Cat sleeping on a scratch post

Five Tips for Setting Up the Perfect Scratch Post

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’ve recently built a beautiful scratch post for your cat but she doesn’t even bother to look at it. Is she still scratching the walls, a table, or worse.. your beautiful new couch? Read on to learn five key tips plus a little bonus for finding and placing the perfect scratchable items around house.

It’s a pretty recognisable problem for pet owners the world round: cats using their owners’ furniture to sharpen their nails on. But what if I told you that the way you are picking and setting up your scratch tree is totally wrong, and it is what’s causing your cat to scratch in unwanted places?

Indeed, most people have no idea what their cat wants when it comes to pet furniture. So today I’m about to change that forever by sharing my ultimate tips for setting up the perfect scratch post !

1. Horizontal or vertical scratching

Some cats will only scratch horizontally, while others prefer a vertical surface like walls, posts or trees. Make sure you know your own cat(s) preference before deciding on a solution. Despite your good intentions, a cat that prefers horizontal motions will rarely if ever use a vertical post. Instead, try placing scratching mats all over the house and see if you can discover good spots to use.

2. You need some sturdiness

If there is one key feature found in all quality scratch posts, it is probably a decently sturdy base. Your cat friend can get pretty wild in the playground, using full bodyweight to hang from ledges and pull up. You definitely don’t want the entire structure to tip over and make a big mess! So be sure to pick up an item that stands firmly on the ground.

And if you have a kitten, make sure to plan for the future; she might not have the strength of Arnold Schwarzenegger now, but she will be many times stronger just a few months from now.

Two cats hanging from a cactus-shaped scratching post
This cactus-shaped scratching post is covered in horizontal sisal rope, but many cats actually prefer the strands to run vertical.

3. Choice of materials

  • Sisal rope is the most frequently used material on scratchables. Lots of furniture designed for cats contains horizontally twisted sisal rope. However, many cats actually prefer the wires to run vertical, so that could be a possible reason why your cat is not using your pretty new post!
  • Other cats prefer the feel of cardboard. There are countless variants of cardboard cat items on the market that will make your pet very happy. And if you’re feeling extra ambitious you could even try to make something nice yourself!
  • There are also cats who love to scratch wooden surfaces.

My best advice: experiment! The only way to discover what your cat wants, is by testing new things.


Want to keep reading? Have a look at this article: the best ways to build trust with a shy cat.


4. Pay attention to hotspots

Many people opt to buy one big scratcher and place it in a corner of the room. But from a cat’s perspective, this is actually not a very enticing at all. Instead of walking towards it as if it were an end goal destination, your kitty much prefers to encounter it along the route to somewhere else.

Plus, it is a lot more fun to have multiple items around the house! Make sure there is some variation: there are tree’s, posts, cardboard scratchers, and plenty of other products.

A few more things to keep in mind:

  • Ideally, you want scratchable items to be in places where your cat spends most of her time. In most cases this would be the main living room
  • Also pay extra attention to places where your cat likes to sleep, that way she can claw and have a stretch right after waking up
  • Try placing multiple scratchable items and posts along a walking route
  • Don’t forgot to place something near the doorways; cats love to mark their territory after walking through one
  • If you have multiple pets, try to ensure each of them has their own item made of the material that he or she prefers. This way you can minimise stress
A cat sleeping tightly on a scratching tree
Many scratching trees come with one more multiple soft spots for your cat to sleep on

5. Pick a tree with some extra’s

Nowadays scratch trees can be shipped with many extra features like hideouts, toys hanging from string, ladders, noisy toys and an extra soft padded place to sleep up top. These will go a long way towards encouraging your cat to visit more often. The scratch tree could easily become one of her favourite spots to chill around the house.

Final tips

If your cat is still refusing to scratch the appropriate places despite your best efforts? Consider spraying some catnip on scratchable surfaces. Catnip has an irresistable scent for some cats, and it’s easy enough to pick some up in your local pet store. Don’t have one near? Consider having a quick look on ebay.

PS: If your are unable to find catnip for whatever reason, valerian is an easy to find herb that can also be used to lure cats.

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