Scratch This, Not That! Your Guide to the Best Cat Scratching Posts and Scratchers

By: Linda RodgersUpdated:

best cat scratching pos and cat scratchers buying guide
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Scratch This, Not That! Your Guide to the Best Cat Scratching Posts and Scratchers

All cats need to scratch something—it’s in their DNA. “It’s a big part of how cats interact with their environment and even interact with other cats,” says Marci L. Koski, Ph.D., a certified feline behavior and training consultant and founder of Feline Behavior Solutions in Vancouver, Washington. Scratching keeps cats’ claws healthy, so they can catch critters (or toys) and protect themselves. Scratching also stretches their back muscles, which feels especially good to your fur-friend after a snooze. Bottom line: Your pet has to scratch something up, so get the best cat scratching post you can find. Otherwise, there goes your furniture!

But as you’ve probably discovered, felines are finicky. And not all cat scratching posts are created equal. We’ve rounded up a variety of scratching posts, cat scratch pads and everything in between to help you find the best one to suit your kitty’s scratching needs.

What to Consider Before Buying Cat Scratching Posts or Scratchers

Before you spend money on something your cat ignores in favor of the sofa, here are some questions to ask yourself as you hunt for a cat scratching post or cat scratcher in general:

  • What is your cat already scratching up? “A lot of people don’t realize that your cat is already telling you what she wants in a scratcher,” Koski says. “If she’s scratching the arm of your couch from the floor, she’ll probably prefer a vertical scratcher. If she is scratching your carpet horizontally, she may prefer a horizontal scratcher.”
  • What types of material is your cat drawn to? Scratchers come in a variety of textures, including carpet, carboard and sisal (a strong durable fiber that often comes in a rope form). Again, look to your cat for answers. “Some cats will scratch wooden doorjambs. OK, so maybe something that is vertical and made of wood would be an appropriate scratcher for them. And some cats prefer carpet or sisal,” she says, especially if they like to scratch your rug. Most cats will also go for a cardboard cat scratcher—cats also scratch to leave their mark and cardboard is an easy way for felines to see their handiwork.
  • How sturdy is it? “The problem with a lot of cat scratchers is that they move or tip over when a cat tries to use them,” says Koski. So you need a scratcher your pet can put their full weight on and really reach out, stretch and scratch. How can you tell you’ve gotten the best cat scratching post? Jiggle the top of it and if it wobbles, it’s not sturdy enough, Koski notes. One solution: “Try to tighten it by adding screws at the base.” And if your scratcher slides easily across the floor when you push it, Koski advises putting non-skid carpet padding or a yoga mat underneath it.
  • How big is it? Another mistake cat parents make is getting a cat scratching post or a cat scratching pad that is too short or too small for their pet. “I always think larger is better for cats because your cat actually can reach up and stretch a fair amount,” says Koski. For horizontal scratchers, wider is better too. “Most adult cats are going to want something fairly stable that they can walk on,” she notes.
  • Will I need more than one scratcher? Koski recommends getting a few and placing them around the home: 1. Where your cat likes to sleep. “One of the first things cats do when they wake up is stretch and scratch.” And 2. Next to things your cat already likes to scratch. “[If] you notice that your chair’s getting hit hard, put a scratching post right next to your chair and encourage your cat to use the scratcher” with treats or a sprinkle of cat nip. (More on that below.)
  • Do I have more than one cat? Although a pair of cats can share smaller cardboard scratchers just fine, bigger may be the way to go if you have two or more kitties. “If you have a large cat tree, it can definitely enable multiple cats to scratch and use that same structure and share the space better,” Koski says.

Now that you’re armed with the basics for getting the best cat scratching post, here is a rundown of all the different types and which ones may suit your furry friend better.

