Cats scratching your furniture is annoying at best, destructive at worst. But there are various good reasons why they do this. First, as they have scent glands within their paws, it’s a way of marking their territory. Second, it’s beneficial because doing it allows them to stretch out their muscles and flex and strengthen their feet and claws. And third, scratching helps by removing the dead ‘skin’ from their claws.
So while you might want to discourage them from marking your precious leather sofa, it’s still a good idea for them to have something to scratch at. That’s where the best cat scratching pads come in.
Here, we look at 15 of our top picks from the best cat scratching pads out there on the market place.
Best Cats Scratching Pads Buying Guide & FAQ
Of course, every cat is an individual, so we can’t say with certainty which of the products listed above will suit your cat best. But if you’re having difficulty choosing the right scratching pad, or just want to know why kitty insists on ripping the stuffing out of your furniture, then the answers to the questions below may help!
Things to Consider When Buying Cats Scratching Pads
Cats are picky, we all know that! They have definite opinions, likes and dislikes about virtually everything, and of course, that includes cats’ scratching pads.
Cat scratching pads come in all shapes and sizes, and are made from various materials with differing surfaces. You may have to try a variety of different types before you hit on one that becomes her very favorite.
Types available include cardboard, ones that are made from or covered in carpet, sisal ones, upholstered ones, wooden ones and upholstered varieties. You’ll find they can also be angled differently, and again, you’ll have to find one that suits your cat’s preference. If she typically scratches wallpaper or the legs and arms of your sofa, then a vertical one may be the type she likes best. If she scratches at rugs and carpet, then try a horizontal one.
Then there’s the grain along which the cardboard or sisal, for instance, runs. Some like that horizontal, others vertical. And because part of the purpose of this scratching is to stretch out muscles, you’ll probably find that your cat wants one that’s big enough for her to stretch out virtually full length while she’s doing it.
Finally, although cats will scratch and pull at drapes, they’ll usually prefer a fairly solid, sturdy cat post that also stays put while she’s using it.
Once you’ve found a type your cat seems particularly attached to, it’s a good furniture saving idea to buy several similar ones and dot them around the house.
Benefits of Using Cats Scratching Pads
The main benefit to humans is that cat scratching pads divert your cat’s attention away from shredding and destroying your furniture and soft furnishings. Many also double up as a bed too, keeping pet hairs off your own seating places!
For cats, these scratchers allow for harmless claw sharpening that they won’t get into trouble for. Felines of all types love to scratch to keep their claws in good condition; to help stretch out their muscles; and to relieve stress or other extremes of emotion. Providing playthings such as the scratching pads in this article will keep your cat stimulated and her claws in tip-top condition too.
Q: What is a cat scratching pad?
A: A cat scratching pad is a textured mat, post or lounger that has a surface designed to attract your feline and its natural instincts to scratch and play. As well as keeping those urges satisfied, it also helps maintain healthy claws and muscles, and will divert your pet from destroying your own soft furnishings.
Q: Why does my cat scratch?
A: The first point to note is that this isn’t willful behavior designed to punish you (or your furniture!) for not letting your cat have her own way. In fact, it’s a natural urge and one that your cat can’t ignore completely, no matter how good she is in other respects. She’ll scratch when she’s just woken up from a nap, when she is excited about something, when she wishes to mark her territory – or when she just feels in need of a good stretch!
As mentioned in the introduction, this behavior, while annoying, is essential to her health and well-being:
- It helps shed the outer, dead layer of nail (the sheath) to reveal the new, healthy growth underneath, so it’s good for conditioning the claws.
- It also helps stretch out the muscles in the back and shoulder, essential in an animal that can sleep up to 18 hours a day.
- Next, it is a typical behavior exhibited by your pet marking her territory. The signs are twofold; first, there’s the visual cue of scratch marks that warns other cats they’re entering into another cat’s patch. This can deter the chances of a physical battle between two felines. Secondly, tiny scent glands in the paws release pheromones as they press against the surface they’re scratching. From these chemicals, other cats can identify yours.
- Lastly, it provides an emotional release for a cat. Whenever they’re overwhelmed by any kind of emotion – happiness, excitement, anxiety or frustration – they have a tendency to cat scratch to calm themselves down.
So you can see, it’s cruel to try and stop a cat from scratching…all you need to do now is learn how to divert it from your sofa to a more appropriate place, like a large scratching post!
Q: How do I teach my cat to scratch on a scratching pad?
A: If you’ve bought a new scratching tower, scratching pad or other type of object to distract her from the other fabric coverings in your home, how do you encourage her to become familiar with it? What you absolutely should not do is to try and force your cat to scratch in a particular place, by physically holding her by it and trying to drag her claws along it. This is only likely to scare her and make her avoid it in future.
Our top three tips are these:
- You’ll have noticed that many of the scratching pads featured on our list above come with catnip or a catnip scent. This is a plant belonging to the mint family which has a highly attractive smell to cats. You can also buy it separately in packets from your pet store. Using this to scent a new toy will encourage her to explore it.
- You can also improve the likelihood of her using a new post by positioning it close to her favorite sleeping or eating places, or in front of something she usually scratches.
- Try buying a scratching pad that comes with toys attached, or affix ones of your own to dangle from the post. This will help draw her attention.
Obviously over time, the scratching pad will become worn and torn. However, don’t be too hasty to throw it away. She’ll have marked it with her scent as well as her claws, and besides, the more worn it becomes, the more there is for her to get her claws into. So even though it looks tatty, she may still love it all the same. When it’s time to buy a new one, keep both side by side while she gets used to the replacement, then remove the old one if you think it’s a danger to her.
Q: Does nail trimming stop a cat from scratching?
A: As we mentioned above, a cat doesn’t only scratch to keep its claws healthy and short; there are other reasons. So while trimming their nails may reduce some of the urge to rake their claws down your new armchairs, it’s not going to eradicate it entirely!
That’s not to say, though, that there aren’t other good reasons for having your cat’s claws clipped. For one thing, there will be less pain when kitty kneads your legs in preparation for a nap. For her own benefit, it stops the claws growing so long that they snag and get caught in the carpet, which can be painful. And worst of all, there’s a chance that if they have no opportunity to wear the them down with a cat scratching post or similar, claws can grow so long that they curl back around into the pads, which causes open wounds.
And of course, they’ll be less able to make mincemeat of your sofa…
Our Top Pick
The best cat scratching post to our minds is the PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge, which takes top place in our list. It has won the 2015 Eco-Excellence Award and been featured on TV, not surprising as it’s a big favorite with cats everywhere. The unit is an attractive design, not only for cats but to have around the home; and it’s large enough for more than one cat to scratch, play peek a boo or lounge on. It’s even reversible for double the life expectancy!