Will my cat use a scratching post?

by Maggie Sharp
(Hobart, Tasmania, Australia)

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

I was looking at the scratching posts on a pet supply website, because I really want to get one for my little boy, Chilli. The one he has now is only very small and he's hardly used it.

There's a nice big one for sale that comes with 2 (well, 3 I guess) different levels, 3 scratching poles, a hammock, and a tunnel on the top level, for $75. I thought that was quite a good price considering how much they are else where...

But because he doesn't use the small one, is it likely that he won't use any new one I get him?


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Will my cat use a scratching post?

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Dec 19, 2010 I agree, they should ban declawing cats
by: Syeelah Stoessel (New York)

I will NEVER get my cat declawed. My grandmother had hers declawed, even though i tried to convince her not to and when the cat came back from surgery, he couldn't walk so he laid down most of the time.

He ate less than usual and he became aggressive, anyone who tried to pet him, he would bite them. My cat had the problem of tearing up the carpet, my mom was about to declaw her but i begged her not to. To make my cat stop, when she would stratch the couch, i would pick her up, tap her her bottom (not too hard) and in a firm voice i would say "DON'T DO THAT" then i would put her in my room and close the door.

I would put catnip on her scratcher and when she did scratch it, i would give her a treat. And believe me when i'm telling you this, she did stop scratching the furniture and the carpet.

May 05, 2010 Building your own
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Maggie. Besides saving money, building your own scratching post gives you an opportunity to make it according to your own wishes and specifications. I built one many years ago with no problems - and actually I'm not that much of a handyman. It's pictured fifth from the top at www.raarup.eu/killingerne-en
Just remember to use some sturdy metal angle fittings at the base. And if you want shelfs on the way up, mount the extra angles on the post before you cover it with the carpeting.
When you have completed the project, it will make an excellent subject for another article. 🙂

Finn Frode avatar

May 04, 2010 To Finn
by: Michael

Finn, thanks for the input - very welcome for me and all visitors. Thanks too, to all contributors. This is an important subject as it might save some claws. We know how passionate we are to save claws.

Michael Avatar

May 04, 2010 Claws in action
by: Maggie Sharp

I found 3 'claws in action' shots, though all of them are from when I hadn't yet started photography as a hobby, so they're not all that great. But I'll email them to the address on the article anyway. =)

I wish my camera lens hadn't broken, or I could have gotten some good shots...

May 04, 2010 Claws
by: Ruth

Beautiful claws !
Maggie if you do find some photos of 'claws in action' you could email that link on that other article,I'm sure they still want more.

May 04, 2010 Finn and Ruth
by: Maggie Sharp

Finn, I was considering a basic one like that, but those ones don't take long to loosen up and start to wobble. I tested Chilli out with our current one, he scratched it for a while but I think the wobbling of it put him off... So I'm thinking that maybe I should just make my own.. It wouldn't be too hard, just a wooden pole covered in carpet or rope would do...

Ruth, I'm not sure about the video clips, but I could possibly get a few photos. I have thousands of photos, so I'll have a look.
Here's one to start off, he was really happy and was stretching his claws to express it while cuddling up to a little pink mouse...

May 04, 2010 To Maggie
by: Ruth


Maggie,that's the link to the article about the making of the documentary,if you have any photos or clips of any cat using his claws.
Or if you know anyone else who has any.

May 04, 2010 Floor-to-ceiling or basic?
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Maggie. Considering the number of parts, I think AU$ 79 is a very fair price for the model you have in mind. Here in Denmark it would actually be a very good bargain, but comparing prices is a bit difficult, as I don't know the the general price level in Australia.

cat scratching post 1

Above: Milly with a basic scratching post


cat scratching post

ABOVE: Milly and Ivanhoe with the cat tree

Before investing my hard earned money I would however stop and think, would it be useful for the cat? The hammock looks cute, but can you really imagine an active young Aby resting in that? Wouldn't he prefer a better view of the room from way up?

I would get a floor-to-ceiling model like the Dagmar on http://855032.shop08.dandomain.dk/shop/standard-models-15c1.html The 'Cats No. 1' brand manufactures some very sturdy models, but I'm afraid they are not available outside Europe - and unfortunately quite expensive too...
More reasonably priced alternatives may be found - like this one at http://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/cats/scratching_posts/cattreesolymp/36490

And actually you can also build your own floor-to-ceiling cat tree - all it takes is a pole and a bit of sisal carpet...

