A scratching post offers essential physical and mental health benefits for your cat or kitten. The reaching, stretching, and pulling movements cats perform as they work their claws against scratching posts relieves stress. This activity also helps cats shed old claw sheaths, work incoming claws, and perform the natural act of leaving their scent on the surface through scent glands in their paws.
Scratching posts come in a range of sizes, shapes, materials, and prices. Carpet, sisal rope, and cardboard posts are the most common; corrugated cardboard is usually the least expensive. Start with two scratching posts, if possible, made of different material and shapes. Choose one that allows for vertical stretching and one that allows for horizontal stretching. Then observe your cat's preferences and reactions to the materials, angles, and the shapes to guide your future purchases.
Cat toys help you build a bond with your cat, so set aside time daily to play with your cat and its favorite toys. Choose household items or purchase toys appropriate for cats. Fun household items include:
- Round plastic shower-curtain rings
- Small, lightweight balls, such as Ping-Pong balls or plastic practice golf balls
- Paper bags without handles (for hiding in -- toss a toy in for extra fun)
- Empty cardboard boxes and lids
- Toilet paper and paper towel cardboard tubes
- Crumpled piece of paper for batting around
- Laser pen (move the red light along floors and walls and watch your cat get a great workout as it chases it)
Retail cat toys include balls with bells in them, small stuffed mice, and even rods with toys attached at the end of cords to encourage your cat to jump and swat at it. Some toys include catnip, an herb from the mint family that attracts and stimulates cats. Note: Watch for and remove small parts and decorations that cats can chew off and swallow.
Continued on page 6: First Aid Items