A scratching post is probably the most fundamental piece of furniture that is needed when you get a cat. After you get their food, litter box and litter, you need to get a scratching post or a cat tree. A scratching post offers your cat a designated place where they can stretch and flex their claws. Little bits of nail or sheath will come off their claw nail as it grows, so cats need to scratch to keep their nails healthy. It can also be a natural way for them to keep their claw tips in good shape, while they flex their tendons and muscles in the toes of their paws.
The 16″ high cat posts work, but are a bit small for larger adult cats, so I recommend starting with at least a 2 foot high scratching post. My own cats have been wearing out several portions of the carpet on the post, depending on their size. The larger cat is wearing out the section at the 18-19″ position. A 2 foot post gives them a full stretch. The post needs to be secured to a wide base. The hanging scratch pad I bought years ago has hardly ever been touched and certainly did not serve its intended purpose.
Cats seem to enjoy scratching on various surfaces from carpet pile to backs of carpet to wood, to cardboard, to wicker and even thick sisal rope that has been wound tightly around a post. These are all textures that cats enjoy but your own cat will have its preferences. Nevertheless, it’s fairly easy to train them to use a scratching post. I have my 4 cats that are trained to use the scratching post and one of them also likes to scratch on some upright pine sides that form a draping stand. It was a home made piece of play furniture, that I don’t mind my cat using at this point in time, since she likes it.
Early training is important so that your cat does not take to one of your fine pieces of furniture. You can help your kitty take to its scratching post by putting some cat nip on the post and also by scratching on it when your cat comes near it. Help them to understand what it is for. In your training, it is better to praise your cat when she is scratching on the post or tree. If she tries to scratch in another spot just lift her up gently and then scratch on the tree or post to show her where you want her to do her scratching. Place your scratching post close to any location where your cat tends to want to do her scratching and redirect them when necessary. If your cat continues to scratch on the side of the chair or couch (typically), then you may need to put some plastic or foil on their selected spot for awhile, and just keep redirecting them. Also, sometimes it is very helpful to have a few scratching posts in different locations of the house.
You can buy a simple inexpensive post with a stable base or an elaborate large cat tree with platforms. If you have a kitten that likes to climb curtains, then a full large sized cat tree will be greatly appreciated and well used by him/her. We have enjoyed many moments of seeing our young cat flinging himself onto his cat tree and sprinting up it at full speed.
Some people will make their own scratching posts or cat trees from left over remnants of rug. They are very easy to make and can be made to blend in with your interior decorations or fit a space that you have.