The Best Cat Scratching Posts, Pads, and Everything In Between · The Wildest

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The Best Cat Scratching Posts, Pads, and Everything in Between

Save your sofa.

by Avery Felman and Elizabeth Laura Nelson | expert review by Dr. John Iovino, DVM
Updated July 1, 2024
Grey cat sitting on on stairs scratching at the cactus shaped Meyou Paris Vegas Scratcher
Courtesy of Meyou Paris

If there’s one thing new cat parents learn pretty quickly, it’s that their sharp-clawed family member has a deep instinctual need to scratch sh*t up. If you don’t indulge this primal need — by way of strategically placed scratching posts and pads, cat trees, towers, and toys — they may decide to sharpen their claws on your couch.

Some cat parents may think that removing scratching posts from your home will help keep their cat's claws safely tucked away. Out of sight, out of mind, right? But this is likely to backfire, causing your cat anxiety and leading to even more destructive behaviors. (And we have to note here: Never, never declaw a cat. Here’s why.)

Providing cat-scratching posts with materials that your cats can dig their claws into satisfies their natural behaviors while saving your furniture from destruction. Durable cat scratcher designs also encourage full body stretching, exercise, and play. A great cat scratcher is a purchase that all parties will appreciate.

Remember: Your cat isn’t trying to destroy your furniture because you forgot to give them a treat last night, or because you went on vacation and left them with a cat-sitter. Scratching is a healthy expression of emotion, from excitement to stress. In addition to trimming their own nails and getting a good stretch in, scratching is also a way for cats to mark their territory, as they release pheromones through their pads. (Trimming your cat’s nails is an important part of their grooming routine, but it won’t save your furniture or curb their need to use their claws.)

We asked veterinarian and Collective member Dr. John Iovino and cat behaviorist Stephen Quandt to weigh in on the best cat scratchers to keep your cat’s claws occupied — and your couch free of claw marks.

Our editors and experts (and their pets) picked these products. They’re always in stock at the time we publish, but there’s a chance they’ll sell out. If you do buy through our links, we may earn a commission. (We’ve got a lot of toys to buy over here, you know?)

Best cat-scratching posts in 2024

Scratching helps cats sharpen their claws, stretch their muscles, and mark their territory. To that end, you'll find a variety of cat scratchers on the market, each designed to suit different cats and and different homes.

Traditional vertical scratchers, often wrapped in sisal rope, provide a sturdy surface for cats to dig their claws into and stretch upward. Horizontal scratchers, typically made of cardboard, offer a flat, textured surface that many cats find irresistible. If you’re looking to save space or add a touch of creativity, wall-mounted scratchers are an excellent option as well, combining functionality with a sleek design. Multi-functional scratchers, such as those integrated into cat trees or furniture, offer the added benefit of climbing and lounging spots, making them a hit in multi-cat households.

“Before picking a scratching surface for your cat — be it a post, pad or ramp — it will be helpful to know if your favorite feline likes to scratch vertically or horizontally, and if they have a texture and/or material preference, as scratching surfaces can come in rope fiber (sisal), carpet, corrugated cardboard, and even wood,” Quandt explains. “You might have a cat who likes a flat carpet pad, or vertical sisal post, or any combination of the above.”

Each type of scratcher comes with pros and cons — but our list has something for every cat, from the energetic kitten to the laid-back senior. Here are a few of our overall favorites:

the square scratcher

Cat scratchers come in all shapes and sizes, but experts agree that height is the most important feature to consider. “The best example of a good cat scratcher would be a tree,” Dr. Iovino says. “It’s tall enough to allow cats to stretch their full bodies. It’s heavy, sturdy, and won’t move while cats forcefully scratch to sharpen their nails and mark their territory. Lastly, it has a rough texture helping to remove the outer portions of the nail to help them sharpen.” —Avery Felman

the sisal brown cat scratcher

If you’ve ever wondered why your cat can’t get enough of your wicker chair or cool woven lampshade, you’ve just encountered a new level of shredding behavior. Although it seems to be a universally beloved texture, “specific materials for cat scratchers will usually depend on a cat’s own preference,” Dr. Iovino suggests. “It seems most cats will gravitate towards carpeting but not the fluffier kind, necessarily.” —AF

the a-frame cat scratcher

Perhaps you have a cat on your hands who just can’t seem to get with the concept of scratching their designated post over your poor piling sofa. Have no fear: Dr. Iovino has a suggestion that could just be the game changer your cat needs to reprogram their internal clock. “It’s been known that cats will scratch after a nap, and so having that scratching post near an area they sleep the most can be helpful to create a good habit of where to scratch,” he says. “Once you feel like you’ve been able to get a cat to use the scratching post frequently, then you can slowly start to move it around to a more desired area if needed.” —Elizabeth Laura Nelson

