December 17, 2018 6 min read

The habit of sharpening claws is not a game or for fun. It is the way the cats do their own “manicure” by removing the exfoliated parts of the claws. If your pet has no opportunity to sharpen its claws, it will begin to gnaw at them, which leads to the splitting and breaking the claws and the inflammation of the phalanx. Additionally, some cats mark their territory in such a simple way—they leave their smell and scratches on objects to warn intruders: “Stop. It’s mine!”

It’s not that hard to protect your furniture and wallpaper from sharp cat claws. You just need to buy a scratcher. Training a cat to use a scratcher is no harder than litter training a kitten, but before going to the store, you need to figure out which model to choose and where to install it.

Which Scratcher to Choose

When choosing a cat scratcher, take into account the preferences of your pet. Some cats love to sharpen their claws standing on their hind legs, so they will love vertical posts, wall panels, or whole complexes consisting of shelves and rollers. Other cats stretch their body to its full length, sharpening their claws in a horizontal position. These pets will like floor panels and small houses upholstered with dense fabric. An angular scratching post for cats will suit a lover of spoiling the corners of the apartment. A playful predator will certainly be interested in the model with a mouse on a thread or spring.

The material is also important. Carpet or rope is the most pleasant for a cat to sharpen its claws, but only experience will teach you what your pet likes.

Some scratchers are soaked in a special solution (usually infusion of catnip). These solutions are not only safe for the health of your pet but also important for teaching the cat to use a scratcher.

        Strong chemical smells, unreliable fastenings, or protruding pieces of upholstery or rope indicate a low-quality product. Upholstery should fit closely to the surface.

Where to Install the Scratcher

For the scratcher to be useful, choose a place suitable for installation. After waking up, cats gracefully stretch, flexing their muscles. It is at this very moment that most cats sharpen their claws. Therefore, the recreation area is an ideal place to put a scratcher.

If your cat has chosen a section of wallpaper or a corner of the sofa, it is advisable to put a scratcher near this place but not so close that the cat perceives the upholstery of the sofa as a continuation of the scratcher. As a rule, one scratcher is enough, but if your apartment is large, it is better to purchase several models and place them in different rooms to keep furniture, carpets, and wallpapers safe.

Floor and wall scratchers should be firmly secured to the surface. A cat is unlikely to sharpen its claws on an object that has fallen and scared it. Game complexes must be stable so that the cat cannot knock it over.

How to Train a Cat to Use a Scratcher

Because it is easier to train a kitten than a full-grown animal, do not postpone the purchase of a “furniture lifesaver.” The kittens, taking after their mother, will already sharpen their claws at the age of one month, so the scratcher should be installed before the kitten appears in a new house.

Every time a kitten aims its claws at furniture upholstery or wallpaper, pick it up and carry it to the scratcher. Don’t scold and punish the kitten—it will be frightened and may decide that you don’t want it to sharpen its claws at all (so when you bring it to the scratcher, it will not understand what you want). Just take the kitten to the scratcher and scratch the rough upholstery with its paws, showing the kitty that this place is perfect for its claws. But be careful. Do not pull the kitten by the paws or sink its claws into the upholstery. If you hurt the kitten, you will frighten it away from the scratcher for a long time. If the kitten has scratched the surface at least a couple of times, be sure to praise it, scratch its ear, and pat it on the back.

Grown cats are no less smart than kittens, so it is quite simple to train them to use a scratcher. Do the same thing as in the case of a kitten: take the pet to the scratcher and move its paws along the surface. You may need additional incentives, however. Tease your cat with a toy, leading a mouse or feather along the upholstery. You can also rub the surface with mint leaves or catnip (but not valerian, which acts like a drug for cats, distorting their behavior and dulling their instincts). Cats have a sharp nose, so do not overdo it—a strong smell will most likely scare your pet.

        To train the cat to use the scratcher, you can pat another cat with a rag and then rub the upholstery with it. This method can be effective—the cat, sensing a strange smell, will mark the territory using its claws. However, all owners know that most cats mark their territory in a different way, and urine will certainly ruin the scratcher, so your cat will never want to sharpen its claws again.

How to Make a Cat Scratcher?

A scratcher is easy to make at home. It is not only challenging but also allows you to choose the shape and material that is ideal for your room.

Some Nuances:

  • A low-quality carpet scratcher will quickly become unusable, so it is advisable to purchase mid-range carpeting.
  • Twine used for winding should be made of natural materials (flax, hemp, sisal, or jute rope).
  • It is better to attach the scratcher to the surface with bolts than with nails.
  • Small nails or brackets for fastening the upholstery should be hidden on the back side so that the cat does not hurt itself with the metal parts.
  • Put a few dry mint leaves or catnip under the upholstery. They should be dry, not fresh, because even a small amount of moisture will lead to rotting or molding.

Simple DIY Scratcher for Cats

Cover a piece of board, plywood, or chipboard (about 1 x 0.3 m.) with carpet and fasten it with bolts to the floor or wall. The scratcher can become a piece of decoration in the room if you use a piece of wood in the shape of an animal, bird, or fish instead of a rectangular panel. Use your imagination!

House for Sharpening Claws

Cover two same-sized pieces of chipboard with carpeting and fasten them together with the help of a furniture corner (this will be the roof for the cat to sharpen its claws on). On the inside, the roof can be draped with any fabric. Use chipboard or plywood for the rear wall.

The bottom should be a heavy piece of wood that is also covered with a cloth but with a foam layer underneath so that it will be comfy inside. The floor must be heavy enough that the cat does not flip the house over when it sharpens its claws.

For the front, use a piece plywood with a cut-out entrance or just a low ledge. You don’t need “façade”; this model is quite stable itself.

DIY Vertical Scratching Post for Cats

Gather some twine and a long base cylinder. Such scratchers are rarely homemade because most owners don’t know where to find the base, so let’s reveal a little secret: Carpet is packed on thick cardboard cylinders. When there is no more carpet left, sellers throw these cylinders away, so you can often get one for free (or for chocolate).

After finding your cylinder, everything else is simple. Tightly wrap the cardboard roller with the string. For stability, use a heavy board with a hole cut in the center. Such cable poles can be used to assemble a whole game complex.

Kawaii Meow
Lover of Japanese culture, cats, and self-help hacks. The biggest cat online store.


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