Q: Dear Nora,
My cat loves to scratch the sides of the couch, and I have been searching for an alternative for him. The amount of scratch board choices at the pet store are overwhelming. Cardboard, sisal, upright, flat, curved, hanging… how do I know which type of scratcher to choose?
A: Cats have different preferences when it comes to scratching posts, but your cat is already telling you which type he would prefer. If your cat is standing on his hind legs and stretching while scratching, you should invest in a good upright scratcher. Choose one that is tall enough to allow your cat to stretch his whole body. My sister, Pippi, used to dig her claws into the living room rug, so my mom took cues from her and stocked our home with scratching pads that are flat to the ground. Pippi loves them so much that she not only scratches them, she naps on them too!
Different cats prefer different materials too, but the key is to choose a material that is hardy enough for your cat to really sink his nails into, such as sisal or corrugated cardboard. Scratching not only helps your cat to stretch his whole body, but it also help shed the sheaths from his claws (which will help keep his paws nice and healthy). Avoid scratching posts that are covered in carpet; his claws with simply get stuck in the carpet loops and it will be more frustrating than satisfying.
To lure your cat to the new post, put it near the place you’d like him to stop scratching (in your case it’s the couch), and sprinkle it with catnip.