If you, like us, are a cat parent on the search for optimal cat-human harmony, then the importance of providing the right scratching objects for your cat cannot be overstated. Indoor cats don’t have trees or rocks to satisfy their scratching instincts on, so as cat parents we need to make sure they have other outlets available. Plus, with the right scratching post, your cat will choose the post over your favorite piece of furniture. But don't just take it from us!
Here at tuft + paw, we are cat experts. We're intimately familiar with features that are most important to cats, like sturdiness and scratching materials. To compile this list, we consulted a veterinarian, cat behaviorist, and product designer to determine which ten scratching posts stand above the rest.
Tip: If you're looking for something a little bigger for your cat's activities, check out our list of the best cat trees.
According to veterinarian Megan Teiber, “Scratching is a natural instinct for cats--it allows them to stretch, mark their territory, and wear down sharp claws. Scratching posts that are placed in key areas around the home provide environmental enrichment for cats.”
Cats love to scratch, it’s a basic instinct! Without something to scratch on, you’ll find your cat scratching walls, door frames and even furniture. That’s why scratching posts are so important for your home, and even more important for your cat.
Let’s take a look at the specific reasons why scratching posts are important to cats.
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a cat scratch, you know that cats have both long and sharp nails. Sure, you can try and trim them, but unless you have a really patient cat that can be difficult.
That’s where scratching posts come in. Scratching posts naturally allow cats to wear down their nails and shed old nail sheaths, keeping them healthy.
Tall, vertical posts are great for stretching. If you observe your cat reaching up to scratch surfaces, that might mean they want a little extra stretching in their lives. According to Live Science, cats stretch because it feels good, but also increases blood flow after hours of sleeping. Both are great reasons to provide scratching posts for your cats.
Lastly, cats need to mark their territory and they straight-up love to scratch. Cats release pheromones when scratching which help them feel comfortable and at home. No matter where they live, they'll find something to scratch somehow. Veterinarian Megan Teiber has the lowdown on what might be causing them to scratch your beloved couch and why scratching posts are important to own:
“ dissuades them from clawing at furniture and other undesirable behavior, which typically occurs when an environment is not properly enriched for their needs.”
So it's not just a territory issue either--if a cat is feeling bored, they’ll start scratching.
Cat Scratching Post Features
Next, let’s talk about the most important features to consider when shopping for a scratching post. We spoke to tuft + paw designer and engineer Steve Suchy to get his perspective on which features he considers when designing a scratching post.
According to Suchy, a scratching post material “needs to be able to be worn without totally unravelling.” There are a few materials that satisfy these requirements, sisal fabric and sisal rope being two of them.
Additionally, some cats enjoy carpet, but those scratching posts tend to wear and fray very easily. Other materials include wood or cardboard, which can both be good materials depending on your situation. Wood lasts longer, but cardboard scratchers are usually inexpensive and easy to replace.
Horizontal vs Vertical Scratching Posts
Though scratching posts are usually vertical, not all cats like to scratch upwards. Instead, they love to scratch on horizontal surfaces. It’s important that before you purchase a scratching post, you spend some time observing your cat in order to discover what the best arrangement is for your scratching post.
Size & Stability
As we already mentioned, cats love to get in a good stretch while scratching. The perfect scratching post will provide enough room for them to fully extend their body. Think of it like a yoga-mat-sized nail file.
Of course, if your cat is putting their whole body into scratching, you need to make sure the scratching post is stable too. Opt for one with a wide base and that's heavy enough to stay put during your kitty's shenanigans (as seen below).
Scratching posts should be replaced when the material is worn, fraying and damaged. If the scratching post is no longer appealing to the cat, that might mean a replacement is necessary.
How do I clean my scratching post?
A vacuum, fresh air and sunlight can work wonders on a scratching post. If a scratching post is made of carpet, spot cleaning may be necessary. Sisal and other rope scratching posts will most likely not need to be cleaned.
How do I teach my cat to use their scratching post?
Feliway and catnip are good teaching tools, usually. In addition, place scratching posts near the areas your cat usually likes to scratch. If you hide the scratching surface away, it won’t get used.
What is the best scratching post material?
The answer truly depends on both you and your cat. If your cat isn’t using their scratching post, try a different material. Sisal is typically a favorite for both its texture and durability.