However, if your primary goal is teaching Chilly to use a scratching post, I'd say for now buy Animal Tucker's basic model at just AU$ 19,95. It looks sturdy enough and will serve it's purpose just as well as any of the bigger ones.

Finn Frode avatar

May 03, 2010 To Finn
by: Maggie Sharp

Maybe you're right, I'm not really sure what the difference between a cat tree and a scratching post actually is.. Chilli is the first cat I've known in person to have a scratching post... All the other cats have been outdoors/indoors and simply used their claws on the trees...

From what I've heard from everyone here, it seems like a good idea to get it, but I'm considering saving up money and just buying the best one there... Take a look on the website and tell me what you think, the big one is second last, and the one I was considering getting in the first place is the last.

I wouldn't use catnip daily either, I don't want Chilli to end up with some sort of drug addiction! Hehehe. But I think I might get a little to try on him, and if he doesn't like it I won't get any more of it, but if he does I might use it as a treat or something.

May 03, 2010 To Ruth
by: Maggie Sharp

I started making a small mouse toy several months ago from some old material and cotton that I found, I suppose I could put some catnip in there and finish it up... He would like it, as it's only small and he loves small toys...

I used to make a lot of videos of Chilli a while ago, the last one was in celebration of his first birthday, I might have some videos of him using his claws, as he plays a lot in the videos... But unfortunately I didn't make them based on his claws alone... If I can find a working video camera I might be able to make a video of him scratching something?

May 03, 2010 Markings
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Michael. I think you're right - they are not gonna scratch just anywhere, it's the prominent position that's the best.
It's the same with rubbing chins by the way. When I take Snow White for her walks, she'll rub her chin against every railing that is just outside our own entrance, but when we are further away she does not have the same need to mark her territory.
I've only been walking her for three days, but she already thinks of it as HER entrance. Yesterday she even chased another cat away by hissing. 😉

Finn Frode avatar

May 03, 2010 Cat tree or scratching post?
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Maggie. I can't add much to what has been said, but the scratching post you've seen, sounds more like a tree or a tower than like a basic post?
We have a scratching tree that goes all the way to the ceiling so that it doesn't wobble. But for the cats it's primary function is not for scratching, but as resting and lookout point. I'm sure your Chilly would like that too, but really it's quite a furniture - and a smaller device will do just as well.
Our cats favourite scratching post is a simple pole with sisal rope on a large, square base. It's no more than 60 cm (24 inches) tall, but that's enough even for the big Snow White. The important thing is that it won't turn over and so far it hasn't.
Ours is called 'More 4 cats', but I'm not sure it's available outside Continental Europe. The ones mentioned by Merrily (Purr-Fect Post) and Ruth (Fat Boy) are of the same basic type and seems to be very good as well.
We also has a couple of smaller posts with platforms on top of them, but that only makes them wobblier - and they are still to low for that cats to find sitting there worthwhile. But if you check the pictures in the article 'More cat scratching advice' you'll see how even a low post can serve it's purpose with a big cat.

One thing that always work for me is that as soon as I scratch the post with my nails, the cats instantly get an urge to to the same. It's kinda like yawning in somebody's company. 😉

Then about the catnip: Acording to Wikipedia catnip (or catswort or catmint) is a plant by the latin name Nepeta cataria. There's another one called valerian (Valeriana officinalis) which has the same effect. Both are so-called 'cat attractants' and are believed to mimic the feline facial pheromone.
To us humans valerian smells like old socks, but many cats are crazy about it. Our Milly loves it, but she tends to get a little overexited, so we use it with caution. Snow White notices the smell but isn't particularly interested.
From what I know it has no harmful effects, but if the cat seems to get totally drunk by it, it's maybe not be a good idea to use it on a daily basis. But a few drops on a new scratching post won't do any harm.

Finn Frode avatar

May 03, 2010 Prominent position
by: Michael

Part of the reason why cats scratch is as a visual marker of their territory. In the wild cats scratch prominent trees etc. so that their presence is visible to other cats.

For that reason it is said that a cat scratching post should be in a prominent position. It is the reason why cats scratch the arm rests of sofas and chairs.

Just adding my two pennies worth!

