British Shorthairs are the least destructive cats I’ve ever encountered, calm and friendly with a placid demeanour. They’re not really prone to scratching up your furniture or fixtures. That said, a decent scratching post is a necessity as it allows your British Shorthairs to keep their claws in good shape and encourages them to stay active.
What Is The Best Size Of Scratching Post For British Shorthair? It should be a minimum of 1.5 x length of your cat (including the tail) tall. Choose one on the larger side as your British Shorthair cat is probably going to get quite big if she hasn’t already. British Shorthairs aren’t vandals but they are fairly brawny, especially the boys. A small, flimsy scratching post is apt to get destroyed in short order.
I’ve tested a lot of cat trees – cheap and expensive and must say that after 2 years and 3 cats I give my vote to Armarkat. These are very strong and large cat trees, so ideal for your British Shorthair. You can get it from Chewy for around $100 (depending on design). What’s cool they are the only company that offers replacement parts. I haven’t tested it yet but it’s good to know that you have a backup.
- Why does your British Shorthair need a scratching post?
- What kind of material should a scratching post be made from?
- What other kinds of play equipment should you provide?
To find out all of this and more, just keep reading. We’ve got you and your British Shorthair covered.
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The itch to scratch: what kind of post you should get your British Shorthair and why?
What size of scratching post should you get for your British Shorthair? One that’s at least half again as tall as your cat is long. Getting a taller scratching post encourages your British Shorthair to stand up and stretch. It’s a good idea to choose a scratching post that’s fairly big around, too. The cat needs to be able to scratch away at her post with some vigour, without knocking it off the base or breaking it.
Materials can vary. There’s nothing wrong with cheap cardboard scratching posts, especially while your cat is still growing. Do be aware, however, that this kind of post will probably be in ruins before too long and you will need to replace it. Fabric-covered posts are okay but tend to be short-lived. Making your own posts is fine as long as you are careful and don’t include anything that could harm your cat if she gets a bit rambunctious.
For a mature cat, you’ll need something fairly solid. Wooden posts with a sisal-rope wrapping are inexpensive and work well. Look for one with a base that’s both solid and scratchable so your cat can hook her claws into a horizontal surface. I prefer the posts with a toy attached; this encourages my cats to attack the post rather than anything else. Some cats don’t immediately get the idea and need a bit of encouragement to use their posts; one of my British Shorthair boys (a sweet old tom but not the sharpest tool in the shed) wouldn’t use the fancy scratching post I’d bought him until I’d literally demonstrated by running my own nails down the sisal rope a few times.
Most cats take to their posts readily enough but you might consider offering different textures to see which seems the most satisfying. Remember that cats use scratching as a way to mark their territory. You can encourage your British Shorthairs to accept their post by placing it in their favourite room, one where they tend to hang out a lot. If any of your cats have previously attacked a piece of furniture, make sure the post gets positioned in front of it so the culprit has something else to scratch on.
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Why are some posts horizontal and some vertical? Which should I get my cat?
I’d recommend getting both. Ideally, you should choose posts that offer differently angled planes for your cat to scratch away at. Some cats prefer to hop up on their hind legs and reach up with their claws for a good old scratch. Others like to stand on all four paws, stick their rear end in the air, and go to town on a scratch-able surface. Giving your cat plenty of different options so she can easily use back and front claws will make her life more pleasant, and discourage her from attacking your carpets or furniture in her quest for exactly the right scratching position.
I like the posts that have a vertical element – usually a sisal-wrapped pole, mounted on a large base that’s also covered with coiled sisal. This gives your cat plenty of room to enjoy a good scratch at whatever angle she prefers. The horizontal element should be big enough that the cat can stand on it while she scratches – they seem to prefer this, and it ensures that all four sets of claws are well taken care of. If your cat’s back claws are on the carpet while her front claws are digging into the rope, she’s apt to forget herself and pull chunks out of your floor without thinking. Give her plenty of room. I have this 57-inch scratcher from Armarkat and it works perfectly.
