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8 Cat Scratching Posts to Keep Claws Off Your Furniture

Cats scratch to stay physically and emotionally healthy. Choose one of these cat-tested and pet-parent-approved cat scratching posts to keep felines happy (and your furniture safe).

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Cat Scratching PostsVIA MERCHANT (3)

One of the top behavior complaints I’m asked to address as a certified animal behavior consultant is cats scratching the furniture. Clawing goes beyond kneading behavior, when cats “make biscuits” out of happiness. There’s no stopping this normal feline scratching behavior, but you can combat it with a cat scratching post.

Cats tell us the type of surface they prefer by scratching up illegal targets. That varies from upholstery to carpet, wood or even cardboard. So if there are claw marks on the sofa, choose a cat scratching post with similar fabric.

Not every feline wants the same cat scratching post. Cats all have some behaviors in common, but they’re also individuals. Some kitties want to scratch high overhead and need a vertical scratching post. Others prefer to stretch out and scratch on horizontal surfaces. My old lady cat, Seren, used to lie on her back and scratch the underside of the furniture, pulling herself along the floor. My current boy, Karma-Kat, first rubs against me and then uses my pant leg as a moveable scratch post.

Whatever your cat prefers, there’s a scratching post to suit them.

Cat Scratching Postvia merchant

Best Overall Cat Scratching Post

SmartCat Pioneer Pet Ultimate Scratching Post

Nothing beats this simple, effective scratching post from SmartCat for durability and cat acceptance. My own Karma-Kat votes with his claws and adores this Pioneer Ultimate Scratching Post. Elegant and easy to move, cats love the woven sisal surface that gives claws an excellent workout while the sturdy base keeps it in place. It’s tall enough for a full-body stretch, but compact to fit in a range of rooms.

For cats who prefer horizontal scratching, this option works just as well on its side. We placed ours between the sofa and a side chair, and that eliminated Karma’s claws on the furniture. Although he’s used it for years, it stands up to Karma’s assault and still looks new. SmartCat priced it reasonably, so you can get more than one and place them in all your cats’ favorite scratch locations.

Pros

  • Position it vertically or horizontally
  • Quick assembly with two provided screws
  • Elegant, clean look to prevent pet-related eyesores

Cons

  • May take a while for some cats to accept the tight weave

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Cat Scratching Postvia merchant

Best Value Cat Scratching Post

Frisco Double Cat Scratcher Toy With Catnip

Does your cat love to scratch cardboard boxes? The Double Cat Scratcher gets horizontal scratchers’ purr a-rumbling and won’t break the bank. The material shreds easily, making the cat’s markings satisfying. Costing under $9 each—even less in multiples—these scratchers easily go everywhere your cat loves to lounge. She just may choose to snooze on the box and wake up to a convenient morning scratch. The outside frame comes in four colorful-yet-neutral styles, and you can order refills of the reversible cardboard insert separately. Did I mention this scratcher comes with potent catnip to get the action started?

Pros

  • Under $9 with refills available
  • Comes with a catnip enhancement
  • Available in four fun patterns

Cons

  • Lightweight, so may move when cat scratches
  • Shreds easily, which may lead to a mess and require regular refills

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Cat Scratching Postvia merchant

Best Splurge Cat Scratching Post

Frisco 6-Foot Faux Fur Cat Tree & Condo

The Frisco Faux Fur Condo may be an investment, but the real “splurge” comes from all the ways a cat can enjoy this scratching post and tree. Cats adore lounging up high, and the 6-foot platforms tempt them to scale the heights. With eight levels, including a fun hideout near floor level, this unit offers perching opportunities for multiple cats at once. Even better, felines can choose to scratch horizontally, vertically or (like my old lady cat) overhead. They get access to sisal and fur-like fabric, a rope teaser and suspended toys to add to the fun. This tall piece reinforces your cat’s opinion of herself as the queen, and the high levels may also persuade her to stay off your countertops.

