Best Cat Scratcher

What's the best material for cat scratchers: cardboard, carpet, sisal, or wood?

Cat on scratchers

Loving cat parents like you often ask us about product choices. At Americat Company, we always look at the behavior of cats living in the wild for answers. What cats do naturally can teach us about their innate instincts and preferences.

We can then provide enriching, indoor solutions based on what cats naturally prefer.

So, let’s take a closer look…

In the wild, scratching helps cats:

  • Stretch and exercise
  • Remove the dead outer layer of nail
  • Mark their territory (both visually and with scent)
  • Release energy and anxiety

Scratching benefits cats physically AND emotionally. In other words, cats need to scratch to be healthy.

In the wild, cats scratch trees. What makes trees so appealing to cats? Trees have textured bark that cats can dig their nails into. Trees are also large, durable, and immoveable, allowing cats to really lean in and scratch aggressively!

Indoor cats have the same need to scratch for their physical and emotional health. Therefore, we must provide indoor scratching surfaces. And just like wild cats, indoor cats prefer scratching pads that mimic the texture and durability of trees.

At Americat Company, we set out to create the best cat scratcher. So, we researched the most common cat scratcher materials (cardboard, carpet, sisal, and wood). We evaluated the pros and cons of each. Then, we gave a final grade and ranking to help pick the best scratcher material for your cats. 

Cardboard Cat Scratchers

Cat scratcher pad


+ Tree-like texture (like bark) that cats can dig their nails into
+ Natural, tree-like scent attracts cats
+ Makes satisfying ripping sounds to cats’ delight
+ Affordable
+ Environmentally friendly – often made from recycled cardboard and recyclable after use
+ Catnip can be placed in the holes


- If lightweight, can slide
- May shed

Grade: A

The best cat scratcher material (earning an A) is cardboard! Cats LOVE cardboard. Derived from trees, cats are naturally drawn to cardboard's natural texture and scent.
Cardboard scratchers are affordable AND can be recycled, making these cat scratchers kind to your wallet and to the environment!

However, most cardboard scratchers shed cardboard bits that are annoying and difficult to clean up.

This cardboard scratching pad is much cleaner, since it rarely sheds. Read other cat lovers' reviews about how it doesn't shed cardboard bits!

Also, choose heavy cardboard scratching pads, so they don’t slide when your cats scratch.

The reaction of cat lovers when they first pick up these cat scratchers is “It’s heavy!”. It weighs two pounds, twice as much as a typical scratcher. It is satisfyingly sturdy for cats!

Carpet Cat Scratchers

Carpet cat scratcher


+ Inexpensive


- May train your cat to scratch your actual carpet, defeating the scratchers’ purpose
- Not eco-friendly
- Made with synthetic materials
- Could have unnatural, chemical smells
- Softer carpet is not satisfying when scratched
- Loops on carpet can catch cat claws

Grade: F 

It seems silly to make cat scratchers out of carpet, because, who wants to train their cats to scratch carpeted floors or area rugs? Nobody!

Also, carpeted scratchers may harm your cats if their claws get caught in the loops. And carpet hurts the environment, since it is often made with chemicals and synthetic materials and can’t be recycled.

The only upside is that carpet scratchers are generally inexpensive. However, cardboard cat scratchers are inexpensive too, so you’re better off going with cardboard!

Sisal Cat Scratchers

sisal cat scratcher


+ Sisal fabric is durable
+ Textured
+ Makes satisfying ripping sounds to cats’ delight


- Often secured by staples and screws – could harm cats if eaten or cut their paws
- Sisal rope can catch cat claws
- Hard to find sisal that is made in the USA
- Unravels over time
- Can be expensive

Grade: B

Sisal FABRIC is great for its durability and roughness, but sisal ROPE can unravel over time and is less durable.

Also, cats’ claws can sometimes get caught in both sisal fabric and sisal rope, depending on the type used. If choosing sisal, make sure you don’t see any staples or screws that can harm your cats.

Lastly, it is difficult to find American-made sisal scratchers, and we always prefer Made in the USA cat products to keep our cats safe.

Wood Cat Scratchers


+ Closest material to trees
+ Makes satisfying ripping sounds to cats’ delight
+ Durable


- May train cats to scratch wood furniture, defeating the scratchers’ purpose
- Smooth wood doesn't have the bark-like texture cats love to dig their claws into
- Expensive
- If treated with a stain or sealant, may be toxic
- Not all woods are safe for cats. Several toxic woods are listed here and should be avoided

Grade: C

Wood is the closest material to trees, but we don’t love that a wood scratcher can train your cats to scratch your favorite furniture.

There are also watchouts for using wood. Make sure the scratcher is made from non-toxic wood and treated with a non-toxic stain or sealant.

Final Ranking

After researching the pros and cons of cardboard, carpet, sisal, and wood scratchers, we concluded that cardboard is the best cat scratcher material! Here is the ranking from best to worst:

  1. Cardboard
  2. Sisal 
  3. Wood
  4. Carpet

Recommendation: Americat Company Cat Scratcher

Cat scratching cardboard scratcher

Not all cardboard scratchers are created equally. Americat Company cat scratchers are safer, heavier, more durable, and Made in the USA for a superior cat scratching board.

Safe & Non-Toxic

Americat Company scratchers are made from 2 simple ingredients: corrugated cardboard and vegan, FDA approved, food-safe glue. There are no added chemicals, giving you peace of mind as your cats scratch away.

Heavy & Don't Slide

Just like trees don’t move, your cats don’t want scratching pads that slide! Americat Company cat scratchers are twice as heavy as the average cardboard scratcher. They stay in place on hardwood, tile, and carpet.


You want a cat scratcher that will last for years, not months. Learn more about this heavy-duty cardboard, double-wall construction (not single-wall), and clean edges (not frayed) which makes them more durable than other scratchersSave time and money by choosing these durable cat scratchers by Americat Company. 


The same reasons that Americat Company scratchers are durable for cats also makes them non-shedding. That means less vacuuming and a cleaner home!

Made in the USA

Like all Americat Company products, these cat scratchers are Made in the USA from U.S. materials.

A Word from Lewie

Cat scratching cardboard cat scratcher

I’m Lewie! I was living outside for a long time. Then, my mom heard about me, caught me, and brought me inside. That was the best day of my life!

She gave me food and my very first cat scratcher. Although I was used to scratching trees and never saw one of these pads before, I knew exactly what to do and began scratching. I could tell my mom was VERY happy. I think she worried that a big, outdoor cat like me would hurt her new leather chair. Nope, I’m a good boy and only use my cat scratchers!

Your cats will love Americat Company’s scratchers just like I do. The 4 modern shapes are all tested and approved by yours truly. Order your cat scratchers here.

About Us: Americat Company is where love for cats meets American craftsmanship. Founded in 2016, we are a cat-loving, woman-owned, small business. We make cat products in the USA from safe, durable, U.S. materials. Shop all our made in the USA cat products here.

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