Saturday, March 15, 2008

Why buy scratching posts when furniture is better?

Dear George,
Coud you advise me how I can dissuade my human from investing her money on scratch posts and balls with bells. Furniture and a length of string, or even a shoe lace, are perfectly adequate. The money could be far better employed on chicken breasts and plaice.

Dear Vincent,
It is one of the most irritating things about humans that they buy us presents they think we ought to like and then are amazed when we don't like them. The scratching posts they buy are almost always too small or, if they are large enough for what I call a full-body scratch, then they are usually too wobbly. There are some quite nice cardboard ones, which are at an angle to the floor but when my human installed one and I used it vigorously, she took it away because she said the cardboard pieces were messy. Apart from these my own preference is for the sisal ones but some cats prefer the carpet covered post. AFter scratching the carpet post for a time they then discover scratching that the real carpet is much more pleasurable. And the humans are surprised! Yet they encouraged this by buying the carpet-covered post in the first place!
Worse still, if we do condescend to use one of the posts, just when it is getting nicely smelly from the pads of our feet with interesting bits falling off it, the humans change it. We like scratching posts with bits of sisal or carpet hanging down. We like to see the results of our scratches! But just when we have run in the post, so to speak, they get rid of it. They throw it out just when it has been scratched to our idea of perfection. What fools they are! Then they are amazed when we refuse to use a new one.
So what can you do about it? Very little, I fear, Vincent. Just never EVER use it. It is always good for humans to have their wills thwarted. It keeps them in training. I never use a new cat bed for at least three months or more. I turn up my nose at any new toy. And I particularly boycott anything expensive which is bought for me. It keeps humans in their place.
So ignore those balls with bells. Why should a cat want a rolling ball with a bell? We are neither dogs nor vicars. Continue to use the furniture for scratching. If there is no string available as a toy, pull out a shoelace or two, preferably while the shoe is on the foot.
Oh yes, have you thought about scratching the wall paper. A wall with strips hanging off it is a lovely sight. It makes a room look like an art installation.


  1. Hum, my human never bought us (me and my late sister, Emmie Sweet Pea) a scratching post. I really prefer a nice big tree. Besides, when I try scratching on the best chair in the den I ALWAYS get the door opened for me to exit. Works like a charm, every time. And if I try scratching the back side of the sofa my human gets that canned air (dust remover for computers) and I hate that because it scares me, so I mostly reframe from scratching any other piece of furniture. Makes my life easier.

  2. I rather purrfur to go outside and scratch on the old post that is there myself, which seems purrfectly acceptable to all. She does however, have the aggravating habit of coming home with toys that she thinks I'll like and then being miffed then she discovers it's not the case. I have noticed though that such toys - like the radio controlled mouse - seem to amuse her for hours, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

  3. Dear George
    Sound advice once again, I would also advocate using the humans for games - as touched on by your shoe lace advice.
    I like to use the dangling cords on jogging bottoms and hooded tops for my amusment - how am I meant to distinguish between strings which are to play with and strings which are not?
    Your friend

  4. The smallest of my cats occasionally uses my legs as a scratching post. More for a big old stretch than for claw sharpening. My partner suggests that he may be mistaking my legs for tree trunks.

    Charming eh.

  5. George, I love your advice. And I'd like to tell you (and all your friends) that I’ve written a scathingly-funny book, The World Is Your Litter Box, which will be out May 6th in the US. The book is cleverly disguised as a cute cat book so humans will buy it, but is, in fact, a how-to manual FOR cats. Check it out on my website,


Help for cats whose humans show behaviour problems.

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