Cats scratch as a form of play, as well as to exercise, to sharpen their claws, to relieve stress, and to mark their territory. If you don’t have a scratcher, your feline will direct this behavior onto a sofa, a bed frame, or even a wall. The Ultimate Scratching Post’s sisal surface and tall, boxy design should satisfy most kitties, but if your cat doesn’t like it, we also have picks for a carpeted post scratcher, a cardboard lounger, and a scratcher that you can mount on a wall or lay on the floor.
Pioneer Pet SmartCat The Ultimate Scratching Post
The best cat scratcher
Its durable woven sisal lasts longer than carpet and is better for your pet than rope. It’s also one of the tallest scratchers we tested, so your cat can stretch out.
Why we love it: Pioneer Pet’s SmartCat The Ultimate Scratching Post is the best-looking, most durable post scratcher of the 16 post models we researched and the five we tested. At 32 inches it’s tall enough for your cat to stretch out comfortably. Its solid-wood base is sturdy, so it says upright even during vigorous scratching or leaping, and its woven-sisal scratching surface is a natural fiber that shreds cleanly (unlike carpet) and won’t become prickly over time (unlike sisal rope, also common among scratchers).
On top of that, woven sisal is extremely durable: We let 20 cats abuse it for a week and a half, and it had no visible marks. Several Wirecutter staffers have owned this scratcher model for years, and Elizabeth Llewellyn, a feline welfare and behavior specialist, writes that she has had hers for over five years. Newer Ultimate Scratching Post converts also report minimal wear and tear: “It’s still going strong one year later with one tiny but determined cat,” said Sasha VanHoven, Wirecutter’s social strategy manager. On Amazon, where it currently has a rating of 4.6 stars (out of five) across more than 7,000 ratings, reviewers praise its durability: “Still going strong five years later,” writes one owner, who may actually have had it for 10.
Unlike with most post scratchers, The Ultimate Scratching Post’s wooden base isn’t covered in scratchable material, but its rectangular post has nearly 900 square inches of woven-sisal scratching surface, more than most other models we tested. At 16 pounds, the post is hefty enough to stay put during vigorous exercise but still easy to move when needed, and it has a wooden platform on the top for your cat to perch on. It’s also the least ugly cat scratcher we tested, by a significant margin, and it doesn’t look out of place with mid-century decor.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: We found a few spots in the woven sisal where the weave missed a loop or two, which a determined cat could loosen or even get their claws caught on. (We recommend spot-checking your post and securing loose threads during setup.)
This is the only scratcher we tested that has a rectangular post, so you’ll need to rotate the scratcher periodically as it wears; traditional posts are tubular, so a cat can scratch them from any angle comfortably. Finally, our test unit of The Ultimate Scratching Post came with hex screws to attach the post to the base, but no Allen wrench, so you’ll need to keep your toolbox handy.
Although woven sisal is an ideal scratching material, not all cats will like it right away. It may look unfamiliar and feel rougher than other surfaces such as your couch cushion. Nicole Kay of the Just Cats store in the Denver area told us you can attract your cat to a scratcher by dusting it with catnip, or scratching your nails against its surface so your pet knows it’s okay to approach. (Just don’t press your cat’s paw pad to a scratcher; this scares some cats.)
Dimensions: 16 by 16 inches (base), 7 by 7 by 32 inches (post); 16 pounds
Source: NY Times – Wirecutter