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February 2, 2016

Across the country, living spaces are becoming smaller. For this reason, it has become almost a necessity that certain pet accessories such as cat scratchers do “double duty” in the home by providing a place to scratch and possibly snooze as well as being an attractive decorative feature.

Furniture to Scratch

“Today, pet parents no longer have to put up with unattractive cat trees covered with outdated shag carpeting in their living rooms in order to give their cats a functional scratch solution,” said Hannah Rosengarten, research and design manager for Worldwise, Inc. “Our Kathy Ireland Loved Ones collection is designed to be solution-based, fashionable and functional. When creating the Loved Ones cat furniture collection, we took inspiration from popular home décor styles, incorporating rich faux-wood finishes and muted colors, so these pieces blend seamlessly with existing furnishings.”

“Of course these pieces also incorporate functional and fun details for cats,” Rosengarten said. “Multiple scratching surfaces, fun toys and rest spots are a must in any cat furniture, and our Scratch and Climb Tower, Covered Groom & Hide Scratch Perch, and Scratch & Seek Tower incorporate them in clever and practical ways to make these pieces perfect for cats and their families.”

Shelley and Joe DelRocco, owners and designers of Pet Tree Houses based in Florida, label themselves “purveyors of feline fun.” Their trees are topped with branches of silk leaves and have a combination of real bark and sisal scratching zones incorporated into the design. The company recently introduced branches of autumn-colored leaves to their collection so that owners can change out branches to add a seasonal touch to their home environment.

According to DelRocco, the company has been working on new ideas in order to evolve their Trees into “a total life habitat.”

“We are now making them with integrated food and water bowl inserts as well as vertical sisal scratchers, which can be located just about anywhere on the tree, providing another scratching alternative to the real bark,” DelRocco said. “Our ultimate goal is to offer our feline companions a place where they can safely eat, drink, sleep and play while we humans can enjoy the natural beauty that instinctively lures them.”

The company also specializes in custom designs to meet individual cat owner’s needs.

“We recently designed a 12 feet tall tree that balances on a pole and sits in a vase on a nine-inch wide base in order for it to work in the home of its owner,” DelRocco added.

Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp has a line of cat furniture called Vesper V-line also designed to satisfy daily feline activity and scratching needs and meet the aesthetic tastes of cat lovers.

Made of New Zealand pine and other wood veneer finishes, the furniture features varying combinations of cozy cubes, platforms and tunnels, as well as strategically placed scratching areas made from durable seaweed.

Up, Down and Across

According to the 2015-2016 National Pet Owners Survey, published by the American Pet Products Association, the majority of households with cats have two or more. Thus, products for multi-cat households have to meet both vertical and horizontal scratching needs to match the preferences of different felines.

“The most popular horizontal scratchers are simple corrugate scratchers,” Rosengarten said. “A cat who turns up its nose at a flat corrugate scratcher may love a carpeted scratch post or a sisal-covered ramp. That’s why it’s essential for retailers to offer their customers a selection of scratchers that represent a wide range of not only scratching materials but also shapes and angles. Our color-coded Petlinks System helps to educate consumers about the different types of scratchers and why a cat might prefer one type over another.”

Corrugated cardboard replicates bark that cats like to scratch. The popularity of these products is also linked to their relatively low price point, and they can serve multiple purposes in the home. PetFusion’s Jumbo Cat Scratcher Lounge offers multi-tiered scratching surfaces as well as places for cats to sit and relax.

“We call it a playscape,” said Kevin Krueger, head of business development for the company. “And it’s reversible for twice the usage.”

New from the company is the PetFusion Modern Cat Activity Tree, a crossover between a scratching post and a cat condo that offers a 30-inch sisal scratching post along with both a platform and a cubbyhole for cats to hang out in.

“It’s constructed from premium grade furniture materials in neutral colors to blend into most home interiors, and it comes with a catnip stray to attract feline interest,” Krueger said.

Decorative and Functional

Imperial Cat also offers a variety of multi-functional scratching shapes in the Scratch ‘n Shape collections. There are animal designs such as their giant tigers, turtles, iguanas and dogs. For car enthusiasts, there are car shapes. Imperial Cat even offers sports-themed scratchers in different sizes with designs on the edges so that they will fit into any room. Behaviorists say that you can never have too many scratchers in your home.

For cat lovers who really like for their cat scratchers to be decorative features, the FelineYogi scratching mat should have appeal. The mats are made out of the same material used for human yoga mats, and they each come with an add-on toy such as twine ball stuffed with catnip.

“The mats are available in a variety of fun colors such as red, green and purple,” said Paige Hodges, the mat’s creator. “They are very multi-functional in that many cats like to sleep and scratch on them, while in other households they are used as a food mat. I have even had customers take them with them for a vet visit to place on the examination table to make cats feel more secure in a medical environment. And it gives them something to scratch out their anxiety on, too.”

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