Do Cats Like Horizontal Scratching Posts?

Helene Rogers / Alamy

Q. When I was at the pet store, I saw a scratching post that was horizontal instead of vertical. Do cats like those? I’d try one, but I don’t want to waste my money.

A. Cats do indeed love to scratch horizontally. Some even like to scratch upside down, kicking at the roof of “scratching tunnels” with their hind paws, bunny-style. I would encourage you to try some different kinds of scratchers, and I’m guessing they won’t be a waste of money at all. Instead, they’ll be part of an enriched environment that’s key to keeping indoor cats healthy, active and happy.

And you’ll find many choices that aren’t very expensive at all. Check out “scratching trays” that offer the exposed ends of cardboard packed tightly into a compact unit that will fit almost anywhere in your house. Cardboard is a great scratching surface, fun for a cat to really dig into with those claws.

Feline obesity is a serious and common problem, leading to chronic diseases such as diabetes. Whatever you can do to keep your cat active will help prevent him from packing on the pounds. Looked at this way, additional places to scratch are certainly a good investment in your cat’s health.

What to Look For in a Scratching Post

There are a couple of important things to look for when shopping for a scratching post.

Material with “give” so claws can find a way in deep. Remember homemade cat trees covered with ’70s shag carpet? You can sometimes still find them, and if you can stand the look, that shag is cat-alicious. That’s because the big loops allow a cat to get in deep, dig in those claws and really get a good stretch. For a more modern, neutral look that’s packed with feline appeal, try sisal. This rough, natural rope is perfect for cats, and you can refresh it easily by getting new material at the home-supply store and rewrapping the post yourself. And, yes, cardboard is very appealing to cats and turns up in all kinds of fashion-forward scratching products.

Construction that’s sturdy enough to stand up to playful cats. The first time a scratching post crashes down on your cat is probably the last time he’ll use it. That’s why you need to look for solid construction and a sturdy base. That’s true even with horizontal scratchers, since you don’t want them flipping up — or over — on your cat.

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