5 Best Tall Scratching Posts for Large Cats in 2023
Large cats need large scratching posts: it’s just a fact of cat parenthood. Without the benefits of full body stretching, scent marking, and shedding old claw sheaths, indoor cats can’t live their best lives. In this article, we'll explore what qualifies as a tall scratching post, what to look for when choosing one, and give you our picks for the best tall scratching posts for your magnificent large cat.
Here at tuft + paw, we are cat experts. We're intimately familiar with the scratching post features that are most important to cats and cat parents alike. This list is based on consultation with a veterinarian, cat behaviorist, hundreds of online reviews, and our own experience as cat parents to determine which cat trees offer the best overall performance.
For this article, we consider a tall scratching post to be 32 inches in height or more. This provides ample stretching space for most cats, allowing them to fully extend their body and flex those claws comfortably. Some tall scratching posts even drift into cat tree territory with extra features like perches or beds.
Smaller scratching posts can still provide an outlet for your cat’s natural scratching behaviors, but they won’t allow for full body stretches like taller posts do. That’s why we recommend having at least one tall scratching post for your cat, as well as smaller scratching surfaces. Your furniture will thank you!
What to Look for in a Tall Scratching Post
When shopping for a tall scratching post, consider these key factors to ensure your cat's satisfaction:
Durable Scratching Materials
There are several different scratching materials you will commonly encounter when shopping for scratching posts. Each has its own pros and cons.
Sisal rope is one of the most popular materials for scratching posts. Sisal is a natural fiber that’s satisfying for cats to scratch and tough enough to withstand months or years of abuse. Not every cat may like the bumpy and rough texture of sisal rope, but most do. If they don’t take to it, you may want to try smoother scratching surfaces, like sisal fabric.
Sisal fabric is made of the same plant fiber as sisal rope, but is woven into a smoother textile. It’s a universally attractive material for cats to scratch, but it offers similar durability to sisal rope and can withstand vigorous scratching. It’s less prone to snag claws because of its smoother texture.
Some scratching posts feature carpeted surfaces. While carpet can be appealing, it may not be as durable as sisal and can fray over time. Furthermore, not all carpets are created equal and it’s very hard to assess its durability from appearances. Some carpets are very poor quality and will wear out very quickly, while others are super sturdy. Read reviews for carpeted scratching posts before purchasing to get an idea of the quality. Carpets’ loopy texture can snag claws as well, which can be unpleasant for some cats.
Cardboard is the most affordable scratching material and can be very attractive to cats, but it’s by far the least durable option. It tends to shred very quickly and can shed little pieces of paper all over the place. If budget is your main concern, cardboard is great, but otherwise we recommend avoiding it.
The structural material matters as much as the scratching surface. The highest quality scratching posts will be made from plywood—a much sturdier material than particle board or cardboard. Plywood can handle the weight and strength of large cats without wobbling and isn’t vulnerable to moisture. Particleboard is a cheaper option, but it’s more prone to crumbling over time, especially when exposed to moisture. Some lower end brands use cardboard tubes for the main post, which makes them affordable but not very high quality.
A tall scratching post must be stable. Cats won't use a wobbly post, and it can even be dangerous for them. Look for a post with a wide and heavy base to ensure it stays firmly in place during enthusiastic scratching sessions. Wall-mounted scratching posts also offer great stability, but they tend to be shorter than their freestanding counterparts.
The height of a scratching post post is a crucial factor for large cats. As mentioned earlier, aim for at least 32 inches in height, but taller options are even better for large cats. They love to reach up high and stretch their muscles. A tall, stable scratching post can even double as a climbing pole during playtime.
While functionality is essential, there's no harm in choosing a scratching post that complements your home decor. Many tall scratching posts come in stylish designs, so you can find one that both you and your cat will love.
Our Criteria for Choosing the Best Tall Scratching Posts for Large Cats
Size— this includes height and length of scratching surfaces to allow stretching.
Durable scratching materials — We prefer sisal rope, sisal fabric, or high quality carpet over cardboard.
Durable structural materials — We prefer scratching posts made from solid wood and plywood to those made from particleboard or cardboard.
Stability – base width, weight, and how wobbly it is based on reviews.
Other features — toys, wall-mount, etc.
Ease of cleaning — look for easily vacuumed/wiped materials like wood and sisal fabric. Faux fur is generally harder to keep clean.