Sisal scratching posts 

What’s the best material for a cat-scratching post? Many people (I mean, cats) prefer sisal. It’s incredibly durable, which means it can withstand repeated scratching without fraying or wearing out quickly. And its coarse texture provides an ideal surface for cats to sharpen their claws, satisfying their natural instincts and preventing damage to your furniture.

Carpet cat-scratching posts 

Carpet makes an excellent material for these posts as well. Its soft, fibrous texture closely mimics the feel of natural surfaces, making it highly appealing to cats. Additionally, carpeted scratch posts provide a comfortable, cozy surface for cats to rest on, so they can double as both a scratching spot and a lounging place.

Wood cat-scratching posts 

Cats love climbing trees (or at least, most indoor cats would love it if they were allowed to). So, why not give them the next best thing — a wooden scratch post? “Cats scratch trees because it feels good,” Quandt says. “Bark allows their nails to sink in, and then they drag and pull and this stretches their tendons and muscles, which is good for them.”

Wood is also naturally sturdy and provides a stable, satisfying scratching surface. Plus, its longevity ensures that the scratch post can endure heavy use without deteriorating, offering a lasting solution for your cat’s scratching needs.

Mau Uni wooden cat tree

This wooden cat scratcher doesn’t just look like a sturdy tree branch — it is one. Made from a real tree, it’s topped with a wicker basket and a super-soft, fuzzy, faux-fur cushion. It comes with a hanging pom-pom for your cat to bat around, a second spot to perch, and a sisal-wrapped section perfect for sinking claws into. All the parts are replaceable, as well, so it’ll last for years. This cat tree makes me feel a little less guilty about keeping my cats indoors, staring out at the trees. —ELN

Vertical cat scratching posts

A tall vertical post may be the best cat scratching solution for large cats. It allows them to fully stretch their bodies, promoting healthy muscle tone and flexibility. Additionally, the height of the post can help satisfy a cat’s instinct to climb and perch, providing both physical exercise and mental stimulation. Try one of these for your favorite adventurous kitty.

PAWZ Road Cat Tree

This sturdy cat tree has a variety of built-in scratching surfaces, but that’s just one reason Quandt recommends it. Beyond the multiple scratching opportunities, it’s sturdy: A pressure plate presses into your ceiling to keep it in place, so cats can’t knock it over. (The mechanics of this are similar to a tension rod that holds up a curtain.) “It’s low-profile, lightweight, and not bulking like many trees are,” Quandt says. —ELN

Tuft + Paw Frond Cat Tree

This vertical cat scratching post features three spots to perch, sisal-wrapped sections for scratching, and is adjustable — so you can make it work for your particular cat. Some customers said it didn't work for their bigger cats, and others said it was a little wobbly, but many people (and their cats!) are big fans.

“This goes so well in our living room, and my cat has never loved scratching something so much,” one reviewer wrote. The Tuft + Paw customer service team is responsive, and will reach out with tips or offer a refund within 30 days if it doesn’t turn out to be a fit for your cat. —ELN

Horizontal cat scratching posts

A horizontal scratch post offers a spacious, sturdy surface for cats to scratch and lounge, and can accommodate cats of all sizes. Because it’s horizontal, cats get to engage in natural scratching behaviors while also resting and playing.

ModKat Cat Scratcher Lounge Set

This cardboard scratcher set isn’t a post, but rather two stylish-looking loungers that your cat can use in multiple ways. While they’re made of cardboard, they’re not flimsy; they’re made of high-density cardboard (and non-toxic glue, naturally) that will hold up to a good amount of clawing. Sprinkle them with catnip to encourage your cat to play, and flip them over when one side gets worn out.

“These are terrific. My adult cats vie to sit on the contoured surface, and my foster kittens crawl through over and around the tunnels,” one reviewer wrote, adding that they’re sturdy and long-lasting, with plenty of spots to scratch. —ELN

Frisco Step-In Cat Scratcher Toy with Catnip

If there’s one thing cats love, it’s a box. How many times have you unpacked your latest shipment of food or litter only to find your cat curled up in the box before you can flatten it for recycling?

