A scratched up sofa, jagged curtains, acupuncture during a morning massage. Sounds familiar, fabCats? Works of art that are created with cats’ claws could shock many connoisseurs of abstract art, but in a fabCat home, it’s the art of claws that is the best decoration and the proof a cat is living there.
As cat Carers, but also cat furniture makers, we often face questions like: “Why does a cat need a scratcher?”, “Is a scratcher necessary?” “Which cat scratcher to choose?”. Today we’re dissecting any doubts and, as a part of our Cat 101, we’re checking why a sturdy cat scratcher is a staple in a cat starter kit.
Why do cats have to scratch?
To start things off, let’s settle one important thing: why do cats scratch? The simple answer would be: it’s their nature. We think, however, it’s good to go deeper into that nature to understand why cats need scratching and find out why a scratcher is a necessary addition to a cat's life and how to choose one that’s 100% suitable for our furry friends.
Why do cats scratch?
- To file their claws. That’s right, fabCats - not to sharpen them, but to file them down. Cats' claws are naturally sharp, ending with a pin-like point and when they grow, the outermost shell gets older and falls off, uncovering a new, fresh, sharp claw. Scratching is the most basic grooming tool for cats, one that’s just as important as cleaning their paws or grooming their fur.
- To stretch. A great advantage of having sharp claws that get caught on everything is the ability to grab a scratcher in such a way that you are able to climb it as high as needed and stretch all the muscles in your body. After a long nap, multiple hours spent on bird-watching, playing or even just to have something to do - stretching is a great exercise for cats and all the scratchers at home make it easier for them to work out. If we look at it this way, scratchers are the best at-home gym - if they don’t have them at home, the hooman furniture must do.
- To communicate. The paw pads are an important source of cat pheromones - scent markers that allow cats to mark their territory and combine their own scent with the one of their hoomans at home. Scent is one of the most important signs of ownership in the cat language, as well as a means to express emotions like relaxation, fear or self confidence. And though we, hoomans, don’t recognise such scents, if we brought a new cat into the house, they would immediately know who’s the boss.
To finish the topic, let’s verify one more myth. Cats don’t scratch to spite their Carers. They’re not capable of thinking about getting revenge for an empty bowl by destroying our furniture or curtains. In reality, they don’t know emotions such as spite and though there are situations where they can act in self defense or attack us when they feel threatened, they definitely won’t act out on your furniture just because the flavor of the food wasn’t right this morning :)
Which scratcher to choose? Variety is the key to success
We already know that cats have to scratch and buying a scratcher is the only way to save the couch. So we make the decision to find a perfect cat scratcher and… we are met with a whole lot of products to choose from. From small, supermarket-quality cardboard scratchers, through high-quality horizontal scratchers made with top-tier corrugated cardboard, all the way to a huge variety of vertical scratchers made with sisal rope, carpet-like or upholstery material - how to choose the right one? No worries, fabCat - we’re here to help you prepare the best starter kit for your cat and make them meow with happiness.
Which scratcher to choose? If we divide them into simple categories, we’ll find scratchers that are horizontal, vertical and diagonal. Horizontal scratchers like LUI, VIGO and TOBI available at myKotty are the perfect solution for a smaller space, but also a shape that works for all cats regardless of their age, size or health conditions. Set up on the floor can be used even by disabled cats who often have troubles with the classic, vertical scratching post.
A horizontal or vertical scratcher? In a perfect scenario - both. Variety is the key to cat happiness, health and well being. Though scratchers theoretically do the same job regardless of the shape they come in, in practice they can help cats work on different body parts. A wild cat would stretch out on both a big tree and a fallen down tree trunk, while a domestic cat chooses a vertical scratching post and a horizontal scratching board which they can later use to lay on and take a nap after an intensive training session.
What is it made out of? Corrugated cardboard is the way that we, here at myKotty, decided to follow for many reasons, but one of the main ones was that cats simply love cardboard. However, as a cat Carer, you will also stumble upon other materials - sisal rope, carpet, upholstery, a softer rope. Each of them has its pros and cons and choosing the right one depends, first and foremost, on your cat’s preferences. It can happen that a cat loves only corrugated cardboard, sisal or carpets and well - if that’s their will, you have to follow it. We stand behind our choice to use corrugated cardboard because it’s what most cats absolutely enjoy.
What to look for when choosing a scratcher for your cat?
Besides the shape and orientation of the scratcher, pay attention to the quality, durability and size of it while you shop for the best option for your cat. The better a scratcher suits your needs and your cats’ requirements and destructive powers, the longer you will be able to enjoy its full functionality.
Example? A scratcher for a kitten might be small, especially if you don’t know yet what they like and dislike. It’s the best time to test out different materials and textures, but keep in mind that when a kitten grows, the scratcher should grow with them. Looking at the matter from the other side, a scratcher for a big cat is not easy to find. Cats like the Maine Coon or Siberian Cats can be huge and from their purrspective it’s necessary to find a scratcher than can fit their whole body and won’t fall over when the cat decides to hang from it. At myKotty, we took all those aspects into consideration and when we designed our scratchers, we made sure they’re purrfect for both the youngest kittens and the gentle giants.
Encourage them to scratch - where to put a cat scratcher?
The delivery guy arrives with your dream scratcher, you put it in place where it looks the best and wait. We wait and wait and the cat’s not interested. What now? Why do some cats turn their whiskers up for new things and are there any ways to encourage them to turn their attention from the couch to a brand new piece of furniture designed just for them? As it turns out, the placement of the scratcher may play a huge part in it.
To make a scratcher meet cats’ requirements, it should be set up:
- in a strategic place, meaning a spot where your cat would want to mark their presence. Those spots include entrance and exit from key rooms (like the living room), important routes inside the house, anywhere where the hoomans spend a lot of their time in, as well as places near the windows that let the cat watch the world outside.
- in an easily accessible place. Don’t hide the scratcher in a corner, in the bedroom or somewhere your cat doesn’t spend a lot of time in. The first rule of a cat gym is for it to be accessible - if one has to look for a scratcher, one finds it much easier to just scratch the couch.
- near a spot the cat already scratches. If the couch is already hurt, why not make it easier for it by placing an interesting scratcher right by its side? This is the best way to turn your cat’s attention away from the couch and if you reward them for every time they step on the scratcher and leave the couch alone, your cat will quickly realize what’s more valuable for them.
Find more tips on where to put the scratcher so it’s always a hit on the myKotty blog:
Aesthetics vs function - choosing a cat scratcher
To wrap things up, let’s talk a bit about the aesthetics of cat scratchers. As Carers, we struggled very much with finding a scratcher that would fit our interiors. With many options being not that visually pleasing, it’s easy to stuff them into a corner of the house and hope that they’re not that visible. Unfortunately, standing there, they wouldn’t be attractive for a cat either and instead of looking for a scratcher in the far end of the bedroom, a cat will just turn to your couch in the living room instead.
What can you do? It’s easy - choose the scratchers which, besides being functional, will also fit your interior design. At myKotty we love minimalism, which is why we opted for 4 universal color schemes: white, black, grey and beige, thinking they would suit every space. By choosing simplicity and classic elegance we knew that the scratcher could stand in the middle of our living room without being an eyesore. And so it does, which is why our couches and chairs can live in peace :)
How is it for you, dear fabCats? What were you looking for while choosing scratchers for your furs? Was finding your favorites time consuming or did the first scratcher you bought turn out to be a jackpot find? We’re waiting for your opinion in the comments - hit us up!