Are Cardboard Cat Scratchers Good?

No matter what we do, we can’t be grateful enough for the person who invented the use of cat scratchers. These innovative products divert your cat’s attention, thereby saving your furniture, carpets, and wooden decor from being aimlessly scratched. 

Are cardboard cat scratchers good? Yes, and cats love them. They love the sound their nails make against the cardboard, plus they are good for the environment. The downside is if your cat has sharp nails, it can tear up the cat post.

With the evolution of this concept, many brands started trying various materials. Some proved to be effective, while others miserably failed to grab the cats’ attention. 

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Today, I’ll evaluate one of the most promising materials — cardboard. Are cardboard cat scratchers good? That’s what you’ll find out in this article. 

First Off, Why Do Cats Like to Scratch? 

To evaluate whether cardboard can satisfy your cats’ needs, you need to first understand the nature of those needs. 

To Mark Their Territories 

I’m pretty sure you’ve pumped into hundreds of feral cats hissing and fighting with each other. This often happens because of the cats’ territorial nature: They like to mark areas where other animals can’t roam inside. 

But it’s not only about the physical markings, though. Cats have small scent glands on their paw pads. Once they contract their paw muscles, these glands spew tiny droplets that are unique to each cat. You may not smell that, but other animals, especially cats, can smell this scent from a distance.

If cats don’t have a chance to mark their territory, they’ll lose the sense of security, which can affect their feeding, sleeping, mating, and overall mode. That’s why you should never prevent your cat from scratching, even if you don’t have any other pet in your household. 

To Sharpen Their Claws

Much like a knife blade, cat claws dull with use. Cats have to regularly exfoliate the dull boundaries of their claws to allow the new ones to surface. 

Technically speaking, you can help your cat with that mission by using a nail clipper. But if you have a touchy cat, you can save yourself the hassle by entrusting a scratcher. If you pick a rough material, it’ll effortlessly abrade the claws to the optimum length and shape. 

To Relax

Have you ever bumped into an ASMR video on Youtube? If you aren’t familiar, these videos contain a bunch of different relaxing sounds, with scratching being the most famous. 

As it turns out, some cats enjoy scratching in a similar way. If the material reacts to scratching in an audibly clear manner, cats will be more likely to use it. 

To Greet You

Scientists are unsure why, but some cats scratch to welcome their owners. This may have to do with the relaxing effect of this behavior. If a cat scratches in your presence, that means that she trusts you enough to do such a relenting behavior. 

Benefits of Using Cardboard Cat Scratchers

do cats like cardboard cat scratch posts
Cats love scratching cardboard, because it feels good and makes great sounds.

After reviewing the science behind scratching, we can discuss how cardboard lives up to cats’ needs. 

Cats Seem to Adore It

Let me ask you this: How many times did your cat jump inside a cardboard box of an item that you just received? I’m pretty sure that happens a lot! 

But why, you might ask? Well, this might have to do with the fact that cats like to curl up in tiny places. However, my cats refuse to do the same with equally-sized plastic boxes.

That leaves us with one answer — cats love the nature of cardboard. Whether they like the smell or texture, they just can’t resist cardboard packages. 

Fun fact: I recently had the chance to house a feral cat temporarily until she gave birth. When the day came, she kept relentlessly pacing around my backyard until I presented a cardboard box. Afterward, she started to chew and scratch it before she gave birth to a lovely litter of four kittens. That might suggest that cardboard has an exclusive soothing effect.

Its Hollow Nature Gives Pleasing Sound

If you take a close look at one of the cardboard scratchers on Amazon, you’ll find that it features multiple corrugated cardboard sheets, stacked next to each other. That arrangement entails the presence of tiny spaces loaded with air. 

As you might already know, the higher air volume amplifies the sounds and adds a pleasing echo note. That’s why cats generally prefer the scratching sound of cardboard. 

If you come to think of it, you’ll realize that no other material can’t provide a similar response. Woven sisal, for instance, has a dense arrangement that’s almost devoid of any air. The same applies to sisal rope, carpet, and wood scratchers.

They’re Good for the Environment

Each year, Americans use more than 90 million tons of paper and paperboard. About 70 million tons end up in landfills, comprising about 25% of their total volume. And with our ever-increasing usage rate, landfill overflowing becomes seriously foreshadowed.

Solution? It’s all about recycling. You can have a say in this issue by buying fully recycled cardboard scratchers. If enough people do it, we can actually make a difference. 

Its Soft Nature Provides a Delicate Massage

Generally speaking, cats prefer to scratch rough materials that can effectively abrade their claws. That’s why they seem to like sisal rope and fabric. However, cats may also need to scratch soft materials. 

Why? Well, this has to do with the behavior of the wild ancestors of our domesticated cats. Since they used to live in diversified habitats, they had the chance to interact with trees with soft bark. They took a liking to these trees because the softer material flowed deeper between the claws, massaging the paws’ muscles and skin — that’s something sisal can’t provide.

Downsides to Using Cardboard

Despite the aforementioned benefits, cardboard has some disadvantages that might make it inappropriate for you. 

It Has Questionable Durability

As the name implies, corrugated cardboard features a corrugated layer of paperboard sandwiched between two flat liners. This design supposedly enhances the durability of cardboard and decreases the likelihood of creases and rips. 

There’s a crucial catch here, though. For that design to live up to its promise, brands have to use strong glue to hold the layers together. However, they can’t use industrial-grade glue since it might expose our cats to the risk of poisoning. That’s why cornstarch is usually used. But despite being relatively safe, cornstarch doesn’t offer enough strength. 

As a result, cardboard scratchers are well-known for having flimsy builds. If you decide to opt for them, keep in mind that you may need to buy replacements every couple of months. If you have more than one cat, cardboard scratchers may not even last for a month. 

It Wreaks Havoc On Your Home  

We established that cardboard scratchers are too flimsy to handle sharp cat claws. But the question is, where do the cardboard bits go after they tear away from the scratcher? Yep, you guessed it; these bits float freely around your home. 

This problem gets incredibly annoying if you have wall-to-wall high-pile carpeting: These bits will lodge deep between your carpet pile. Unless you have a powerful vacuum cleaner, these bits may sit there for God knows how long!

The Bottom Line 

So, are cardboard cat scratchers good? That’s an easy yes! The cardboard has a unique build that gives satisfying scratching sounds that soothes your cat’s nerves. Plus, its soft nature allows it to flow between your cat’s claws and massage the deep muscles. 

But can you solely depend on it? Not really. The soft nature might feel satisfying, but your cat needs a surface that’s hard enough to abrade their claws. Otherwise, you’ll have to clip their claws yourself, which may not always be feasible with all cats. 

That said, you should consider getting two scratchers: cardboard and sisalEven kittens need a scratching post to help keep them entertained.