This scratching post is an instant classic. With its vertical design and 3 foot height, it provides ample space for cats of any size to full-body stretch, scratch, and climb. The post is wrapped in natural sisal fabric, one of the most desirable materials for scratching posts. In addition, the wide base makes the Zip one of the most stable scratching posts you can find at this height.
Sisal Fabric: Sisal fabric is a favorite among cats. It’s highly durable and has a texture that they love. It’s a great material for a scratching post.
Price: This cost is a bit higher than you might have spent on a scratching post before, but with sisal, this scratching post will last for years.
3 Feet Tall: For a cat that loves to stretch upwards, vertical scratching posts are great for cats.
Natural Materials: No more synthetics and shedding carpet, this scratching post was created using natural materials.
Stylish Design: This post's mid-century aesthetic will look great with a wide array of decor and furniture.
As a runner-up selection, this wall mounted scratching post is a great option. It's available in a range of sizes and it saves floor space by being wall mounted. We also like that the individual pole segments can be replaced after they're worn out. Some cats may also like using the top shelf of this scratching post as a perch. As long as you're okay with drilling holes in your wall, this post is a solid choice.
Sisal Material: Sisal rope is an amazing texture for cats. It’s also highly durable.
Wall Mounted: If you’re hoping to avoid drilling into your walls, this may not be a great option for you.
Saves Floor Space: Since it’s wall mounted, it saves valuable floor space.
Price: Though cheaper than our first pick, it may still be out of budget for some cat parents.
Replaceable Segments: Each pole segment can be swapped out and replaced.
The Tab Scratching Board is quite the rarity--it's not every day you see a carpeted scratching post that still looks extremely modern. The board itself can be laid horizontally on the ground, diagonally against the wall, or mounted vertically with the optional aluminum frame, giving your furry friend all sorts of scratching options. The frame is mounted directly into the wall, but the board can be detached or reattached in seconds depending on your cats needs. If you'd rather not drill into your wall, the Tab can be purchased without the frame.
Satisfying Texture: If your cat loves carpet above all else, this scratching surface is perfect for them.
Price: Durable materials means an increased cost.
Modern Design: This versatile board is as modern as it gets, with multiple scratching options in an eye-pleasing package.
Durable Materials: The carpet needn’t be replaced anytime soon, this fabric is durable.
Price: $50 Rating: 4.8/5 with 17,464 Amazon reviews Materials: Cardboard
Cardboard scratchers don't usually scream "modern", but this one does an admirable job of combining aesthetics with lower cost materials. At three feet long and nearly a foot wide, it's plenty big for most cats, but that also means it takes up a fair bit of floor space. Another consideration is that, being made from cardboard, this scratcher isn't as durable as some others on our list and will shed over time. Overall, if you have a mid-range budget and enough room in your home, this scratcher will serve you and your cat very well.
Thoughtful Design: For a cardboard scratcher, this design looks nice and provides a comfy hangout zone.
Materials: While it does seem to be decent quality, this scratcher is still made from cardboard. It will break down faster than sisal, shed little bits, and is vulnerable to moisture.
Stability: The wide base and shape of this scratcher make it more stable than most other cardboard scratchers.
Price: Some may not want to spend $50 on a cardboard scratcher.
Size: This scratcher is large enough for a full-body stretch and scratch.
Size: Though great for cats, this scratcher takes up a lot of floor space.
This post is a good all-rounder if you're on a budget. It's wrapped in durable sisal rope, is a decent height, and even has a little ball on a string for feline entertainment. It doesn't stand out style-wise, but of course, that's more of a human concern than a cat one. Some reviews also voiced concerns about its stability, with some cats being able to knock it over during vigorous activity. Assuming your cat isn't launching themselves at it, this post should cover most scratching needs at a very low price.
Price:This scratching post is inexpensive and offers good value. That’s why it’s our budget pick!
Style: As a budget pick, this post provides great function but lacks a little panache.
Materials:Durable sisal rope makes this scratching post last a long while.
Stability: Some cats may be able to accidentally tip it over.
Added Toy:The plush ball makes this post useful for both scratching and playing.
