Choosing the Right Scratching Post
The cat owner tries to do the right thing by purchasing a scratching post at the local pet supply store. The post is usually covered in a colorful carpet material and may even have a cute little toy dangling from the top. Home the owner goes with the best of intentions to provide for kitty’s needs. The post gets placed in the corner of the living room. The cat, ever curious when it comes to anything new in the home, goes over to check it out. Sniffing the post, the cat even gives the dangling toy a little swat with his paw. The owner smiles. Satisfied that this new addition to the home is harmless, the cat turns his back to it and trots over to the sofa where he proceeds to sink his nails in and scratch. The owner frowns.
Is the cat being stubborn and destructive?
Not at all. He just knows that the post won’t satisfy him when it comes to his natural, normal, and healthy need to scratch. So what’s wrong with the average post? Let’s start with the cover material. Most posts are covered with carpet that’s too soft and plush. A cat needs a rough textured material that he can sink his nails into to help discard the dead sheaths. If you have a cat who is scratching on furniture instead of the post, compare the two textures. Run your hand along the post and then along the furniture. The furniture wins. Moving on down the list, the next problem with the average post is that it’s usually not sturdy enough.
Many have a small base so when a cat leans his weight on it while scratching, it topples over. Some poorly constructed posts aren’t connected to the base securely so they wobble. Because furniture is sturdy the cat has another incentive to use your sofa. He knows that it won’t wobble. Most posts are also too short. The act of scratching is also a way for a cat to get a full back stretch. Look at how your cat’s body elongates when he engages in a full stretch. Stretching out feels so wonderful that he’s going to return to the place he knows will provide that—your furniture.
When you go out shopping, keep three rules in mind. A scratching post must be: 1. Covered in the right material 2. Sturdy and well constructed 3. Tall enough for a full stretch
For most cats, you can’t go wrong if the cover material is sisal. It’s rough texture is very appealing. As you run your hand along the post, the rougher it feels, the better. Think of a nail file. You wouldn’t want to use a dull, smooth file, right? Neither does your cat. Some carpet-covered posts are acceptable if the material is rough enough and the loops of the carpet don’t catch the cat’s claws. If you’re unable to find a sisal-covered post, you can order one online. There are several companies that make tall, sturdy, good quality, sisal-covered posts.
Making Your Own Scratching Post
You’ll need a 4” × 4” piece of wood (actually, it really measures 3½” × 3½” but it’s called 4 × 4 for some odd reason. Perhaps it’s a carpenter’s joke on the rest of us). It should be 30” in length. For the base, a 16” × 16” square ¾” piece of plywood will work. Select cedar, redwood, fir, or pine for the post. Oak, which is a hardwood, will be more difficult to drill. At the store, you’ll probably find both treated and untreated wood.
Don’t choose the treated kind because it has an obvious odor that neither you nor your cat will like. If your local lumber company or home improvement store only has treated 4” × 4” posts, then get a regular untreated 2” × 4” × 8”.
Cut two 30” pieces and screw them together to form a 4” × 4” × 30” long post. If you plan on leaving the base uncovered be sure to sand it well so you won’t get splinters should you stub your toe on it while on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. To fasten the post to the base, you’ll need five #8 2½” drywall screws.
Mark on top of the base where the post will sit. Draw two diagonal lines from the opposing corners. At the center of the “x” place your post and mark a square. Drill one hole in the center and one hole on each diagonal line, one inch from the center. Coat the screws with bar soap or wax from an old candle so they’ll go in more easily. Turn the base upside down and run the center screw through the bottom of the base into the positioned post. Double-check the location of the post with the marks you made on the top of the base before running the rest of the screws.
When you’ve finished, if you still think the post isn’t sturdy enough, attach a small metal angle iron on each side of the post bottom where it meets the base.
There’s one common mistake that many owners make about cover material: they hunt down that carpeting they had left over. As with what is on most storebought posts, that carpeting is usually too plush and soft. Even if your cat, for some reason, decided that the fluffy soft carpet was an acceptable cover material for the post, it will send a mixed message to him. He won’t understand why scratching the carpeted post is acceptable but scratching the carpet that covers the floor isn’t. I’ve found the easiest covering for a post is rope.
When you purchase it, get more than you think you’re going to need because it’ll be wound very tightly around the post. You can also use rope to cover a carpeted post that your cat has been ignoring. Secure it at the top and bottom with heavy-duty carpet staples or carpet tacks. To protect your hands, wear work gloves when winding the rope. Some cats prefer to scratch on plain old wood. You may have noticed this if your cat scratches on the logs stacked by the fireplace. If that’s the case, the easiest thing to do is make an upright log post. Nature has already supplied the ideal cover material for you in that case. If your cat scratches on bare wood, you can strip the bark off the log or use a plain 4” × 4” piece of wood.
SUPPLIES NEEDED FOR MAKING A POST
- 4” × 4” × 30” piece of wood
- 16” × 16” square of ¾” thick plywood
- cover material for post
- cover material for base (optional)
- sandpaper (to smooth base)
- five #8 × 2½” dry wall screws (more if using a 2” × 4”)
- four small metal angle irons (optional)
- carpet staples or carpet tacks
- bar soap or wax
- safety glasses
- catnip (to rub on finished post)
Cats can have such individual and unique preferences for scratching, so use creativity to come up with the ideal post. Don’t give up!
Where to Put the Scratching Post
Don’t make the mistake of trying to hide the scratching post. It may not be the greatest-looking addition to your décor, but your cat needs to know that it’s there. The post, conveniently located, can be a visual reminder to scratch in the right place. Many cats enjoy scratching and stretching after a nap or after they’ve eaten. Because scratching is also an emotional outlet, many cats will want to use the post when their owner comes home or as they anxiously wait for dinner.
If the post is for a kitten, keep it right in the middle of his room or area so he can’t miss it. If your kitten has access to the entire house, invest in more than one post. You can’t expect him to keep a lid on his desire to scratch while he searches from room to room for his post. Make it easy for the youngster.
In a multicat home, provide scratching posts in the areas each cat spends the most time. Some cats may not feel comfortable sharing one post.
Read more : Training Your Cat to Use the Scratching Post