Why does my British Shorthair need a scratching post anyway? She’s a good girl who never scratches anything.
It’s true that British Shorthair cats are famously non-destructive and laid-back. They’re a real low-maintenance kitty, which is why I recommend them for families and people with busy lives. I would be astonished if I went out to work and came back to find that my British Shorthairs had attacked my furniture, while my Siamese-owning friend has to wrap everything in cardboard at kitty-height or resign herself to living in a graveyard of ruined upholstery and mangled woodwork. Just because your cat is well-behaved, however, doesn’t mean she has no need to scratch.
As well as being a pleasant sensation for the cat, scratching is actually necessary to keep her claws in good condition. As your cat’s claws grow in, the old claw becomes a kind of sheath; it detaches from the fresh, sharp claws underneath and needs to be shed.
Clawing curbs excessive growth and allows the cat to get rid of these old claw sheaths. Cats remove the sheaths from their back paws by hooking the claws into a suitable surface and kicking, while the front claw sheaths are removed by snagging those claws into something and pulling. If your British Shorthair doesn’t scratch her post, her claws may keep growing until they become unwieldy. Your cat will then need them clipped, either by you or her vet. Try to encourage the use of the scratching-post instead; it’s more natural and less unpleasant for your pet.
What other benefits does a scratching post have?
All that luxurious stretching your British Shorthair cat performs isn’t just for sensual enjoyment. It has a very practical purpose. Cats need to stretch in order to keep their joints and muscles in good shape, especially if they’ve been in one position for a while. Stretching also boosts the blood flow around your cat’s body, nourishing her tissues and supporting good circulatory health. The increase in blood flow helps to flush out any toxins that have built up in your cat’s muscles while she was asleep, as well as refreshing her and helping her to feel more alert and perky.
The right scratching post – one that’s tall enough or long enough horizontally to let your cat really stretch up as far as she can, encourages plenty of stretching. This is really good for your cat, especially an older British Shorthair. Their trademark calm and laid-backness can degenerate into sheer laziness as they grow old and they need more stimulation in order to keep fit. A scratching post that’s fun and pleasurable to use will get your cat up on her hind legs and clawing or stretching out along the length of a horizontal post. Even if it only happens a few times a day, this extra activity is really good for your cat.
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My British Shorthair has a scratching post, but she’s still ruining my home! Why is she scratching everything but her post?
If your British Shorthair is acting out like this, you need to intervene as something may be very wrong in her life. Destructive scratching is quite unusual behaviour in this breed. In my experience, it betokens some distress in the animal’s life. I had a wonderfully well-behaved tabby shorthair girl who went on a positive frenzy of scratching the night after her adoptive brother went missing. She never did such a thing before or afterwards. It was simply a way to express the anxiety and upset she couldn’t convey in any other manner. Something may be unsettling your British Shorthair; if you find out what it is and resolve the situation, the destructive scratching should stop.
Is she being bothered by other pets or people in the household? Is she getting enough play and intellectual stimulation? If the scratching occurs while you’re out at work, she may be feeling lonely during the day. British Shorthairs are solid, independent kitties who usually do very well by themselves but if you have a long work day or an erratic schedule this can throw them off. Try to leave and return at the same time each day and spend plenty of time with your cat when you are home. If the cat scratches on waking, make sure that there’s a pleasant, scratchable surface available near her favourite sleeping places. Experiment with providing additional scratching posts made of different materials to satisfy her urge to claw.
Cats sometimes go into clawing mode when they’re excited about something; in the case of the British Shorthair, this is usually either food or the return of their human. Place something she can scratch on near her food bowl and next to the door – that way she can celebrate your return without ruining the fixtures. To find out more about how to prevent destructive scratching, read on.
I tried all those things but my British Shorthair is still attacking my living room. How can I make my cat leave the furniture alone?
