What kind of scratching post do cats like?

Earlier research found that cats will use scratching posts if they are provided but did not look at the type of posts cats prefer. The new study suggests that both the types of scratching post and the use of positive reinforcement are important ways to prevent cats from scratching your furniture.


The scientists conclude,

“The ideal scratching post to recommend to a cat owner to help prevent inappropriate scratching is one that includes rope as a substrate, is upright vertical, 3 ft or higher, has two or more levels and a base width of between 1 and 3 ft.” 

The internet survey of 4105 cat owners asked people about the kind of scratching posts they provide, which one their cat prefers, and whether or not their cat scratches inappropriately.


The most commonly provided posts were not the same as the kind of posts that were linked to lower levels of inappropriate scratching, suggesting many owners are not providing the right kind of post for their cat.

83% of people provided more than one scratching post, and 89% said their cats used a scratching post at least once a day. Indoor cats were more likely to use a scratching post – but no more likely than cats allowed outdoors to scratch inappropriately.


61% of owners provided a carpet scratching post, 58% provided rope (sisal), 42% cardboard, 15% wood, and 4% other (the numbers do not add up to 100% because many people provided more than one type of post).


Owners said their cats preferred to use a rope scratching post. There was an age difference with older cats (10 years or more) being reported as preferring carpet.


Cats were equally reported to like a simple vertical post and a cat tree with two or more levels. Again there was an age difference, with cats 9 years or younger said to prefer a cat tree with two or more levels, followed by a vertical post; while cats 10 years or older were said to prefer a vertical post more. This may reflect age differences in agility or health.


Just over half of the owners (52%) said their cats scratched inappropriately. Many of these people said a scratching post was provided close to (within 5 foot of) the inappropriate scratching place.