The Catit Butterfly Chaise scratcher is our budget runner-up at a price of only $14. If you just want to provide your cat a decent scratching spot for minimal cash, this is a great option. It comes with a bag of catnip to get your kitty stoked on scratching and can also be oriented vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Of course, you do get what you pay for: pure function over style, and a corrugated cardboard construction. The cardboard will shred much faster than rope, and a water spill could severely damage the structure's integrity.
Price:This scratching post is the least expensive product on our list.
Materials: Cardboard provides a satisfying scratch, but it's not very durable and will break down quickly compared to sisal.
Versatility: This scratcher's unique shape allows for scratching vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.
Style: The corrugated cardboard and the purple exterior isn't the most stylish.
Catnip: This scratcher comes with a bag of catnip to guide your cat away from your poor couch.
Price: $55 Rating: 4/5 with 5 reviews Materials: Pine wood
You don’t see a ton of wood scratching boards, but here's one! Made completely of pine, this scratcher is great for cats that prefer a scratching incline rather than a vertical stretch. Wood is arguably the most durable scratching material, but the flip side of that is the texture doesn't appeal to cats as much as sisal or cardboard. Also, the natural pine scent of the wood might turn off some cats with sensitive snouts. If you've used pine litter in the past though, this scratcher's mild scent shouldn't be a problem. The last thing to consider is that this board might be too small for large cats to get a full-body stretch.
Durability: Since this scratcher is all wood, it’s extremely durable. It’s also good for cats that prefer scratching on wood materials, like door frames.
Material: If your cat does not prefer wood, this isn’t the right scratcher for them.
Inclined: Rather than a scratcher that’s parallel with the floor, this scratcher offers a nice incline.
Scent: The pine smell might turn off some cats
Design: The simple look will fit in with most decor styles.
Size: At 19 inches long, this board might be too small for large cats.
This multi-purpose scratching setup includes a horizontal sisal post, a strip of sisal carpet, and a plush ball toy in a compact package. The size means it can be easily tucked out of view, but it also doesn't give your cat a ton of real estate to stretch (16 x 12 inches). It could be a great option for kittens, but probably isn't ideal for larger cats. We recommend this post for cat parents who have small cats and want multiple scratching options at an affordable price.
Price:This scratching post is affordable for most cat parents.
Style: The grey carpet isn't the most chic, but it gets the job done.
Materials:Durable sisal rope makes this scratching post last a long while and it has an anti-slip bottom.
Size: Though conveniently sized, this post doesn't allow most cats to fully stretch.
Added Toy:The plush ball will be great fun for most cats.
Created using MDF sheets and felt carpet, this scratching post is less of a post and more of a scratching house. Cats can lounge inside of it as well as scratch on each side of the house. It’s simple to set up and requires very little assembly. It's got a cute look, has multiple uses, and is constructed from sturdy materials. The only real drawbacks are that it's small and the company is headquartered in Brazil, so shipping might be a hassle.
Unique: The house shape gives this scratching post a unique look. If you’re tired of the traditional post, this scratching cabin is for you.
Small: This scratching cabin is on the smaller side, so may not be great for larger cats.
Sleeping Space: Because this is a scratching cabin, there’s a small space for cats to sleep in.
Inconvenient: This company is located in Brazil, so shipping may be expensive.
Sturdy: The MDF board means this cabin is as sturdy as it is light.
If you want a scratching post that’s as natural as it gets, Phoenix Feline Furniture is the place to shop. These scratching posts are handmade from actual driftwood, so each one is unique and you can be sure it'll last a long time. We should also mention that the whole company is a one person operation--charming! That being said, not every cat will prefer to scratch wood if there are sisal or carpeted options available (like your couch, for example).
Natural: If you want an actual natural material in your home, look no further. This driftwood is as natural as it gets.
Inconsistency: Because it's a natural product, there is no standardization. Each one you buy will be very different.
Unique: Because it’s driftwood, each one is unique.
Material:If your cat does not prefer wood, this isn’t the right scratcher for them.
Sturdy: Durable materials and handmade construction make for a robust scratching post.
That wraps up our list of the top 10 scratching posts! We hope you found this article useful in your search for the perfect scratchable furniture. Every cat has their own specific preferences, so make sure you pay attention to what things your cat likes to scratch before picking out a scratching post. Who knows, maybe one of the options here is exactly what you and your feline have been looking for!