Stylish design — Cats don't care much about aesthetics, but it sure is nice for cat parents! We love a scratching post that does its job well and is easy on the eyes.
Deep Dive: The 5 Best Tall Scratching Posts for Large Cats
Price: $249 Rating: 4.5/5 with 51 tuft + paw reviews Size: 36"H x 18"W x 18"D Materials: premium plywood with ash or walnut veneer, woven sisal fabric
Disclaimer: Yes, we included our own scratching post here. This is because we truly think it performs excellently compared to other scratching posts on the market. We subjected it to the same scrutiny as every other product on this list and asked for honest opinions from experts and cat parents.
The tuft + paw Zip Scratching Post is our pick for the best tall scratching post for large cats. At 36 inches tall it gives cats of every size plenty of real estate for stretching. The body is made from premium plywood and wrapped in durable sisal fabric, which provides a satisfying scratch and excellent durability. Crucially, the ends of the fabric are hidden and secured inside the post, so you don’t have to worry about loose ends fraying or exposed staples. During energetic scratch sessions, the wide base provides stability and prevents wobbling. Reviews frequently mention the impressive sturdiness of the Zip. One reviewer wrote "the kitty cat loves the scratching post! He took to it right away. It’s very sturdy and he’s a big guy." Finally, cat parents rave about the stylish design of the Zip, which balances height with a sleek silhouette that can fit in with any home decor. The real wood veneer and gray sisal (rather than beige) add a touch of panache to the otherwise minimal design.
The main drawback of the Zip is its price, which we understand is not within every cat parent’s budget. As with any piece of nice furniture, its sturdier construction and higher quality materials are reflected in the price.
Price: $50 Rating: 4.7/5 with 28,300 Amazon reviews Size: 32"H x 16"W x 16"D Materials: sisal fabric, engineered wood
The SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post is a well-known product among cat parents, and for good reason. It offers many of the same benefits as our top pick, but with lower quality materials and a lower price tag. At 32 inches it’s tall enough for nearly any cat, and the sisal scratching fabric is long-lasting and cat-friendly. The base is proportionally wide for stability, and the design is neutral enough to not be an eyesore. Cat parents also appreciate the easy assembly.
The main weakness of this scratching post is the overall build quality. While SmartCat does not say exactly what kind of engineered wood they use, it appears to be some kind of particleboard. This material works fairly well, but it’s not as durable as plywood and can start to break down if exposed to moisture. Some users report mild wobbliness, which could be due to deteriorating particleboard. The sisal fabric is decent quality, but there may be inconsistencies based on reviews; some cat parents complain of fabric sagging or being pulled downwards by cats, while others mention that it wore out quickly.
Price: $50 Rating: 4.4/5 with 7,600 Amazon reviews Size: 41"H x 19"W x 19"L Materials: cardboard tube, sisal rope, faux fur, engineered wood base
A staple of the scratching post game, the MidWest Feline Nuvo Scratching Post is a towering 41 inches of scratchable sisal. As the tallest post on this list, it’s a great option for households with extra large cats (we see you, Maine Coons and Ragdolls). The thick, heavy base and relatively light cardboard post make this scratching post very stable. The post itself is divided into two identical sections, so when one half wears out it can swap positions with the other, extending the lifespan of the scratching surface. Overall, we like it because it provides the essentials at a reasonable price.
Similar to our #2 pick, this product mainly suffers from quality issues. Many recent reviews from repeat customers mention that the quality has dipped. Problems range from sisal coming unwrapped to the faux fur carpet shedding profusely. The use of cardboard in the post makes it budget-friendly but not particularly durable. Finally, some cat parents complain about the visual bulkiness of the post.
Price: $170 Rating: 4.6/5 with 903 Amazon reviews Size: 41.3"H x 17.7"W x 17.7"L Materials: PVC, chipboard, jute rope
Vetreska is known for making quirky, cute cat furniture, and this Cactus Scratching Post is a perfect example. While not our cup of tea style-wise, it’s undeniably adorable and could be a great fit for cat parents with playful decor. It’s tied for tallest post on our list at 41 inches, and every inch is wrapped in green jute rope. The multiple arms make it extra fun for climbing and playtime, and there’s also the option to add a flower bed at the top. The base is also wrapped in jute rope for any cats who prefer to scratch horizontally. Cat parents also remark on how easy it is to assemble.
