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Whether it’s your rug, your couch, or an awesome scratching post, your cat needs to scratch something.
Scratching isn’t all about sharpening claws – it’s a deeply-rooted physically and psychologically significant behavior. Even after they’ve been declawed, cats continue to exhibit scratching behaviors.
At a Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Cat Scratchers To Buy
Want a quick look at the products reviewed in this article? In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.
Pioneer Pet SmartCat The Ultimate Scratching Post
PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge
MidWest Feline Nuvo Grand Forte 40-inch Cat Scratching Post
Catit Scratcher Lounge
FatCat BigMama Scratchy Box
Top Picks Explained
Why Should You Trust This Review
We’ve spent a lot of time figuring out what it takes to make a good cat scratcher. We’ve researched the different types of cat scratching posts available, read hundreds of customer reviews, and performed real-world tests on over a dozen top rated products.
We spent over 50 hours testing the sturdiness, cat-friendliness, and durability of these scratchers. Based on this extensive research and hands-on testing, we’ve selected the following 5 cat scratchers as the best you can buy.
Here’s What We Know About Why Cats Scratch
Instead of continuously growing longer like human fingernails, your cat’s claws constantly grow new layers. Like the layers of an onion, the layers of your cat’s claws build from the inside out, eventually becoming dull and ragged on the outside.
Cats scratch to slough off the old outer layer and reveal the fresh new claws underneath.
Scratching isn’t just about removing those rough outer layers, however. As they scratch, cats release pheromones from the scent glands in their paws, leaving an unmistakable territorial mark.
The full arm extension and movement of scratching gives your cat the opportunity to stretch out its body, massaging its muscles and keeping it flexible.
Because scratching is part of being a happy, healthy cat, it’s important to provide an appropriate place for your cat to engage in this essential behavior. Without a scratching post, your cat will have to turn to other surfaces like your carpets, curtains, walls, and furniture.
But what makes a scratching post great?
In this article, we’ll take a look at the qualities of the best scratching posts and get to know the top 5 best cat scratching posts on the market.
Qualities Of The Best Cat Scratching Posts
The best cat scratching posts are made from durable, satisfying-to-scratch materials.
Cats need materials they can sink their claws into. The material should be easy to rip through and it should have a satisfying sensation as their claws tear across the surface.
At the same time, however, a good scratching post needs to hold up to years of vigorous use. A few months of use shouldn’t leave your cat’s scratching post a shredded mess.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular scratching post materials and evaluate how well they work.
While some cats enjoy ripping up carpet, either as part of a scratching post or installed in your home, carpet is generally unsatisfying. Instead of ripping through the soft fibers, your cat’s claws will likely snag in carpet loops, and that’s never a pleasant experience.
An unsatisfying scratching experience isn’t the only drawback of a carpet-covered scratcher.
Carpeted scratching posts blur the difference between approved and non-approved scratching surfaces. If you don’t have any carpet in your home, a carpeted scratching post might be acceptable. If you have carpeted floors, however, a carpeted post only creates confusion.
Made from the agave sisalana plant, natural sisal rope has a rough feel that makes it a popular choice for cat scratching posts. Some cats are jarred by the ridged texture of a sisal-wrapped post, however, preferring something that encourages longer, smoother scratches.
Because sisal rope is widely available and simple to use, it’s a popular choice for DIY’ers making their own scratching posts. Not only is it easy to use, but when your sisal rope scratching post falls apart after months or years of use, it’s easy to re-wrap it.
If you choose a sisal post, investigate the product to ensure you choose a good one. Select a tightly-wrapped and well-secured scratching post that can withstand serious use.
Humble cardboard is a big hit among cats – they love the claw-feel of corrugated cardboard because it shreds readily, which feels satisfying under the claws. Some also speculate that cats like the sound of cardboard being ripped.
While cardboard is fantastic from the feline perspective, it’s problematic for humans. That’s why it’s important to choose only high-quality cardboard scratchers.
On the low end of the price spectrum, cardboard scratchers are about as decorative as a cardboard box. If aesthetics are a priority, you’ll likely have to spend a little extra money.
