Are you planning to adopt a kitten soon? That’s a decision that you’ll be forever grateful for! However, taking care of kittens has its fair share of challenges. Unlike puppies, most kittens remain timid around new environments for a long time. So what can you do to make your kitten feel at home?
Get a scratching post, but are scratching posts good for kittens? Yes! they are because they help relieve stress, provide exercise and fun, help conform their genes and many other benefits every pet owner should know about.
Every pet owner will want to know which type of cat furniture is safe for your small kittens. Well let’s take a closer look at why kittens love scratching posts.
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The Benefits of Scratching Posts for Kittens
Here’s a detailed rundown of why your kitten needs a scratching post.
- They Provide Endless Fun and Exercise
The most adorable thing about kittens is that they don’t seem to get enough of playtime. After they ease into your home, they’ll start hopping onto everything to feed their voracious curiosity and endless energy.
As cute as this looks, it stops being fun when your cat becomes strong enough to knock your fragile antiques off shelves. In fact, many owners end up landing their kittens into a shelter after a couple of months of uncontrolled, mischievous behavior.
That’s where scratching posts come in handy. Thanks to their rugged construction, these posts can withstand your cat’s sharp claws and jerky movements, which spares your valuable furniture.
Pro tip: To fully make use of this benefit, try to get a scratching post with enough height to allow your kitten to fully stretch his body. The SmartCat’s 32-inch Post is one of my favorites in this category.
- They Conform With Their Genes
Cats don’t scratch just for fun; historical findings revealed that this behavior is an age-old habit that traces back to the earliest cat species.
Thousands of years ago, cats’ ancestors used to live in dense rain forests. They preferred these habitats because they could climb trees to have a birds-eye view over their prey.
But of course, these habitats were swarming with other vicious hunters. To prevent unnecessary clashes, cats used their claws to imprint marks on trees to outline their territories. Plus, scratching activated the tiny scent glands in their paw pads, which intensified the territorial markings even more.
Is That Important for Today’s Cats?
If early cats practiced this behavior to fend off predators, does this mean that our domesticated cats won’t need it? No. This behavior is already hardwired into your cat’s genes, even if he has never been to the wilderness.
If your cat doesn’t get a chance to safely vent these internal instincts, he’ll be more likely to develop destructive behavior. And naturally, this likelihood increases with the hyperactive kittens.
Additionally, when your kitten releases his scent on a scratching post, he’ll feel safe inside your home much faster than usual.
- They Maintain Healthy Claws
Just like human nails, cat claws are continually growing. With enough playtime, the outer layers of your kitten’s claws will dull and lose a significant part of their value — dull claws will hinder climbing, jumping, and even walking.
Technically, you can trim your kitten’s claws yourself. However, I don’t really recommend that. Why? Well, cats’ claws originate from the toe bones. If you’re not careful, you might extend your cut onto the living tissue, which will cause bleeding and sharp pain.
Lucky for us, a rough, sisal-covered scratching post can take care of this task. Vigorous scratching will peel off the dead layers, honing the claws back to their sharpest form. And because the new layers can’t be scaled off, there’s no risk of bleeding or pain.
- They Can Resolve Cat Conflicts
Do you already have cats? Brace yourself! Bringing a new feline member won’t be easy!
Owing to their strong territorial nature, cats usually turn hostile toward foreign felines, including the cute, virtually-harmless kittens. If you’re not careful, your adult cats can bully the new kitten, leaving physical and psychological trauma.
A scratching post can quickly resolve these conflicts. Since cats scratch to relieve their stress, they tend to be fairly peaceful around the post. You can think of a scratching post as a middle ground where your cats can enjoy a temporary truce.
You can purchase a small scratching post or larger cat tree that your kitten will grow into and have a safe haven they can retreat to when they want to be alone.
Bonus: How to Encourage Your Kitten to Use the Scratching Post
If you don’t get a scratching post soon enough, your kitten may take a liking to your valuable furniture. Don’t worry, though; it’s not too late to develop positive scratching habits. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.
Location Is Key
What do you do before getting out of bed? You probably stretch your arms, torso, and shoulders, right? That’s how your feline friend starts his morning too!
To guarantee prompt use, place the scratching post next to your kitten’s bed. This way, he’ll use it to stretch his body every single day.
There’s an important consideration here, though. As you may already know, cats like to develop habits. That’s why you shouldn’t relocate the post to new spots. Otherwise, your kitten might get tempted to scratch your precious furniture.
Don’t Tell Your Kitten Off
I know how depressing it feels to find your kitten ruining every corner of your home; I’ve been there countless times! But losing your temper is never the answer.
Think about it. Your cats scratch to follow their inner instincts. When you scold them, you’re only confusing them. In extreme cases, you may permanently lose their trust.
So What Should You Do?
Calmly remove your kitten off of your furniture, curtains, upholstery, etc. Then, place them close to the scratching post. If you do it early enough, your kitten will still have some scratching to do at the post. After he finishes, flood him with lots of love and treats. With time, the positive reinforcement will coax your kitten into using the scratching post regularly.
Vary the Materials
Scratching posts may feature lots of different materials — with the two most common being sisal and cardboard. Cardboard cat scratchers can be a great thing for your feline friend.
Sisal scratching posts excel in terms of roughness and durability. Their unique texture closely imitates the tree bark that early cats used to scratch.
Although cardboard is softer, some cats still like it because it provides a deep massage to their toe muscles. However, most cat owners don’t prefer it because it shreds into tiny pieces that can spread all around your home.
You can’t really expect which one your kitten will like. That’s why I always recommend getting both.
Make Sure The Scratching Post Is Secure Enough
If all the previous efforts went in vain, inspect your scratching post. If your kitten can easily topple it over, his survival instincts will discourage him from using it because it may compromise his well-being. To avoid this, get a scratching post that has a broad, well-supported base.
Upgrade With a Full Tree
If you have enough space, consider getting an elaborate cat tree that features multiple scratching posts.
Getting a model with multiple platforms will encourage your kitten to spend even more time on the tree. Having cat condos and dangling toys will also make the overall process more fun and inviting.
To Sum Up
Yes, scratching posts are good for kittens. For one, these posts act like tiny gyms for your kitten to exercise and stretch his body. And just like humans, this exercise leaves your cat feeling happy and relaxed.
Remember, scratching posts usually come with sisal ropes or cardboard sheets. The former provides enough roughness to satisfy your kitten and abrade his claws, yet the latter gives deep massages to the muscles of that area.