Q: I read a book by a cat breeder and pet shop operator who described how to make a scratching post that I have been using with success for nearly 20 years. The author dismissed carpet-covered posts because he felt that the cat could not distinguish between "yes" carpet and "no" carpet and upholstery.
The post is made of rings of cork (fishermen's floats) strung on a dowel and mounted on a wall. The cork rings can be replaced. All my cats love to dig into the cork rings.
Incidentally, the theory has been advanced that scratching is not only a claw exerciser, but is also a form of marking territory. Accordingly, I mount the scratching posts near a door or access window.
I've been told that cork is edible. Is this true?--A.G.
A: Cork is nontoxic, but it is also not digestible. If a pet should ingest a portion of this cork that is larger than the diameter of its intestinal tract, a life-threatening intestinal obstruction may occur that would require expensive emergency surgery to rectify.
Although it's very unusual for cats to ingest large portions of cork, I suggest that you observe your cat when you first present him with the scratching post; watch and see how he uses--or abuses--it to judge its safety.