Pros

  • 6 feet tall with eight levels and multiple claw surfaces
  • Enough space for more than one cat to share
  • Comes with dangling toys for added fun

Cons

  • On the expensive side
  • Not ideal for small spaces

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Cat Scratching Postvia merchant

Best Cat Scratching Post on Amazon

Go Pet Club 62-Inch Cat Condo

This cat scratching post tower offers three lookout perches, a hiding box and two cat hammocks. The Go Pet Club Cat Condo comes in five colors and includes multiple scratch surfaces and levels. The steady base provides added security even if multiple cats are racing up and down the ladder or the pass-through hole on the first level. Sadly, jumbo-sized cats probably won’t fit on the hammocks or in the condo. In that case, use those spaces as toy storage compartments and entice your cats to “fish” out the fun toys.

Pros

  • Offers multiple scratching spots and hammocks
  • Easy to assemble with included tools and instructions
  • Available in five fashionable color options

Cons

  • Arrives in a very large box
  • Small hiding spots won’t suit large cats

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Cat Scratching Postvia merchant

Best Hanging Cat Scratching Post

SmartyKat Scratch Up Hanging Corrugated Cat Scratchers

This SmartyKat Hanging Scratcher simply hangs over a doorknob, a huge convenience for small-space pet owners. Cats often want to scratch near entryways and passages, like halls, to mark the important territory. This low-tech and low-cost option is catnip-infused, but keep in mind that about one-third of cats won’t react to catnip. I recommend including these along with other cat scratching post options. Remember, cats like multiple locations and surfaces, so this is an inexpensive supplemental option.

Pros

  • Hanging design is easy to move and takes up little space
  • Inexpensive
  • Infused with catnip
  • No assembly required

Cons

  • Not all cats understand the purpose
  • Small cats may not reach if doorknob too high
  • Makes a mess on floor when shredded

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Cat Scratching Postvia merchant

Best Compact Cat Scratching Post

Frisco 20-Inch Faux Fur Cat Tree

No room for a giant cat condo? Cats still need legal scratching opportunities, and the Frisco 20-Inch Cat Tree offers great value in a compact form that’s easy to assemble. This piece includes two sisal-covered posts for scratching and a hammock suspended between them. One prime scratch time is when cats first wake up, so the configuration offers a double-your-fun option. The two suspended pom-pom toys tempt cats to bat them, and clawing at the toys gives her a taste for sharpening those needles on the posts instead of furniture. This miniature cat tree fits in even tiny apartments. Plus, at the economical price, adding more than one to your home provides multiple cats all the claw options they desire.

Pros

  • Compact size: 22 inches long by 22 inches wide by 20 inches tall
  • Straightforward assembly instructions
  • Economical price
  • Designed with cat behavior in mind

Cons

  • Not the best for larger cats

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Cat Scratching Postvia merchant

Best Cat Scratching Post for Kittens

Pawz Road Cat Scratching Post and Pad

This Pawz Road Cat Scratching Post and Pad works well for all cats, but even better for kittens. The horizontal sisal post offers several ways for a cat to interact with it, including climbing on top of the bar, biting it or lying down and clawing around it. This affordable scratching post takes up little space and features a soft pad for additional scratching opportunities. For larger adult cats who outweigh some posts or platforms, this configuration lets them bully and tear up the sisal to their chubby hearts’ content. As for kittens, consider this a starter kit for the babies learning what to do with those paws. It includes a removable ball on a spring, but please supervise interactions with metal components. I’d recommend removing it altogether and finding a better cat toy.

Pros

  • Low, compact size won’t tip over and suits cats of all ages
  • Can be assembled within minutes
  • Includes a fully wrapped scratching post

Cons

  • Scratch pad shreds more easily
  • Safety concern with spring-attached toy

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Cat Scratching Postvia merchant

Best Cardboard Cat Scratching Post

PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge

For cats who adore scratching cardboard and humans who prefer a more stylish look, I have the answer. The PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge, made from compressed corrugated cardboard, combines an elegant infinity symbol design, function and long-lasting quality. The gentle curves invite cats to lounge, the holes beckon them to play hide-and-seek and the texture tempts them to test claws.

