Scratching Alternatives

Cats love to scratch!

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 than your favorite chair.  We recommend placing a scratching post or pad in every room in which the cat spends time.  They should be in the house as soon as the cat arrives.  To help kitty get the idea it is a good surface to scratch, you can have him chase a flashlight or laser beam around and stop the beam on the scratching surface.  He will paw at the beam and feel the surface.  Sprinkling catnip on the surface also helps.
  • Don’t forget to trim their claws about once a month!


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.  One universal favorite is a product called Turbo Scratcher, available at Wal-Mart, Meijers, PetSmart and many other pet stores.
  2. Woven Sisal.  This is a great material and more enticing then sisal rope.  Woven sisal is also available in mats at PetSmart, Wal-Mart, Meijer, and many other pet stores.
  3. Sisal Rope.  This is the most common form of sisal covering for posts.

Tips on selecting products.

  • Posts:  Cats like to stretch when they 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 while scratching.  If it is too small it will move around and he 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.

If kitty starts to scratch where he shouldn’t, you can squirt him with water or compressed air (not in the eyes), or rattle a can containing coins or marbles.  You can also cover the area with double-sided tape.

Why do they scratch?

  1. 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.  Cats’ paws also have scent glands that leave their own special scent on their territory.
  2. Exercise:  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.
  3. Remove old parts of the claws so the newer and sharper ones can grow in.
  4. Sheer pleasure:  Hey!  It feels good to scratch!

We do not recommend the soft paws, the glued on nail covers.  We have seen many cats with these on, where the owners cannot get the nail covers back off.  Many of these nail pads have become infected.

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