Because they shred so easily, less durable cardboard scratchers release brown flakes that can spread around your house. It’s important to buy a high-quality cardboard scratcher that won’t be ripped to bits in a few months
Instead of a long strand of sisal rope, some scratching posts feature this woven sisal material. Unlike sisal rope, which has a jarring ridged texture on the scratching post, sisal fabric allows your cat to create long, satisfying strokes down the surface of the scratching post.
It’s more durable than sisal rope, carpet, or cardboard and it can be used on a variety of different surfaces.
The Best Cat Scratching Posts Are Strong and Stable
If your scratching post is exciting enough to elicit body slams, leaps, and rigorous scratching, it has to have the stability to withstand your cat’s passionate attentions. Make structural integrity a priority when choosing a scratching post. Seek out posts that are screwed, rather than glued, together.
Remember, you don’t want a scratching post that could tip over while your cat is using it. This becomes particularly important when evaluating a tall scratching post. A towering scratching post needs a base that balances out its height. The base should be substantial, weighty, and well-built so it doesn’t wobble.
The Best Cat Scratching Posts Have A Cat-friendly Design
Remember that scratching isn’t all about claws and paws – your cat uses scratching as an opportunity to stretch out the muscles and tendons in their entire body. That’s why it’s important to choose a scratching post that’s long enough to allow your cat to achieve a complete vertical or horizontal stretch.
Choose a scratching post that measures at least 1.5 times the length of your cat. This gives it enough scratching space to extend its legs and get a good stretch throughout the body.
This doesn’t necessarily mean your cat needs a tall scratching post.
Some cats love to reach up and scratch vertically, while others prefer to get long and low near the ground. If your cat has done any destructive scratching, you’ll likely be well aware of its preferences – does it scratch the walls or shred carpeting? Does it use both?
You might want to install multiple scratching posts in your home or choose posts with a variety of surfaces, allowing your cat to extend its limbs in multiple ways.
The Best Cat Scratching Post Fits into Your Home
Whether you’re looking for a scratching post that looks beautiful and aligns with your decorative tastes or just need one that won’t eat up floor space, don’t be afraid to think about your aesthetic needs when shopping for a scratching post.
Cat scratching posts can be made from a wide variety of materials and in all kinds of designs to suit both modern and classic décor styles. If you prefer a modern look, go for a cat scratcher with clean lines and modern materials.
The Top 5 Best Cat Scratching Posts On The Market
Chosen based on high cat approval ratings, functional and sturdy design, and high-quality materials, our picks for the top 5 best cat scratchers are all worthy choices to satisfy your cat’s scratching needs.
#1 Best Cat Scratching Post Overall: Pioneer SmartCat The Ultimate Scratching Post
Rated as the best scratching post on the market by many users, this Amazon bestseller is a well-loved piece that leaves both humans and cats impressed.On Amazon, the Ultimate Scratching Post has over 7400 customer reviews and a healthy 4.6 out of 5 star rating. Customers describe it as durable, sturdy, and made with a cat-friendly design. Thanks to its sturdy design and brawny 16” x 16” base, this scratching post can withstand rigorous scratching, along with climbing, jumping, and playing.
If your cat likes climbing the post, they might also like to use it with the optional perch designed to fit on top of the scratching post.
It measures 32” tall and has four wide sides, so your cat will have plenty of space to stretch and scratch. Neutral color tones make this scratching post an aesthetic fit for most homes.
- At 32” tall, this scratching post has enough height to satisfy your cat’s need for a vertical stretch
- Made from durable, satisfying sisal fabric
- Has a strong base and high-quality construction for stability
- Gets rave reviews from customers
- On the expensive end of the price spectrum
#2 Best Lounge: PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge
With its curvaceous peanut-shaped design, this combination scratcher-lounge is a piece of cat furniture that looks good in your home.The entire piece measures 34” long and 10.5” wide, giving your cat plenty of room to lounge and scratch. The curved design allows your cat to stretch out and scratch from multiple angles.
It’s made from durable cardboard and is reversible for longevity. Customer reviews indicate that this scratcher has an average lifespan of about two years.
- An attractive and unique design
- Made from claw-friendly cardboard
- Doubles as a comfortable lounge
- Reversible for twice the life
- Large enough for a full stretch
- Relatively expensive
- Doesn’t offer a vertical stretch for cats who like to reach up to scratch
#3 Best Tall Scratcher: MidWest Feline Nuvo Grand Forte 41-inch Cat Scratching Post
Although this list’s top pick was tall, this scratching post from MidWest Feline is nine inches taller, making it ideal for large cats who need plenty of vertical scratching space. If you have a lanky cat who doesn’t seem satisfied by anything shorter or flatter, try this 41” cat scratching post.