Michael Avatar

May 03, 2010 Catnip
by: Ruth

No it's not bad for cats,I've never known it hurt any at all.It just makes them happy and relaxed and a bit silly.It's good for times when cats may be a bit anxious, like Feliway is supposed to be,although that did nothing at all for our Walter when he had anxiety problems after being bereaved.
You can make your own kickable sized toys out of old soft towel,just cut a rat or fish shape out and stuff the rest of the towel and some dried catnip in, sew securely round it,cats love them.Our boyz have home made toys too.
We've been trying to get a video of them using their claws playing with their toys,
for that documentary wanting clips of cats enjoying their claws.But typical cats, they won't do anything as soon as the camera comes out lol

May 03, 2010 Thanks, Ruth.
by: Maggie Sharp

Thanks, Ruth. So, it's not bad for cats or anything? I wouldn't mind growing some and giving it to Chilli and Mae when they go for walks...

The catnip rat is a good idea, and little Chilli LOVES his toys, so that would be ideal for him... I'll keep that in mind...

Though, keeping in mind that, as you said, not all cats like it, so perhaps he might not... I'm not sure if he was exposed to it or not before coming here...

May 03, 2010 Catnip
by: Ruth

We have a tub of fresh catnip growing on our patio right now and both our boyz have a nibble at the leaves sometimes as do visiting cats.
We grew a pot too for the rescue cats next door and put it in their run,but they all totally ignore it !
We also have a packet of dried catnip which now and again we throw a pinch down and our boyz roll around in it.
But their favourite at present is some catnip rats which we had the idea to have made for them.They love their catnip mice but they aren't big enough to get a real good kick at,so the lady who makes them for us made the rats. She buys best quality catnip and sells lots of mice at Craft Fayres so now she's making rats too for the next one, lol, I think she will sell a lot.
The cats we've had over the years haven't all liked catnip, some cats don't, but we've never had one O/D on it,they seem to have the sense to know how much would be too much.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

May 02, 2010 Merrily, Ruth and Michael
by: Maggie Sharp

Firstly, thank you all very much for your help. The current scratching post is, as mentioned before, too small but people seemed to think that it was okay to use it as a foot rest, so despite the numerous times I've tightened the post to the bottom level, it still wobbles.

I think I might consider getting it for him... Not sure where I'd put it though...

On a different note, has anyone here actually given their cat catnip? I was considering giving it to Chilli but I'm not quite sure about it...

About my photography, Michael, I'm afraid there won't be too many more on the way as my lens decided that it didn't want to retract anymore, so I sent it to be fixed and it seems waranty can't fix it... No surprises there... So a new lens is on my 'things to save up for' list too...

May 01, 2010 Scratching posts
by: Merrily

Maggie, when My cat Faith came into my home she liked to claw everything, and no matter how I tried to change her mind, she continued to damage everything in sight.
I bought a Purr-Fect Post, which is the nicest post I have ever seen. It is big, solid, and beautiful.
Faith looked at it and walked over to the bed and started scratching, I guess she wasn't impressed.
When I would see her near it, I would scratch on it, and she would get excited and join in, however she would never use it on her own.
One day out of the blue, she just started using it, and now she doesn't scratch anywhere else.
It probably took her a month to use it, and even now I scratch on it as I pass by, the cats love the sound of fingernails on sisal.
As Ruth said make sure you post is tall, and solid, they don't like them if they wobble.

May 01, 2010 Yes I think he will
by: Ruth

Hi Maggie, a lot of cats won't use small scratching posts because they are a bit wobbly and may topple over. I'd recommend a really solid one like we have for your main one,it's called a 'Fat Boy' Our cats love it.
Some cats need persuading to use scratching posts, you probably know this already but I'll write it incase others read it who don't...you need to show a reluctant cat how to use a post by dragging your own nails down while he watches. Then gently lift up his front legs until his claws dig in and he starts scratching.Praise him and give him a treat.After that if he goes to scratch elsewhere, gently carry him to his post and don't forget to praise him when he uses it.
A sprinkle of catnip around the post might encourage him. Any cat can be taught to use a scratching post with time and patience.
As well as the main one it's good to have other posts and flat pads around the house too.The one you've seen sounds good and worth investing in,I'm sure Chilli would love it.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

May 01, 2010 Hi
by: Michael

Hi Maggie. First, I must say that you take a damn good photograph.

The question that you ask is one that I have asked myself countless times so I am glad you asked it.

I have never quite got to grips with scratching posts having failed to get my lady cat to use one. It is probably my fault but she tends to not use anything that I buy her. Is she trying to tell me something?

The experts say put the post next to the area where the cat scratches or put some catnip on it - that kind of thing, to encourage the cat but it is not a science and I am unsure if we can guarantee that a cat will use a scratching post.

Someone else will no doubt be wiser and more optimistic. Finn Frode comes to mind. Finn, please make a comment!

Michael Avatar

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