Scratching behaviour is strongly triggered by tactile sensations. If you make the surface unpleasant to claw on, you’ll find it easier to decoy your cat away from the curtains and sofa with a more attractive scratching target. Cardboard wrapped in something smooth, like shrink wrap, tape or sticky-backed plastic, isn’t as pleasant to your cat’s paws as thick fabric or wood. They seem to absolutely hate tinfoil as well. It can take a while to retrain your cat so that she attacks her post rather than your chairs – you may have to resign yourself to living with an oven-ready three-piece suite for a few weeks until she gets the idea.
Your British Shorthair is also very sensitive to smell, which you can deploy to your advantage. Fragrances that are perfectly pleasant to humans, such as menthol and citronella, can be quite off-putting for cats. If you can do so without damaging the surface in question, spritzing with the citronella spray used to banish mosquitoes may help. Switching to a more strongly fragranced cleaning product, especially one with lemon, seems to put some cats off. If the surface can’t tolerate direct applications of scented products, protect it with a layer of plastic wrap. Soak cotton-wool balls in something your cat hates – lemon oil, citronella, muscle liniment and vapour-rub are popular choices and tape them here and there on top of the wrap. If all else fails, try getting plastic claw covers for your British Shorthair. You can also try these cat repellants, it seems that a lot of people had good results. These can help prevent problem clawing and have the added effect of making it look as if your Shorthair has a fancy manicure. (The brutal practice of “declawing” cats should only ever be mentioned to be condemned.)
hat other play equipment should I get my British Shorthair?
As far as I am concerned there’s no such thing as too much play equipment, especially for indoor cats. The British Shorthair is notoriously lazy and prone to snoozing the day away, which isn’t ideal for feline health. Coupled with their fondness for food, this inactivity easily leads to an overweight cat. This breed is supposed to be cobby and chunky but if you let your British Shorthair put on too much weight her breathing, heart function, joints and other systems can all suffer.
Giving your cat plenty of opportunity to fool around with scratching posts, cat trees and exciting spaces for exploration can help offset this tendency for sedentary behaviour. Keeping your British Shorthair active is important if you want to avoid some of the health problems they are prone to in later life. I like a large vertical cat habitat that includes scratching surfaces as well as platforms where your cat can perch, snooze or just hang out and watch you.
Another type of toy I find really useful and enjoyable is this fishing-pole teaser. As the name suggests, this is a long rod with a line attached, “baited” with an attractive kitty toy (a mouse, a bundle of feathers, a bell etc). You dangle the bait in front of your cat and encourage her to chase it. I try to let mine snag her claws in it and then tug it away to help with claw conditioning. This type of toy has the added advantage that you can exercise your cat without chasing her all over the house. When you’re not playing with the toy, you can set it up to dangle near her post to encourage her to use it more often. In the next section, we’ll talk about making your own equipment.
Is it a good idea to make my own scratching post?
If you’re handy, there’s nothing wrong with a home-made scratching post, but there are some important safety tips you need to know if you do. Making your own post allows you to tailor the equipment more exactly to your individual cat’s scratching behaviour. It can also save a lot of money, especially if you want to offer your cat plenty of scratching room. The most important thing here is to ensure that you don’t include anything in the construction that could hurt your cat.
Nails and staples should be hammered well in so that there are no sharp points protruding that could injure her. Any rough edges should be carefully sanded down. Remember, cat’s paws are very sensitive and an injury could make your British Shorthair really miserable.
You should also be very careful about any glues, varnishes or other treatments applied to the materials you use. Only choose substances that are pet-safe. Glues and so on can give off some really nasty fumes, even after they’ve dried. These might not just smell bad to your cat and discourage her from using the equipment you’ve painstakingly constructed. They can also affect your cat’s health, possibly quite seriously. A cat that gnaws and chews on pet equipment is especially prone to ingesting traces of toxic varnishes and treatments.
Avoid using cheap chipboard or fibreboard – these can contain toxic glues and resins, with chipboard also being prone to splinter. If you can’t afford to use wood, thick layers of strong corrugated cardboard are fine – just remember that your creation won’t last as long.