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What’s the Best Material for a Cat Scratching Post? Vet-Approved Tips & Tricks

Written by: Ed Malaker

Last Updated on June 21, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

gray shorthair scottish cat scratching

What’s the Best Material for a Cat Scratching Post? Vet-Approved Tips & Tricks


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Scratching posts are wonderful and necessary items that help keep your cat entertained while fulfilling a natural and necessary instinct. Furthermore, having the right scratching post may prevent them from tearing up your home’s furniture and carpet. However, commercial scratching posts can be expensive, and you can usually make them yourself for less money.

If you are considering creating a scratching post for your cat, keep reading for a list of the best materials for it. We also provide tips and tricks to help you get ideal results.

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The 7 Best Materials for a Cat Scratching Post

1. Cardboard

cat using cardboard scratching post
Image Credit: Evgenia Terekhova, Shutterstock

Cardboard is a popular and affordable material choice for cat scratching posts, and it offers several advantages for both cats and their owners. It’s inexpensive, and you can often recycle old boxes for free, and the texture is perfect for scratching. You can easily shape it into many different shapes and sizes to find something that your cat likes, and it’s easy to replace. It’s also environmentally friendly.

The downside is that it wears out quickly, and many people complain that it doesn’t look as nice as some other options.

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to shape
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Wears out quickly
  • Lackluster appearance

2. Sisal Rope

Sisal Rope
Image Credit: Pixabay

Sisal rope is a widely used material for cat scratching posts due to its durability and ability to withstand the constant wear and tear of a cat’s scratching behavior. It can last a long time, even with heavy use, and cats generally find the texture of sisal rope highly appealing. Its texture aids in the natural shedding of the outer sheath of a cat’s claws, keeping them sharp and healthy, and it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to replace if it becomes worn. Sisal comes from the Agave sisalana plant and is environmentally friendly.

The downside is that some cats might prefer the texture of other materials.

  • Durable
  • Easy to replace
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Some cats may prefer other materials

3. Sisal Fabric

BoxCat subscription sisal blanket
Image credit: Courtesy of BoxCat

Sisal fabric is an excellent choice for cat scratching posts, offering many of the same advantages as sisal rope. It’s extremely durable and has a texture that many cats enjoy. It’s also perfect for cats that prefer a horizontal scratching surface instead of a post. Sisal fabric can have patterns that help make it more attractive.

The downside is that it’s more expensive than sisal rope and less easily replaced.

  • Durable
  • Attractive
  • More expensive

4. Hemp

Hemp Rope
Image Credit: kampolz, Shutterstock

Derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, hemp is gaining popularity as an eco-friendly and sustainable material for various products, including cat scratching posts. Hemp fibers are known for their strength and resilience, and a well-made hemp scratching post can withstand the rigors of a cat’s scratching behavior for an extended period. It’s non-toxic and has a texture that many cats enjoy. You can find it in rope or fabric, often with attractive patterns.

The downside is that it is more expensive than the other options.

  • Durable
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Expensive

5. Jute

jute rope
Image Credit”: Piqsels

Jute is a natural fiber that you can find in rope or rug form and makes a perfect material to use for a scratching post. It is highly sustainable and biodegradable yet durable enough to withstand the wear and tear caused by a cat’s scratching behavior. The texture is softer than sisal but rough enough to maintain claw health.

The downside is that it can be more expensive than some other options, and some cats might not like the texture.

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Durable
  • Expensive

6. Carpet

Image Credit: Maliflower73, Shutterstock

Carpet-covered cat scratching posts are popular among cat owners due to their comfort and versatility. It’s comfortable, warm, and durable, with a texture that many cats enjoy. It’s also available in many colors and patterns, helping it look great in any home, and you can often find scraps to help keep costs down.

The downside is that it can trap a large amount of dirt and fur and might not be rough enough to maintain the cat’s claws. It might also confuse your cat into thinking that all carpet is good for scratching.

  • Attractive
  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Traps dirt and fur
  • Might confuse cats

7. Wood

Orange cat screatching wood
Image Credit: Yuliya Gallimore, Shutterstock

Wooden scratching posts are exceptionally sturdy and long-lasting, making them ideal for even the most vigorous scratchers while providing attractive pieces of furniture in your living space. They can come in various designs, including those with multiple levels, platforms, and hiding spots, and many cats enjoy the texture of wood for scratching. Unfortunately, wood scratching posts are often expensive and less environmentally friendly than plant fibers.

  • Attractive
  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Expensive
  • Not that environmentally friendly

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Why Do Cats Scratch?

Scratching helps cats mark their territory by leaving both a visual mark and a scent from the glands in their paws. It also helps them stretch their muscles and keep their bodies limber, making it a form of exercise. Scratching sheds the outer sheath of their claws, keeping them sharp and healthy. Some cats will also visit the scratching post more frequently when feeling stressed, as it can help them relieve tension.

fluffy cat stretching while scratching the tree
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Pro Tips for Choosing the Right Material for a Cat Scratching Post

  • Pay attention to your cat’s scratching habits. If they prefer a specific texture, try to choose a scratching post that matches it.
  • If you’re looking for a long-lasting option, sisal rope or wood may be your best bet. However, be prepared to invest more up front for the materials.
  • If eco-friendliness is important to your family, cardboard or natural fiber materials like sisal, hemp, and jute are more sustainable choices.
  • Consider the long term. While some materials are more affordable initially, they may require more frequent replacement, leading to higher costs.
  • Consider the overall look of the scratching post. It should fit well with your home décor and provide additional features that your cat may enjoy, such as platforms or hiding spots.

Pro Tips for Maintaining Your Cat’s Scratching Post

  • Replace or repair any worn or frayed parts immediately.
  • Depending on the material, you may need to regularly vacuum, brush, or wipe it down to remove dirt, fur, and odor.
  • Put the scratching post in a location where your cat spends most of their time or near their favorite lounging spots to encourage use.
  • Put catnip on the post if they need extra encouragement.
  • Praise and reward your cat with extra petting and treats when they use the scratching post to reinforce good behavior.
  • Take into consideration getting your cat a commercial scratching post, which can be a great option combining different textures, shapes, and heights and looking fab in your home.

cat paw divider


The best materials for a cat scratching post include cardboard, sisal, and hemp. These are inexpensive, durable, and easy to use. Cardboard is a great place to start because you can usually recycle a few old boxes to get it, and you can try out a few post designs to see what your cat likes before committing to a more costly but more durable material.

Trying out different materials to find what your cat likes best will enable you to build a scratching post that your cat uses, but you can help coax them by placing it in their favorite area and putting catnip on it.

Featured Image Credit By: Dizfoto, Shutterstock

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