Cats scratch furniture, tree trunks and the occasional person. Animal behaviourists believe cats are communicating with other animals and humans. Cats could also simply be grooming themselves. A manufactured cat tree or homemade scratching post is an ideal way to prevent furniture destruction. There are, however, several alternatives to the carpet often used for these trees. Whether you are purchasing or building a post, be aware of not only any strong dyes present but the 'shred factor' of the material used. Inspect your cat's scratching tree several times a week for loose fibres and other materials that, if ingested, could be harmful to your cat. Replace the fabrics or the tree to prevent hazards.
Tough fabric can be used to cover a cat tree. Many fabric store upholstery sections offer fake leather that withstands puncturing from tiny claws. The leather-like material bounces back after a puncture without making pulls in the fabric which a cat could dislodge and ingest, resulting in sickness or blockages. Another material to consider is fake fur. This is not only soft for the cats, but will endure many years of cat clawing. To ensure it is safe for your cat, purchase only fake fur made with natural dye and make sure the weave or backing is very tight so the 'hairs' do not pull out. Fake fleece can also often be found in fabric stores--a very soft fabric whose tight weave helps reduce pulling and snagging from clawing. Extra thick denim is another option and can take scratching without snagging or pulling.
There are a number of types of rope that can be used to cover a portion of a cat scratching post. Some natural rope fibres such as sisal do not pull when a cat scratches at the twine. All natural and 100 per cent cured sisal is better than green, uncured sisal which breaks down more quickly. When sisal begins to shred, usually after a long period of use, cats may be tempted to eat the fibres which can be very hazardous. Other all-natural ropes such as seagrass or 180 weave, already woven into a mat known as a Tatami mat, are other natural grasses that work well without fraying or snagging. If you are building your own scratching tree, avoid buying the artificial versions of these ropes.
Mixture of Textures
Cats like to feel different surfaces. Covering a cat tree with a mixture of textures will keep your kitty entertained and away from your furniture. Use heavy denim and corrugated cardboard in combination or buy a commercial cat nail sharpening board and attach it to a scratching tree with heavy-duty adhesive. Stapling is a bad idea; cat nails can get hooked on them.
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