Despite all its charms, this Vetreska Scratching Post has some notable drawbacks. First of all, it’s not as high quality as we would hope given the price tag. Several reviews mention the jute rope coming unwrapped from either the top or bottom. For a few others, the flower bed broke and exposed the staples underneath. The base is also not as stable as some others on this list, which could be due to the top heavy design and lightweight PVC piping. For these reasons, we recommend the version without the flower bed. Finally, there are a small handful of reviews which mentioned the post having a weird smell.
Price: $40 Rating: 4.4/5 with 7,600 Amazon reviews Size: 34"H x 15.7"W x 15.7"L Materials: cardboard tubing, chipboard base, sisal rope, faux fur
The Dimaka 34” Tall Scratching Post is our budget pick for cat parents who need a tall scratching surface for their feline. This post retails for only $40, but you can sometimes find it on sale for less. It’s tall enough for most cats to get a good stretch in and its slim profile means it doesn’t take up much visual space. The chipboard base is heavy and fairly stable. The sisal rope is durable and satisfying to scratch and the dangling toy on the top encourages playing and getting those zoomies out. Users also appreciate the easy assembly. If you need a tall scratching post in a pinch, this one gets the job done.
Unfortunately, the cheap price of this post reflects the cheap materials: faux fur, cardboard tubing, and chipboard. There are many reviews about cats destroying this post within a couple months, whether breaking attachment pieces, unraveling rope, or tipping it over. There are even some accounts of it breaking within a month, but this is less common. Other reviews mention wobbliness, which can lead to cats avoiding the post altogether. It’s also not the most stylish scratching post (we’re not fans of faux fur), but that’s ultimately a personal preference.
tall enough for most cats
wide base for stability
toy at top
poor quality materials
rope unravels easily
some accounts of wobbliness
not very stylish
faux fur carpet
Large Scratching Post FAQs
What are the benefits of a tall scratching post for large cats?
A tall scratching post allows large cats to engage in full-body stretching, which is essential for maintaining their flexibility and muscle tone. Additionally, tall scratching posts provide a dedicated space for cats to scent mark and remove old claw sheaths, preventing them from using your furniture for this purpose.
Are tall scratching posts suitable for kittens and small cats?
Yes, tall scratching posts are suitable for kittens and smaller cats as well. While scratching posts can be too small (i.e. not allowing for a full stretch), there’s no maximum size limit for scratching posts—all that matters is your cat can reach the scratching surface. For households with both large and small cats, a tall scratching post can serve every feline.
How do I ensure the scratching post is stable for my large cat?
Ensuring the stability of a scratching post for your large cat is essential. To achieve this, opt for posts with a broad and weighty base. This substantial base prevents wobbling during vigorous scratching sessions. Additionally, pay attention to the materials used in the post's construction. Posts made from sturdy materials like plywood tend to withstand the weight and strength of larger cats more effectively. Lastly, place the scratching post on a level and even surface to enhance its stability further.
Can I train my large cat to use a tall scratching post?
Yes, you can train your large cat to use a tall scratching post. If your cat isn't immediately drawn to the post, try scratching it yourself to demonstrate its purpose. You can also use pheromones or catnip to make the post more enticing. Be patient and consistent with positive reinforcement techniques, such as offering treats or praise when your cat uses the post. Placing the scratching post in an area where your cat spends a significant amount of time can also make it more appealing.
How do I clean and maintain a tall scratching post?
Proper maintenance of a tall scratching post is vital to ensure its longevity and your cat's continued enjoyment. Regularly inspect the post for signs of wear and tear, particularly the scratching surfaces. If you notice any areas that are worn out or frayed, consider replacing them promptly. To keep the post clean, use a vacuum or a brush to remove loose fibers or debris that may accumulate over time. If the scratching post has removable components, follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning.
A tall scratching post is a must-have for households with large cats, both to provide an outlet for your cat’s natural behaviors, and to save your furniture! We hope this article has provided you with some useful recommendations on what to look for in a tall scratching post and which brands offer them. Our top pick is the tuft + paw Zip Scratching Post for its high quality materials and modern design. Other good options are the SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post and MidWest Feline Nuvo Scratching Post, both of which are large, durable, and relatively affordable. If your taste leans a little more playful, the Vetreska Oasis Cactus Scratching Post could be up your alley. Lastly, the Dimaka 34” Scratching Post is a fine option for cat parents on a budget. Whichever post you end up choosing, just remember to prioritize your cat’s specific preferences. Good luck and happy scratching!