All kittens love to get their claws out – it’s a fact of life that your fur-baby has a primal instinct to shred sensitive areas such as soft furniture, carpet, and, often, even you. If you’ve ever experienced your furry friend putting its paws in the wrong places, you’ve probably wondered if there’s a better way.  

There is, of course, and we’re forever indebted to whoever first invented the modern cat scratching post, an item that’s a sure-thing for keeping a happy cat. But before you rush to find the perfect post for your pet, it’s worth considering your cat’s stage of development and understanding which product is most suitable for a kitten.

Things to consider when buying a cat scratching post for a kitten

Here are some pointers that’ll help you accommodate your kitty’s quirks:

  • Kittens are learning and adapting to a new environment (your home) and finding their favourite places. Finding a quiet, cool, spot in the house where your kitten feels comfortable – and where a scratching post will best fit – can help keep your kitten engaged and away from furniture when it feels the need to scratch
  • Kittens are curious and often like to hide and explore small, enclosed areas – you might want to consider a post with sleeping platforms and a bed cube
  • Kittens are agile and like to climb and look out from up high – a multi-level design with perches on which your cat can sit on might work best
  • Kittens are playful and need stimulation as well as a place to vent their feline frustrations, so you may want a scratching post with hanging balls and toys
  • Although kittens are smaller than adult cats and may only need a shorter post for now, it might be worth planning for the future and purchasing a taller post
  • Do certain colours attract your cat? My kitten particularly loves her green shopping bag, and can’t get enough of being on top of it, inside of it, and chomping into it
  • Cats are territorial creatures, and many cat owners find it necessary to have multiple cat posts for this reason

Assessing the quality of a cat post

While the quality of this cat post is undeniable, it is important to make sure the post is stable and doesn’t move sway when the cat climbs or claws it. Kittens are often cautious and will be hesitant to engage with things that they don’t feel safe around. Make sure a scratching post or tree has a wide, stable base that will hold the weight of your kitten.

What are cat scratching posts made of? Generally, a wooden frame, and a post made of either wood or cardboard covered with rope or sisal fabric (a resilient fabric that feels good for cats when scratching) for the scratching area and plush fabric for other areas.

What does the evidence tell us?

An Italian study on the scratching behaviour of cats found that:

“Newborn kittens are not able to withdraw their claws correctly until about 4 weeks after birth, so they start to scratch correctly at 5 weeks of age”

“When a scratching post was present in the environment, the cats tended to use it, reducing scratching on other surfaces.”

A separate study compiled owner observations regarding cat scratching behaviour and concluded:

“Scratching may be expressed more frequently in young animals in correlation with increased exploratory behaviour and play.”

Cats under 9 years old preferred cat trees with one or more levels followed by simple upright vertical posts.

“The ideal scratching post to recommend to a cat owner to help prevent inappropriate scratching is one that includes rope as a substrate, is upright vertical, 3 ft (91cm) or higher, has two or more levels and a base width of between 1 and 3 ft (30cm and 91cm).”

76% of cats under 9 years old most often preferred cat trees with two or more levels followed by simple vertical posts (69%), simple horizontal on the floor (49.5%), on the floor at an angle (24.0%), and hung or mounted on the wall (5.8%).

It seems reasonable to conclude based on the evidence that younger cats will be more active and require more stimulation. The Rolls-Royce of cat catharsis is not necessarily the place to park your frustrated feline, but they do tend to prefer cat trees with more levels.

Conclusion: which post is best for your kitten?

It’s clear that a cat scratching post is more than just a place for a kitten to stretch its mittens, and there are a number of factors to consider when turning your home into the purrfect playground for your baby cat.

Ultimately, the best cat scratching post will be the one that is well-built, provides the right kind of stimulation for your cat’s age, and it’s also worth considering your kitten’s individual needs and environment when deciding what type of post is most suitable.

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