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What’s the Best Material for a Cat Scratching Post? Pro Tips

Sisal is the most common material for a cat scratching post, whether it’s commercially made or with DIY materials. The real choice comes down to whether you want to use sisal fabric or sisal rope.

This article will explain more about the differences between these two materials and how to choose the right one. We also talk about why cats need to scratch and how cat scratching posts can help.

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Why Do Cats Scratch?

Let’s start with why cats scratch in the first place. The need that cats have to scratch is biological. They want to remove the dead outer layer that regularly forms on their claws, and the easiest way to do this is to scratch it out.

Another reason that cats have for scratching is the marking that it allows them to do. They have scent glands in their paws, and scratching allows these to open up so they can mark out parts of their territory.

For most felines, digging their claws into something and pulling back is another way to stretch. It feels good for them, and they enjoy it from head to nail.

The unfortunate side to all of this for a house cat is that the behavior can be destructive. Depending on what your cat decides to focus their scratching behavior, they will end up tearing up furniture, carpet, bedsheets, and more. Enter the cat scratching post.

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Using a Cat Scratching Post

cat scratching post
Image Credit: EbneRol, Shutterstock

Keeping a cat as a pet inside your home is a relatively new idea. A few hundred years ago, no one except the wealthy could afford to keep a pet. Instead, cats might roam the streets and get bits of food from house to house. So, a cat scratching post was likely only invented in the early 1900s.

These posts are what cats should scratch, so owners don’t have to resort to the inhumane act of declawing them to protect their home. Cat owners teach them to appreciate and use the cat post, while making other things, like furniture, unappealing.

These scratching posts are relatively simple and can be made with rope, sisal fabric, and wood. Most posts are typically pieces of wood bound with a sisal material to give your cat something satisfying to scratch.

  • Pro tip: Some people make cat scratching posts with carpet, but this is not recommended because cats can find carpet in other parts of the home. Your cat will learn how good it feels to scratch in it and may resort to scratching the carpet if they have worn out their post or are too lazy to walk over to it.


What Is Sisal?

Sisal is a naturally-derived fiber. It comes from a plant called the Agave sisalana. This specific agave plant is native to southern Mexico but has been widely exported and cultivated in many other areas of the world.

The reason for this global interest is the stiff fiber that is derived from the agave plant. It is used to make rope and other fabrics because it is so durable and long-lasting. When it comes to a cat scratching post, it is the perfect material.

Sisal doesn’t allow the cat to scratch right through it, so it can hold up for months to years at a time. It is also not likely to be found in other parts of the home, so cats aren’t likely to move from the post’s sisal material to a sisal material that they shouldn’t scratch. The rough texture is also satisfying for your kitty.

cat scratching post
Image Credit: Daga_Roszkowska, Pixabay

Beyond what your cat likes, using sisal is an excellent choice as a sustainable material. It is typically all-natural from the agave plant and thus biodegradable. It doesn’t have an intensive creation process either.

The only choice that you have when choosing between cat posts is whether it uses sisal fabric or sisal rope. Your cat is likely to prefer one over the other, and guessing the first time can be challenging.

The Difference Between Sisal Rope and Sisal Fabric

One rule of thumb to remember when selecting a cat scratching post is that cats usually prefer sisal fabric over the rope. They enjoy being able to gain purchase and scratch down farther. The rope doesn’t allow them to move around the scratching post because of its grooves.

Interestingly, cats love texture that they can feel on their paws. Because of this preference, they might hate certain types of litter or refuse to walk on parts of a sidewalk. This plays into the scratching post dilemma as well.

When cats scratch on sisal rope, the fibers of the rope begin to pull apart and stick out from the rest of the woven fibers. These pieces can be sharp ,and a cat might poke themselves multiple times before getting through to the rope.

Conversely, the more that a cat scratches sisal fabric, the softer and smaller the fibers become. They are not thick enough to poke out sharply and instead, start to fray. That makes it more of a comfortable and enjoyable experience for the cat.

Sisal fabric also gives them more of a satisfying feeling when they scratch. Cats also scratch to mark using their scent glands. So, as they move along the post, they leave a visible and scent mark for other cats to notice.

scratching post and kitten
Image Credit: Massimo Cattaneo, Shutterstock

If you are trying out a cat scratching post for the first time or want something new to rekindle your cat’s attention, try a sisal fabric post first. Keep in mind that some cats may enjoy the rope more. It might take some trial and error before you find the purr-fect match.

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Featured Image Credit: Zzzufa, Shutterstock