Types of Cat Scratching Posts, Pads and More

best cat scratching post - frisco cactus

Vertical Cat Scratching Posts

If your cat digs reaching up and clawing the chair or sofa arm, then get a vertical cat scratch pole. Ditto if you’ve got younger, more agile kitties. Go for something tall with a wide base, like this Frisco Cactus Cat Scratching Post. It’s wrapped in sisal, which many cats like for its rough texture, and comes with a little ball attached to one of the cactus arms for extra playtime. Plus, it’s super cute! 
Perfect for: Long, lanky cats who like to stretch; younger, more active cats
Two by Two City Cat Deluxe European 24-in Faux-Fur Cat Scratching Post
FREE 1-3 day shipping
The Refined Feline Calypso 31-in Rattan Cat Scratching Post
FREE 1-3 day shipping

Temporarily out of stock

Frisco 21-in Sisal Cat Scratching Post with Toy
best cat scratching pad - frisco

Horizontal Cat Scratchers

Cats stand on a horizontal scratcher, anchor their claws and pull back, so they’re not going to stretch out their entire length the way they’d do with a cat scratching post. Sometimes they even nap on these scratchers, which are usually boards or pads. This Frisco Sisal Scratching Board, for example, comes equipped with a rolling post and toy can keep your cat entertained even longer. 
Perfect for: Older cats, especially those with joint pain who find it hard to stand for a long time.
K&H Pet Products EZ Mount Window Scratcher
Catit Lounge Scratcher with Catnip
Catit Bench Scratcher with Catnip
best cat scratcher - angled scratcher from frisco

Angled Cat Scratchers

Cats can use angled scratchers in a range of ways. They can reach up and stretch on the incline, or they can scratch backward on the decline (with their claws at the bottom and tail at the top). The Frisco Nesting Cat Scratcher comes with three angled cardboard scratchers, ranging from 7.5-3.5 inches in height. Line them up by size or place them in different spots around the house.
Perfect for: Cats who like to stretch and scratch from a variety of positions.
Catry Sunflower 23.2-in Sisal Cat Scratching Post with Toy
Trixie Topi Sisal Cat Scratcher & Condo
Fat Cat Big Mama's Scratch 'N Play Ramp Cat Toy
best cat scratcher - hanging scratcher board from frisco

Hanging Cat Scratchers

Hanging scratchers typically are hung from a doorknob. If you find that it moves too much for your cat to get pleasure from it, Koski recommends wall-anchored ones. That’s what makes this Frisco Wall Sisal Cat Scratcher so great. You can attach it to a wall or corner with Velcro or screws, or simply lay it flat on the ground and use it as a horizontal scratcher. It’s large enough so your cat will love napping on it, too. 
Perfect for: All cats, young and old (depending on how you mount it).
Petlinks Claws Up Hanging Cat Scratcher Toy with Catnip

Temporarily out of stock

CatastrophiCreations Climb Wall Mounted Activity Cat Tree Shelf Set
FREE 1-3 day shipping

Temporarily out of stock

Pet Life Paw-Pleasant Eco-Natural Sisal & Jute Hanging Carpet Kitty Cat Scratcher
best cat scratching post -with bed from Frisco

Multifunctional Cat Scratchers

Cat trees that pets can use to scratch, climb, perch, and sleep are good options, says Koski. They tend to be taller and sturdier, so you don’t have to worry about them tipping over and scaring your kitty. The Frisco 32-inch Real Carpet Wooden Cat Tree with Toy fits the bill. It’s a scratching post (thanks to the sisal covered pole) and a perch (or cat scratcher lounge) made with ZZZ’s-inducing plush carpet.
Perfect for: Younger cats who like to climb and jump on things.
Vesper Minou 15.94-in Modern Cat Scratcher with Toy
FREE 1-3 day shipping
Necoichi Cozy Scratcher Cat Bed
Vesper High Base 47.8-in Modern Cat Tree & Condo
FREE 1-3 day shipping
If you find your picky kitty isn’t using the scratcher at first, don’t give up. “Encourage your cat to use the scratcher by holding something—a toy or a treat—over it that your cat has to reach for,” Koski suggests. Or try sprinkling a little catnip on it. Once your cat uses the scratcher, reward them with treats, praise, play, petting, affection or whatever your cat enjoys, Koski adds. That will motivate your furry friend to keep using the scratcher instead of the sofa.


By: Linda RodgersUpdated: