When Should I Replace My Cat’s Cardboard Scratcher?

If you’re a cat owner, then you already know how much our whiskered friends love to scratch. It’s a great outlet for cats to meet their needs for exercise, stretching, and territorial marking.

When should I replace my cat’s cardboard scratcher? It should be replaced when it is no longer strong enough for your cat to use. It will vary depending on your cat’s nails, age, durability, and how often it is used.

Cardboard is one of the most widely used materials in making cat scratchers, but its durability is often doubted by cat owners. The longevity of a cardboard scratcher depends on many factors, so keep reading to find out the answer to the question “when you should replace your cat’s cardboard scratcher?”. 

Related: Are Cardboard Cat Scratchers Any Good?

How Long do Cardboard Scratchers Last?

how long do cat scratchers last
It depends on how durable the scratcher is and the length of your cat’s nails.

When it comes to the lifespan of a cardboard scratcher, there are several factors that can help us estimate how long it’ll last. Here are the aspects you should be taking into account:

  • Type – cardboard scratchers are made out of either firm or soft cardboard. The firm type is more durable and resistant to cats’ nails, but you can also find scratching furniture made of soft cardboard on the market. 

You can tell that a scratcher is built using soft cardboard if you can easily bend that cardboard. This type is just as fun for your cat but it wears out quickly, so you’ll need to replace it more often.

  • Number – the number of scratching boards and toys in your home can affect the frequency of replacing your cat’s cardboard scratchers. 

If you provide an adequate number of these items in multiple rooms of the house, your cat won’t be focusing all of their scratching action on a single scratcher. Instead, the damage will be distributed among the different scratchers, so the lifespan of one scratcher is automatically prolonged.

We’ll talk about this more below but as a general guide, for now, around 3 to 5 scratcher cardboards/toys placed along the walking paths of your cat should be enough.

  • Size – The size of the cardboard scratcher can also make a huge difference. As you’d expect, a smaller scratcher gets worn out faster than a bigger one since the area your cat can work with is more limited. With a larger cardboard scratcher, your feline pet will have more spots to scratch on.
  • Reversibility – The reversibility of the cardboard object can extend the period until you need to replace it. If the scratcher is reversible, this means it’s double-sided so you can turn it once one side is worn out. Most cardboard scratchers on the market are reversible.
  • The number of cats – it goes without saying that the number of cats you own is directly proportional to the longevity of the scratcher. A cardboard scratcher wears out faster the more cats are using it.
  • Nails – obviously if you got your cat’s nails clipped, any scratching furniture will last much longer.
  • Type of cat(s) – not all cats scratch with the same intensity. Insecure and anxious cats tend to scratch more, keep in mind the personality of your cat when shopping for a cardboard scratcher.
  • Relationship of the cats – if you’re an owner of multiple cats, you need to be rather mindful of their ongoing relationships. Cats that don’t get along too well will scratch more to mark their territory.
  • Your perspective – finally, your idea of the “worn out” state plays a role. Just because the cardboard scratcher looks used, doesn’t mean it’s not a good scratcher for your cat anymore.

When to Replace Your Cat’s Cardboard Scratcher?

As you can tell by now, there are numerous factors that affect the longevity of a cardboard scratcher, which brings us to the question: when should a cat owner replace their pet’s cardboard scratcher?

Considering the strength of the cardboard only (since the other factors can widely vary from one cat owner to the other), the most durable scratcher can last for up to 6 months with daily use, while the weakest scratcher can only serve your cat for about a month. This means that the average service time of a cardboard cat scratcher is somewhere between 3 and 4 months.

Besides the condition of the cardboard scratcher, other reasons why you may want to replace or add scratchers are :

  • Your cat has stopped using the scratcher
  • Your cat is scratching furniture despite the presence of a functional scratcher

How to Extend the Service Life of a Cardboard Cat Scratcher

There are 3 main ways you can extend the longevity of cardboard cat scratcher:

  • Place scratchers in multiple rooms and spots –  To make a cardboard scratcher last for a longer time, simply provide your cat with additional scratching toys. This means extra scratchers and scratching toys throughout the house, especially along the walking paths of your pet. 

Don’t worry, you don’t need to invest a lot of money to establish a recreational system in every room to keep your feline friends happy. In fact, it’s probably best that way since such systems may not offer the required level of variety for cats’ scratching needs. 

Instead, set up one larger and more complex item in a central area where both you and your cat usually spend plenty of time. This gives you the chance to keep an eye on them while playing and they’ll also have the opportunity to play and spend time near you.

Next, it’s a good idea to get a few smaller cardboard scratchers or other scratching toys and place them strategically around the house. In mid-sized homes with multiple stories, having just one item on each level of the house will work fine for most cats. If you live in a single-story house, then providing 2 or 3 options should be enough to give you decent coverage. 

Finding toys that are actual toys and not just boards or posts can offer extra advantages to this. Interactive cat toys can support the animal’s foraging instincts, which helps with different health and behavioral issues. 

One last thing to consider is adding something as simple as a hanging scratching post. This is an excellent solution to provide a scratching outlet in overlooked spots around the house without having to spend tons of money on an expensive scratcher with a bunch of features. 

By utilizing the above options and making sure that an outlet for scratching is always available for your feline pet, life will get a whole lot easier for them and for you.

  • Store and maintain the scratcher properly – The way you store and maintain the cardboard scratcher can affect how long your cat can use it. Even though cardboard is much more durable than paper, the two still share some similar characteristics. 

Accordingly, you should keep your cardboard cat scratcher in a dry, cool, and well-ventilated place. In other words, you need to avoid getting the scratcher wet to prevent tearing, mold, and moss.

If the scratcher does get wet, you should put it outside under the sun and use a small brush to wipe and clean the surface of the cardboard.

  • Learn how to make a cardboard scratcher yourself – when you can make your own cardboard scratchers, you can control how durable they are and you’ll never have to worry about the cost of replacing them.

The process is very simple, all you need is a piece of firm cardboard, a razor for cutting, a rule, and some glue.

Wrap Up

There you have it, a detailed answer to the question: replacing your cat’s cardboard scratcher.

As we discussed above, there are several factors that could alter the longevity of a cardboard cat scratcher, so there can’t be a single standard answer.