cardboard, with matte black sides, that provides both a scratching pad and a place for cats to sleep. It uses recycled cardboard which is tougher than many competitors' products, and should last a year of active use, since it doesn't shred as easily as other cardboard scratchers.
There's a huge scratching area, and your kitty can choose between a lot of different scratching positions, too. The open design gives two 'tunnels' to intrigue your cats, and the curved top is a favourite lounging place for many fur babies. At 34 inches long, this is a big scratcher, and it's also reversible - in fact even if kitties tip it over on its side, they can still use it. The hole in the middle also lets you attach it to a table leg with rope if you want to stop it moving about.
This is definitely the best for big and heavy cats, and at around $50 is not expensive for what you get. It also comes with a packet of catnip to get your kitties interested.
This good looking and sturdy scratching post is another designer option. The SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post is a square scratching post on a square wood base, made with sisal on all four sides. The post is wide, and 32" high, so even large cats like Rag Dolls can stretch their full length while having a scratch - good cat yoga! It's sturdy, and won't tip over even when used by the big guys, and some users have found it will last up to three years before the sisal gets scratched up.
The design is classic, and will go with any kind of décor while looking elegant and in place, though the top and bottom panels could be in a nicer colour than the rather off-putting brown.
The Ultimate Scratching Post costs $40-50 - not the absolute cheapest scratching post you can get, but still relatively inexpensive. The vendor also appears responsive to customer problems. It's fair to note that a few felines don't get on with it, and the sisal post is quite hard and could catch a cat's claws in it, so this is not a good buy if your kitty has sensitive paws.
The Go Pet Club Cat Tree is a shining example of how to make feline furniture properly. Go Pet Club have produced a multi purpose quality cat tree for large cats that provides the perfect opportunity for your kitty to engage in all of the activities that are so important for growth and healthy development.
Available in a variety of great colors, this multilevel cat tree features several well constructed platforms, each with their own unique feature set which are sure to keep your cat entertained.
Furthermore, this large cat tree features a variety of different materials including a luxurious fur lined hide hole and several places for your kitty to exercise their claws.
Go Pet Club's Cat Tree offers exceptional value for money and is just the right size for most homes at 5 feet tall. It might not be the most fancy cat condo on the market but it makes for a fantastic choice for many feline owners.
The problem with many commonly available cat scratching posts is that they're, frankly, years behind in interior design concepts. They may look great to your feline, but will they fit with your Alvar Aalto furniture or your collection of Andy Warhol prints? Lurid turquoise and purple is not everyone's idea of a great colour scheme!
Frontpet's futuristic design comes to your rescue. It's a sophisticated looking design with clean lines and elegant balance, providing multiple perches and scratching areas. Unlike most scratching pads, this one will keep going for ever - it uses household grade carpet squares which are attached with Velcro and can be removed for cleaning, or replaced. The big platforms let cats stretch out to their full length, and the tree is robust enough for cats that like to play rough. It includes two water bowls at the bottom as well.
The 'tree' comes in raw, unfinished wood, so you can oil it or paint it to suit your décor. Although it might not look like an easy-build product, it's actually quite easy to put together, though it does need two people - one to hold pieces while the other fastens them.
Customer reviews are almost all positive - cats love to sleep on the shelves as well as scratch. Just a few users have found it can be a little wobbly, because of its height; putting it in a corner helps support this scratching post. And this is an expensive option, at well over $200. Worth it, perhaps, if you want to protect your collection of Eames lounge chairs.
The Pawaboo Cat Scratcher Lounge is a piece of furniture that doubles as a 'cat house' - an open-sided box with scratching fabric inside as well as outside. It can be used horizontally or vertically, and it's great for multiple cat families as one kitty can scratch inside while the other has a good claw at the outside of the box. It's a neat design with two little portholes, one each side, and rounded corners, and it could fit under a desk or table. It actually looks a little bit 1960s retro, which is fun.
It's made out of corrugated cardboard, but the cardboard is quite thick and durable. (That also means postage is a lot cheaper than with a solid scratcher.) It will slide about a bit when the cats are having fun, though. And the 'flame' accent on the side is a bit tasteless, at least according to one customer's cats who decided to rip it off and chew it up.
The package also includes catnip, which is a nice touch. At under $50 this isn't a snip, but it's a good scratcher that's versatile and fun for your cats.
GoPet's scratcher is our budget option at around $20. It's a recycled cardboard wedge, with two available scratching sides, so it can be turned over to spread the damage. The design includes two holes to stimulate your cat's curiosity and encourage it to play as well as scratch.
