Scratching is instinctive and necessary part of being a cat. But while scratching may help to sharpen and clean claws, it's not very good for your curtains, carpet or sofa.
A scratching post is essential if you want to encourage your cat away from your furniture and soft furnishings. You can make a DIY cat scratching post yourself with just a few materials.
Are scratch posts good for cats?
Cats must have a suitable outlet for their impulse to scratch as it's a natural part of cat behaviour. A cat scratching post is essential for their health and wellbeing and one of the most important pieces of cat furniture.
Every cat has claws on its front and back paws. They mainly use their back claws for scratching an itch and climbing, while their front ones help your cat to catch and hold on to their prey. Both sets of claws can also be used as a defence when necessary.
Just like our fingernails, cat claws carry on growing through the life of a cat and need attention. Cats can usually look after their claws by themselves. Outdoor cats use wood fence posts and tree stumps to sharpen their front claws, but indoor cats don't have that option, making having a cat scratching post so much more important.
Where is the best place to put a cat scratching post?
Place your cat's scratching posts in prominent, high-traffic areas in the home. Don't hide it away in a dark corner where they will hardly notice it. Many cats love to hang out with their humans, so put a cat scratching post wherever you spend a lot of time. For instance, put a post in the kitchen where your cat hangs around while you prepare meals. If you have a regular spot on the sofa, put a scratching post nearby so your cat can scratch while they are relaxing with you. Cats typically need to scratch when they wake up, so put a scratching post close to their sleeping area. It's a good idea to have a variety of cat scratching posts, so your cat has a great choice of scratching opportunities.
Once your cat regularly uses the scratching posts, you can teach them that your furniture is off-limits. If you catch them scratching the carpet or sofa, say "no" in a strict term so that your cat understands what he is doing is not good.
How to make a cat scratching post
Making a homemade cat scratching post is a fairly straightforward task. You can make a homemade cat scratching post using plywood or MDF, a square post, rope or carpet. You'll need:
• Plywood or MDF
• A section of 4x4 post
• Staples and a staple gun
• Non-toxic glue
• Sisal rope
• Wood screws
• Stiff carpet
Making the base
Using a table saw, cut the wood to create a base for your DIY cat scratching post. Ideally, choose natural, non-treated wood, so it's safe for your cat. Cut the carpet to size, ensuring there's enough to wrap around the wooden base, stapling it down tightly. Next, you'll need to cut notches for the corners by turning the carpet upside down and putting the base in the centre of the carpet.
Draw a line from each side of the base to the end of the carpet. This will create squares out of the corners. Then draw a straight line three quarters in from the corner of the base that crosses the squares. Cut along the straight line, then cut along the lines you made from the corners.
Cover the base
Next, staple the carpet to one side of the bottom of the base and pull the carpet tight and staple it on the bottom of the opposite side. Do the same on the other two sides, stapling to the edge to create flush corners.
Buy a 10cm by 10cm piece of wood, which will be your post. Put the base upside down (fabric side facing the post) on top of the post. Make sure it is centred and firmly screw the post into the base with wood screws. Flip the base over so it's on the ground with the post on top. It's up to you how long the post is, but it needs to be long enough so your cat can stretch on it. To create a neat post topper, buy a 10cm by 10cm bevelled wood scare and attach it to the post with wood glue. The post carpet needs to be 51cm wide to wrap around the post.
To wrap the carpet around the post, you need to start at one corner and staple the material in place every 2.5cm. Cut off any excess carpet and make sure you are left with a smooth seam. Alternatively, use sisal rope instead of carpet. Cover the post in non-toxic glue, wind the rope around the post tightly from bottom to top and staple it in place. If any staples are sticking up, flatten them down with a hammer.
Your cat will love using your DIY cat scratching post, and by making it yourself, you can ensure it's the right size and shape for both your cat and your home.