This horizontal scratcher functions as both a spot to sit and a place to exercise their claws — and chances are good that it costs less than a case of canned food. It comes in an array of fun patterns, from daisies to constellations, and gets great customer reviews. –ELN

Durable and stable scratching posts

Unless you plan to frequently replace your cat-scratch post, you’ll want one that can withstand plenty of scratching. That’s where durability comes in. It’s wise to get the best quality cat scratching post you can find.

Stability, too, is important, as it prevents the scratcher from tipping over or wobbling, which can discourage your cat from using it and lead them to target the arm of your sofa, or another equally undesirable spot.

Budget-friendly cat scratching post choices 

Of course, budget is a consideration too. You can spend hundreds of dollars on a cat scratching post if you want to — but it’s certainly not necessary. Your cat won’t care about the price tag, anyway. Here are some of our favorite wallet-friendly choices:

PETMAKER Cat Scratching Post with Hammock

This is the scratcher-hammock combo I got for my cat when she first came home from the shelter. She loved it for years, and when we added two more little guys to our cat family, I got another one just like it.

It’s a favorite napping spot, and also has two sisal poles to scratch, as well as a dangling ball to bat around (and eventually tear off, if your cat is anything like mine). It’s on the smaller side, so an adult cat may use it less as a scratcher and more as a bed, but it's affordable and cute. —ELN

Stylish cat scratching posts 

If you’ve got to have a cat scratching post in your home, you might as well make it a cute cat scratching post. That’s where these stylish choices come in. Which one suits your style the best?

the black cat scratcher

Sometimes, we’re lucky enough to encounter a pet product that our cats gravitate towards and isn’t a total eyesore. Meyou Paris’s cactus shaped scratching post is one such item. Made of woven rope, this desert-inspired vertical scratcher is the perfect way to accessorize your home and engage your cat’s clawing instincts.

Plus, its scratching surface can be easily replaced by placing a fresh Vegas attachment over its steel base. It’s sustainable, aesthetically pleasing, and as functional as they come. Hey, when it works, it works. —ELN

DIY cat scratching posts

Prefer to DIY? If you’re interested in carpentry, Dr. Iovino suggests turning this into a building opportunity. “Using a heavy, wood base that is then covered in your cat’s preferred material can be easy to put together for an appropriate scratcher.

From there, the complexity, and creativity would depend on each situation.” We’re more likely to opt for the less involved alternative, but it’s certainly an option.

FAQs (People also ask):

What is the best tall cat scratching post?

If you're looking for a tall cat scratching post, you'll find some options above. Tall cat scratch posts are available in a variety of materials and styles. Think you don’t need a tall scratch post? Think again. “If you’re adopting a kitten, don’t get a kitten-sized post, as they will quickly outgrow it,” Quandt says.

What is the best rope for a cat scratching post?

Sisal rope is highly durable and provides a coarse texture that cats find satisfying to scratch. This helps keep their claws healthy and sharp. Sisal rope is also natural and non-toxic, making it a safe and eco-friendly option for cats (and their owners).

What kind of scratching post is best for cats?

There’s no one right answer to this question, but Quandt urges cat parents to look for two qualities in particular: height and stability. “Height allows your cat to really stretch their muscles and tendons — this is one of the reasons why your cats scratch in the first place. Stability is needed because if your cat is able to knock down or pull the post over on its side, they likely won’t return to it.”

Do cats prefer sisal or jute?

“Every cat is different,” Quandt says. “The best way to figure out which type of material your cat prefers is through trial and error. Buy a few budget-friendly options and see what your cat goes for!”

Avery, editor at The Wildest, and her cat, Chicken

Avery Felman

Avery is a writer and producer. She has written for numerous publications, including Refinery29, BuzzFeed, and V Magazine. When she’s not at her computer, you can find her reading, practicing her Greek on Duolingo, and delving into the Sex and the City discourse. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and their cat, Chicken, who rules with an iron fist.

Writer Elizabeth Nelson with her cat, Freddy

Elizabeth Laura Nelson

Elizabeth Laura Nelson is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, New York. As a child, Elizabeth was scared of cats (claws and teeth, yikes) but she has since gotten over her fear and now shares her home with three sweet and gentle feline companions who make life better (and cuddlier) every day.