Because it's wedge-shaped, the scratching surface is slanted, giving your kitty a more natural and easier stretch than with flat scratchers. Cardboard also has the advantage that unlike sisal, it can't catch your cat's claws. The package includes catnip as well as a bell ball that can be put in the little recesses in the body to turn it into a cat toy, making it a really versatile little object.
The drawback is that the bits of cardboard get ripped off, so this isn't a great buy for people who like their houses clean and tidy at all times. The cardboard this scratching pad is made of doesn't seem to be as robust as with the higher priced products, so it gets ripped up more easily - this scratch pad will last a good few months, but it won't last years. It's light, and tends to move around a bit when your kitty is using it (it could be worth fixing it to a surface with double sided tape), and it's a bit small for larger cats - though kittens will go mad over it.
Buying the right cat furniture will provide your feline friend with the perfect environment to play, exercise and relax. There are several different types of furniture available so we are going to provide you with an overview to help you in your purchase.
The cat tree is a firm favorite with both cats and owners alike. These innovate pieces of furniture allow your kitty to engage in a variety of activities including stretching, scratching and the ability to practice climbing within the safe environment of your home.
The best cat climbing trees are sturdy and well built so be sure to buy one of a high enough quality so that it will stand up to everyday use.
Cats trees come in a variety of sizes, allowing you to tailor the specifications of the one that you buy to the needs of your kitty. The bigger your cat, the sturdier the tree will need to be.
Make sure to buy one that is sufficiently weighted so that it will accommodate the weight of your cat whilst they are jumping and running from platform to platform.
A cat condo or tree house is designed to provide your feline with a comfortable and accessible place for them to hang out and sleep. You will find that condos offer a variety of perches, each of which feature a little cat-sized room for them to explore.
Any large cat such as a maine coon or rag doll needs plenty of space to feel comfortable. If your kitty is on the larger side, we suggest buying a condo that is taller in height to accommodate their needs. Going up in size will also provide you with a cat perch that is suitable for big cats.
You will often find that you can buy the same condo in a variety of different sizes which allows you to tailor the purchase to the requirements of your extra large cats.
A cat climbing tower can take many forms and there is usually a little crossover between their tree and condo counterparts. Cat towers can also look a lot like a regular scratching post so don't get too hung up on the name.
As with any other type of cat furniture, be sure to look for a sufficiently weighted product to prevent them from falling over when in use. Your kitty won't appreciate their new home wobbling under the feet which can put them off from using it altogether.
These products are usually constructed from pressed wood or MDF, making for a relatively lightweight but durable piece of furniture. What is more important is the types of covering that each product is finished in. Anything lacking in durability will be destroyed by a cat's claws in days if not weeks.
Sisal rope is one of the most popular types of covering as it makes for the perfect scratching material and is guaranteed not to fall apart after only a few weeks of use.
Any surface not covered in sisal will usually be covered in faux fur or another type of synthetic material. Whilst not as durable as sisal rope, most of these materials are still very durable and perfect for even the most active cat.
Some high-end products are constructed from solid or real wood which provides an additional level of quality. You will find that many modern cat trees use solid woods such as oak, providing for furniture that would be good enough for human use.
Scratching is an important aspect of any cat's life. The benefits are well documented, and simply put, provide your feline with the foundation for a long and happy life.
The great thing about furniture for cats is that all of it is designed to be used as a scratching device, whether a tree, tower or a condo. This means that not only does your kitty have a place to sharpen their claws, they can also mark this territory as their own until their heart's content.
And due to the size of these large pieces of furniture, your feline can spend as much time as they desire in this safe environment, providing them with the stimulation and exercise they require as well as a familiar place to rest.
And the winner is .... the Pet Fusion Ultimate Scratcher Lounge. We loved all the others, but this one is brilliant. The design would fit anywhere, while the different scratching areas and curvy cat lounging make it a really flexible product that your cats can use in many different ways.
Price-wise, it's around average for a scratcing post but seems nicer than many, and the cardboard is heavy duty, tending to get chewed up less than some of the cheaper cardboard scratchers. Plus, it's made from recycled cardboard, so you're doing your bit for sustainability and the environment when you buy it.
If you're in the market for a cat condo, we wholeheartedly recommend taking a look at Go Pet Club's Cat Tree for a cost-effective place for your kitten to hang out. It really is the best cat tree for large cats.
Whichever cat scratcher you decide to buy, whether a traditional cat tower, tree or otherwise, your feline friend may ignore it at first. It's very easy to attract a recalcitrant kitty, though - try catnip, sprinkled or sprayed on to the scratcher, or use a feather teaser to get your kitty in the right mood to use the scratcher.