This scratching post’s height is balanced by a 19” x 19” base coated in soft faux-fur. The stable base makes it appropriate for vigorous scratching and adventurous climbing. Thanks to the faux fur top, this scratching post doubles as a comfortable lookout tower for your cat.
This scratching post would be better if it was made with sisal fabric. Instead, it’s wrapped in sisal rope. Although some cats prefer the wrapped feel, most will find that the rope is less durable and has an inferior claw-feel.
- At 41” tall, this is one of the tallest scratching posts on the market
- Features a soft faux fur top that makes a great lookout perch
- Has a large and sturdy base for stability
- Relatively expensive
- Made with sisal rope, which is sometimes less comfortable than sisal fabric
#4 Best Small Scratcher: Catit Scratcher Lounge
This cardboard scratcher lounge comes in two patterns and features a curved design that appeals to cats. In addition to the curved design, the size and shape of the scratcher makes it a great option for cats who like to scratch and stretch horizontally.
The Catit Scratcher Lounge measures 19.5” by 8.5” by 3” and is reversible so you get double the usage. The corrugated cardboard material gives your cat a pleasant surface to scratch on while helping protect your furniture from claw damage.
- Curved design appeals to cats
- Good option for horizontal stretching
- Reversible for greater longevity
- Comes with catnip
- Produces a lot of messy debris
#5 Best Budget: FatCat BigMama Scratchy Box
Easily one of the most affordable cat scratchers on the market, this model is priced just under $10. This scratcher is made from eco-friendly recycled and recyclable corrugated cardboard and it’s reversible to double the scratching life.
Plus, it comes with catnip you can sprinkle on it to entice your cat to scratch. This cardboard scratcher measures 2” by 10” by 19” and comes with two yarn toys in the corners.
- One of the cheapest scratchers available
- Reversible for greater longevity
- Comes with catnip and a toy
- Sprays messy debris across the floor
Other Cat Scratching Posts We Like
If the scratching posts above don’t seem like the perfect fit for your cat, you’ll be glad to know we have a few more options for you. Here are five more unique cat scratching posts you might like.
#6 Best Horizontal Scratching Post: SmartCat Bootsie’s Combination Scratcher
If you have a cat who enjoys horizontal scratching, this combination scratcher may be a good choice. It measures 24 inches long by 7 inches wide and can be used vertically or horizontally. You can even mount it to the wall or hang it over a door.
This combination cat scratcher is made from heavy-duty materials to give your cat years of use. It’s made from durable sisal material that naturally encourages scratching and features rubber feet to keep it from sliding on the floor.
- Allows for vertical or horizontal scratching
- Heavy-duty construction with durable sisal material
- Affordably priced under $20
- Some cats may not be interested in a horizontal scratchpad
#7 Best Window Scratcher: K&H Pet Products EZ Mount Window Scratcher
If your cat enjoys lounging as much as scratching, this window-mounted scratcher could be the perfect pick. It securely attaches to any window in seconds using a proven suction cup mounting system. Plus, with its dual-purpose cardboard surface, it’s great for scratching as well as soaking up the sun.
This window-mounted cat scratcher features a curved design for your cat’s comfort. Once your cat uses up the scratching surface, you can simply purchase a refill.
- Window-mounted design for lounging and scratching
- Easy to install with suction cup mounting system
- Replaceable cardboard inserts for long-lasting use
- May be more expensive than other models
#8 Best Novelty Cat Scratch Post: Frisco Cactus Cat Scratching Post
Bring some whimsy into your home while fulfilling your cat’s scratching desires with this cactus-shaped scratching post. It comes in two different heights (22 or 31 inches) and features a wide base for stability. Your cat will scratch all day while you enjoy the fun design.
This cat scratching post is wrapped with sisal rope to promote scratching but has a plush fabric material on the top and base for your cat to nuzzle. It’s quick and easy to assemble and, best of all, affordably prided under $20.
