“ Brand: Gor Pets / Type: Entertainment „
In theory, this is a great idea. It has two lovely big scratch posts just big enough for a good sized cat to have a nice stretch and sharpens his claws on. It also has two little toy mice and a little fluffy ball dangling down - enough to keep a curious cat fascinated for hours. Lastly, it has a lovely fluffy carpeted ledge for him to laze about and snooze on.
However, since buying one over a year ago, my two year old cat has obstinately never ever looked the road it's on. He is not interested in it at all. Instead of scratching the scratch posts he would rather scratch at my door mat (I'm just thankful it isn't the furniture!). Instead of playing with the toys he will run after and practise his hunting skills on anything else that moves (from fluff to flies). And instead of laying on the comfy ledge, he'd rather lay on my sofa.
So, this is a great idea, but they don't come cheap. And, in reality if you have an independent , rather snooty little cat like I do, you'll be wasting your money.
My seven year old cats, Lilo and Stitch enjoy quite a simple life. Eating, sleeping and looking through the window are their main pleasures, with the occasional mad burst of activity. Like most cats, they enjoy a good scratch and will claw furniture and carpets if they can get away with it, so a scratching post in the house is a must.
For many years I've had a hideous blue scratching post/cat activity centre in the living room, which has been well-used but was something of an eyesore, so recently I decided it was time to replace it. The black and white design of the Gorpets Criss Cross Cat Scratcher caught my eye. It looked reasonably attractive and contemporary and fitted in much better with the décor of my living room than the awful blue one. The cat scratcher is covered in a soft, faux fur material which makes a warm, comfortable surface for the cat to sleep on and for 'kneading', the instinctive behaviour cats exhibit when contented, which is believed to release endorphins and make the cat feel good.
The cat scratcher consists of two scratching posts with a platform on top, from which 3 soft toys (2 cute mice and one ball) are suspended on elastic. My cats love sitting on a raised platform, looking out over the garden. At 60 centimetres high this platform is tall enough to give them a good view and to make them feel secure as they survey their kingdom.
The posts are made from sisal, a rope-like material that is quite sturdy so the cats can really dig their claws in and remove the outer nail sheath, keeping their claws in tip-top condition. This isn't the only reason why cats enjoy scratching their claws though. Hooking their claws into a vertical scratching post means that the cat gets a really good stretch. Stretching is vital to extend the cat's back and shoulder muscles, lubricate the joints and stimulate the circulation. It's easy to see how much my cats enjoy stretching. The posts are tall enough to allow them to stretch out fully, and they do this often. I imagine it must be the cat equivalent of yoga!
The raised platform is wide enough to allow two cats to sit side by side. Unfortunately, this hasn't been possible with my two because Stitch has claimed it as his own and Lilo rarely gets a look-in if he is around. He's quite a long cat and the platform is big enough for him to lie down on it and have a nap, which he does regularly.
The Gorpet cat scratcher is easy to assemble, although we had to improvise because two screws seemed to be missing from the package. Luckily we found some screws that fitted the holes and it is just a question of screwing the posts into the base and upper platform. It didn't take us longer than 10 minutes to do so. I did wonder if the scratcher was impregnated with cat nip because my cats were drawn to it straightaway. Stitch couldn't even wait until it was assembled before he began playing with the attached toys.
Although the scratching post wobbles a little when the cats leap on top of it, it seems to be stable and the slight wobble certainly doesn't bother the cats at all. (If you have a particularly heavy cat, however, it might be more of a problem.) The base is wide enough to keep it upright and although I was worried at first that it would topple over, this hasn't happened yet.
Stitch likes to sit on top and lean over the side to bat the soft, dangling toys. He has fallen off a few times in the process, but this hasn't bothered him at all as he gets straight back on board. Because the soft toys are attached by elastic, rather than just a cotton thread, they have more play-potential and the bounce factor means that the cat's reflexes are put to the test as he plays a version of 'swing ball', batting them back and forth with his paw.
Another of Stitch's favourite games is to sit on the platform, lean over and smack Lilo as she sits underneath. She in turn will reach up and grab his tail when he's looking in the other direction. She has on one occasion managed to grab his tail with such force that she has dragged him off the platform to land with a thud on the floor, where a few seconds of manic cat-wrestling has followed, which is always amusing to watch. The scratching post is great for those sudden bursts of activity on rainy days when the cats don't want to go out and let off steam in the garden.
The toys seem to be well-attached. I did expect Lilo and Stitch to chew through the elastic in no time, but despite some vigorous play, the toys remain secure. Even the felt ears and eyes on the mice remain intact. The elastic does tend to get tangled when Stitch has been playing enthusiastically, so I have had to untie a few knots, but this is just a minor irritation.
At £35.88 I think this is rather an expensive purchase, but Stitch absolutely loves it so we are certainly getting our money's worth. A quick wipe over with a J-cloth keeps it reasonably clean, although I would expect the sisal post to fray and look a bit messy in time. My best tool for cleaning it is an old toothbrush which is excellent for picking up loose hairs and for cleaning around the base of the posts, fluffing up the faux fur in the process. This keeps it looking presentable.
Ideally I would have preferred to have had a small tunnel on the lower platform, as with my previous model. That was always appreciated by my cats when they wanted somewhere to hide away and I think Lilo in particular felt secure knowing she could escape from her boisterous brother.
My cats are adults and they get a lot of activity out of this toy, so I'm sure kittens would appreciate it too. However, if one of the dangly toys whacked a kitten in the face, it might knock it off the platform, so beware that the elastic packs a powerful punch!