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Scratching Alternatives

Congratulations, you’ve decided to allow your cat to keep its claws. Now you want to know how to save your furniture.

First, you MUST have something the cat is allowed to scratch. It is a natural behavior you can’t stop. The idea is to provide them with something more enticing then your favorite sofa. It should be in the house as soon as the cat arrives. We recommend placing a scratching post or pad in every room the cat spends time in. To help kitty get the idea it is a good surface to scratch you can have them chase a flashlight or laser beam around and stop the beam on the scratching surface. They will paw at the beam and feel the surface.

Don’t forget to trim their claws about once a month. Click HERE for ‘how -to’

What do I buy? There are three types of alternatives we recommend:

1. Corrugated cardboard. Most of these come with catnip to entice the cat. They come in flat, slanted and vertical products. Remember, scratching puts a lot of force on the pad. A small pad will just move around and can frustrate the cat and it won’t use it. Look for wide pads or ones in wood frames. The folks at Catclaws have some great ones. Another almost universal favorite is a product called Turbo Scratcher (picture below), available at Wal-Mart, PETsMART and many other pet stores.

2. Woven Sisal. This is a great material and more enticing then sisal rope. TopCat has a great post. Woven sisal is also available in mats at PETsMART and other stores.

3. Sisal rope. This is the most common form of sisal covering for posts.

4. Wood. some cats like wood. Some cat trees have wood posts and some wood scratching posts are available.

Tips on selecting products

Posts: Cats like to stretch when the scratch. An adult needs a post at least 24″ high. Don’t waste your money on the short one, even for a kitten. In no time at all it will be too short.
Pads: They should be big enough for the cat to stand on it while scratching. If it is too small it will move around and they will get frustrated and stop using it.
Carpeted products: We DON’T RECOMMEND THEM. The idea is to provide a surface more enticing then things you want to preserve in your home. A carpeted scratching post tells the cat ‘carpet is good’ and they may not differentiate between the post and your wall to wall carpet. Carpeted cat trees often have areas with sisal rope for scratching and carpet for sleeping on.

Placement: You should have something in every room kitty spends time in. Many cats like it close to the entrance to the room.

Below are pictures of the types of products we use in our own homes:


[notice]Discouraging kitty from scratching unapproved objects:
If kitty starts to scratch where they shouldn’t you can squirt them with water or compressed air (not in the eyes) or rattle a can with coins or marbles inside. You can also cover the area with double sided tape or a product called Sticky Paws. It is available at most pet stores and is designed to easily release from furniture.[/notice]

Why do they scratch?
Marking their territory

Scratching is a territorial instinct by which cats place their mark and establish their turf. Through scratching, cats mark their domains with more than just visible signs of claw marks. Cat’s paws also have scent glands that leave their own special scent on their territory.

And this is why they mark the most visible portions of your house. It’s Kitty’s way of adding her own personal touch to your (and her) home. Her version of interior decorating.


Scratching also serves to keep your cat in shape. The act of scratching stretches and pulls and works the muscles of a cat’s front quarters–a cross between a feline gym workout and Kitty Yoga. If you had declawed her she would miss out on this.

Sheer pleasure

Hey! It feels good to scratch.

So give up the idea of reforming Kitty’s desire to scratch. Re-channel her into scratching where you want her to. You’ll both be happier.