- Affordably priced under $20
- Cute and whimsical cactus design
- Available in two different heights
- Plush material may not stand up to heavy use
#9 Best Wall Mounted Scratching Post: 4CLAWS Wall Mounted Scratching Post
Wall mounted scratching posts are a great choice for people with limited floor space. These pieces are sleek and unobtrusive, helping to maximize your space. If your cat is a vertical scratcher who loves to get tall as they stretch and scratch, a wall mounted scratcher will be a satisfying choice for them.
The scratcher measures 18” tall, which is a little bit shorter than the ideal scratching post. You can maximize your cat’s stretch by positioning it at the ideal height on your wall.
- The wall mounted design is great for small houses and apartments
- Adjustable height makes it a good fit for most cats
- Because it mounts to your wall, this scratching post is highly stable
- Made from sisal rope, which isn’t a great fit for every cat
- Some customers say that the scratching post wasn’t long enough for their cat
#10 Best Cardboard Cat Scratcher: KONG Naturals Cat Scratcher Incline
This cardboard scratcher has a simple wedge design that cats love. The angled scratching pad provides a great stretch and is reversible and replaceable for years of use.It features a cubby hole and built-in toy, making it a multifunctional addition to the home. To help entice your cat to use the Kong Naturals scratcher, the product comes with mountain-grown catnip.
At less than $10, this is a winning low-price option, but it does have a couple of problems. Because it’s made from lightweight cardboard, the scratcher can slide around during use. You may want to weigh it down to keep it in place during vigorous scratching sessions.
If your cat likes to stretch up while they scratch, this inclined design won’t give your cat the intense vertical stretch they crave.
- Made from claw-friendly corrugated cardboard
- Features a replaceable and reversible cardboard scratching pad
- Inclined scratching pad is ergonomically designed for a great stretch
- You’ll need to replace the scratching pad regularly
- Not the most stylish design
How to Make Your Own Cat Scratching Post?
Not satisfied with the cat scratching posts that are currently available for sale?
Consider making your own scratching post instead. Homemade scratching posts range from complex DIY projects to simple ones that require little more than a pizza box and glue.
This tutorial explains how to make your own sisal rope scratching post:
If you prefer something a little bit simpler, or if your cat is a cardboard scratcher enthusiast, you can also make a basic design using a pizza box.
Although the person who made the following video said they created their scratcher from a used box, you might prefer to request a clean box the next time you’re in a pizza restaurant.
How Do You Make Your Cat Use Their New Scratching Post?
Remember that your cat uses the scratching post as an opportunity to mark its territory. So, it’s a good idea to place the post in socially-significant parts of the home.
Your cat’s previous scratching behavior can show you where it likes to scratch. If your cat is known to scratch a couch arm or a specific patch of carpet, consider placing the new scratching post near one of those problem areas.
Once you’ve selected a location for the scratching post, it’s time to entice your cat to use it.
If you’ve chosen a size and style that matches your cat’s interests, your cat’s natural scratching instinct should do most of the work. If you’re concerned about your cat’s hesitance to use the post, there are a few things you can do to push things in the right direction.
Spray the scratching post with catnip spray. This will encourage your cat to spend time around the scratching post and, eventually, it will entice it to dig in their claws for the first time.
You could also incorporate the scratching post into play sessions with your cat. Use a wand toy to encourage your cat to put its paws on the scratching post as it dives for the toy. You could even get a scratching post that has a hanging toy attached.
Finally, you can never go wrong with a little food motivation. Sprinkling treats around the scratching post or rewarding your cat for using it could go a long way.
- How to Stop Your Cat Scratching Furniture
- Declawing Cats: What You Need to Know
- Best Nail and Claw Caps for Cats
Frequently Asked Questions
Do scratching posts really work for cats?
If you find a scratching post your cat likes, it can definitely work to reduce unwanted scratching on other surfaces. In addition to giving your cat an outlet for its scratching instincts, a scratching post can give your cat something to stretch out on.
What do cats like to scratch the most?
Every cat is unique, so you may have to try different scratching post materials to see what your cat likes best. Some of the best scratching materials include sisal rope or fabric, cardboard, and even wood.
How do I get my cat to scratch on a new post?
Some cats won’t need any encouragement but if you’re having trouble getting your cat to use a new post, try catnip spray or flakes to encourage interest. You could also involve the post in playtime with your cat and encourage it to use the post with treats.