How to Get a Cat to Use a Scratching Post?

Learn how to teach your cat to use a scratching post.

So you’ve just brought home your bundle of furry feline joy and the first thing he does after investigating his new home is to start scratching the corner of your sofa. This is a common complaint among pet parents and not just for those folks with kittens, full-grown cats can be the culprits, too.

In this article, we are going to cover why cats scratch (there are many reasons) and we will reveal some tips and tricks on how to teach a cat to use a scratching post.

Why Do Cats Scratch?

According to VetStreet, a cat will scratch for a number of reasons. These include;

  • Exercise – the action of stretching up is good for their backs and legs and is also a great way to flex their toes.
  • Scent Marking – they have scent glands in their feet that leave behind an olfactory “marker” to other cats that they’ve been in the area.
  • Nail Health – when they scratch it helps remove the old outer sheath of the nail itself.
  • Site Marker – in the wild, scratch marks on a tree are a visual marker to other cats that they’ve entered into another’s territory.

When your cat claws at your furniture it is in part due to its inherent habits; however, it may also be due to the lack of adequate scratching posts, the type of material your cat prefers to scratch on, and also the location of your feline’s scratching affections.

How to Teach a Cat to Use a Scratching Post

For some cats, it may be as simple as bringing the scratching post home and placing it in the desired location. But for others, it can be a bit more of a task. For these “reluctant post scratchers” here are the best tips for getting a cat to use a scratching post:

1. Location, Location, Location

If your feline friend is clawing at a particular piece of furniture, try placing the post in front of or next to the object it is scratching. In the wild, cats will use the tree(s) in the area where they spend most of their time, usually close to a napping or resting spot.

2. Deterrent

One trick some pet parents use to deter their cats from scratching the corner of their furniture is by placing the double-sided tape along its surface. Many felines detest the stickiness the tape provides and will leave it alone. Another trick is to place tinfoil along the corner of the furniture or wall as a temporary deterrent.

3. Variety of Textures

How to Teach a Cat to Use a Scratching Post
Image: / ba11istic

Since scratch posts come in a variety of textures from corrugated cardboard to wood, sisal, and, of course, carpet, it only makes sense that your feline may prefer a different texture to exercise her right to scratch. If your cat is constantly clawing up an object in your home (and ignoring that brand new post) it could be because the surface texture isn’t pleasing to her. Try getting an alternative that is as close to what she is scratching as possible.

Another trick I have personally used is to take the carpet off of the lower part of the scratching post (if it’s multileveled) to expose the bare wood. Most cats love plain wood as it is like scratching a real tree.

4. Catnip

We all know cats love catnip, so to attract your feline to the new scratch post, try sprinkling dry catnip around the base. If you opt for a catnip spray, this can be lightly spritzed around the base and up the post itself.

5. Praise & Reward

Even though cats may not be like dogs (out to please their pet parent at every opportunity) this species will still respond to the praise and reward training method. When you see your feline friend doing what you want her to, encourage and praise her for her good behavior and give her a small treat. This will go a long way in helping your cat identify the action your desire.

6. Show & Tell

If you have a kitten, then show and tell may be the method you are seeking. This works simply by bringing your kitten to the post and running her front paws down the surface of it. She may struggle, but by doing this a few times, she will get the idea. Another method is to use a string and dangle it in front of the post. Your kitten will automatically reach out for it and will inadvertently be scratching in an attempt to capture her “prey.”

Say Goodbye to Torn Up Furniture

Say goodbye to torn-up furniture by following these helpful tips and hints. With a little time, patience, praise and practice your cat will be off your good objects and onto her own scratching post.