Both cats and humans love the design, especially since there’s nothing to assemble or tip over. When your cat completely shreds the top side, flip over the lounge for a fresh, new-looking scratcher. There’s no need to hide this scratcher, as it looks like a high-end minimalist furniture piece and comes in three colors to fit existing decor. For households with one or two cats, expect it to last four to six months.

Pros

  • Made with superior cardboard material for long-lasting use
  • Award-winning design, including the 2015 Eco-Excellence Award
  • Comes in white, gray and brown colors

Cons

  • On the expensive side

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What to look for when buying cat scratching posts

Besides what a cat prefers, some generalities apply to choosing cat scratching posts. Quality cat posts last many years, so invest in one that your pet will enjoy for the long term:

  • A small-sized post may satisfy kittens, but feline tastes change as they mature. Choose a cat scratching post that will work when she becomes an adult, too.
  • Choose a sturdy, solid scratch object that won’t tip over or scoot under the cat’s clawed assault. If it falls over once and scares her, she won’t try to scratch it again.
  • Look for a post taller or longer than the cat’s full-body stretch.

How we chose the best cat scratching posts

As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.

FAQ

Are scratching posts good for cats?

Cats need scratching posts to stay healthy and happy. Without them, they become frustrated, stressed and develop behavioral problems. Scratch objects enrich a cat’s environment and benefit her physical health and emotional well being. She will scratch whether or not there’s a legal outlet. Even cats without claws continue to go through the motions and often develop other behavioral problems if claws are removed.

What does it mean when a cat uses a scratching post?

Cats scratch for several reasons, and when they do, they’re trying to tell you something. They claim ownership of territory using visible clawing and scent marks from their paws. They want their scratch graffiti seen and won’t use posts hidden away in back rooms. Ideal locations include cat lookouts or pathways important to them: near windows, at the top of stairs or by favorite sleeping or eating spots. Homes with more than one cat should have multiple scratching posts to satisfy their urge to own territory.

Clawing also provides aerobic exercise and removes the outer dull layer of the claws to reveal sharp points. An emotional expression, cats use clawing to express pleasure and happiness during play or as a greeting when their owner comes home. They scratch when they feel stressed as well, because it helps relieve the angst. Yelling at cats, spraying them with water or otherwise punishing them when they scratch actually increases their desire to do so.

What scratcher is best for cats?

Felines tell us what they want. Choose one that matches your cat’s preference in terms of the object’s surface, form and location. Often, they want multiple surfaces and shapes.

Ideally, follow the 1+1 rule: one cat scratching post per cat, plus one. That way, kitties won’t argue over who owns which post, and can’t guard it to keep other cats from using it. Also, because cats want scratch marks to be seen, think twice about replacing a tattered, well-scratched post your cat uses. It takes time for cats to break in a favorite post, and they may switch back to the sofa if you replace a beloved clawing post with something new and unfamiliar.

How do you train a cat not to scratch furniture?

  1. Teach kittens from the moment they arrive by providing them with legal scratch objects. Handle their paws daily and clip claws weekly with nail trimmers. That way, even if they slip up, they won’t hurt furniture.
  2. If your cat has already started clawing the wrong place, get a scratch post that duplicates the material the cat likes.
  3. Put the post directly in front of the forbidden furniture—at least temporarily.
  4. Make the cat scratching post irresistible. Spike it with catnip, for example, or drag feathers or a shine laser light on the surface to engage the cat’s claws. Praise her when she scratches the right object.
  5. Meanwhile, make the forbidden furniture unattractive by using an off-putting scent, double-sided tape or protective plastic covers on the upholstery. Learn more about claw deterrents here.
  6. Once she pledges scratch-allegiance to the new post, start moving it five or 10 inches at a time to a more acceptable location.

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Amy Shojai, CABC
Amy Shojai, CABC is the Affiliate Pet Editor at Large for Reader's Digest. She's also an award-winning pet journalist and the author of 35 pet titles. She specializes in translating pet medical jargon and shopping information into information pet parents easily understand. Amy shares animal behavior and care information on her blog, and lives in North Texas with her furry muses.