Cats need to scratch. It’s natural and healthy for them. So, no, your kitty isn’t scratching your couch because they want to bother you. They’re doing it because they need an outlet. This is why scratching posts exist. Keep reading to learn how to get a cat to use a scratching post.
Why Do Cats Need To Scratch?
Your feline friend often scratches surfaces for two reasons: marking their territory or shedding their claws. Marking their territory is natural for them. So, if you get a new piece of furniture, they will scratch it.
On the other hand, shedding their claws is healthy for them. So to help with that process, your cat needs to scratch.
In addition, scratching also stretches specific muscles in the body.
What Are Good Scratching Posts?
If you walk down the cat aisle of your local pet store, you’ll notice shelves of scratching posts and displays of large ones on the floor. Now the question is, which one do you choose?
That’s a trick question. You’ll want to provide multiple scratching posts for your feline friend around the house. The more, the better. Since you need numerous, you might also buy different kinds.
Vertical Or Horizonal
Some scratching posts are tall, and others are horizontal. Most cats prefer to have vertical ones to stretch their bodies tall. However, some cats do enjoy the horizontal ones. Having at least one of each is a good idea to see which one your kitten prefers.
Carpet Or Cardboard
Most scratching posts mimic the same material as a carpet. However, you might notice that some cats also scratch the carpet or rugs in your home. If that’s the case, then this material is a good option.
You already know your cat is comfortable scratching that material. It’ll just be a matter of you teaching them that material is only okay to scratch on the post and not the real carpet.
Other posts are made of cardboard or soft wood that your cat can also dig their claws into.
Cat Climbing Tree
Finally, climbing trees are ideal to have. Some are small, and others are tall. Climbing trees have scratching posts on them and sometimes have a toy attached. There’s usually a nest on top for your cat to rest on, too.
You’ll first need to choose which type of scratching post to provide for your cat. As mentioned before, you’ll want a few options for your cat. They may favor one over the others, but at least they’ll have a variety.
Once you decide which posts to get and buy, strategically place them about the house.
For instance, putting the scratching post in the basement won’t do anything if your cat never goes into the basement.
For example, if your cat favors scratching a certain chair in the living room, place one scratching post in front of the chair.
If your cat prefers scratching in a certain spot on the carpet, put a scratching post on top.
It may not look pretty initially, but once your cat gets used to using the post, you can move them to a more comfortable spot.
How To Get A Cat To Use A Scratching Post
First, you’ll want to show your cat all the scratching posts and where they are. Then, give them a day or two to sniff around the posts and get used to them being where they are.
Cats can get stressed out by a new room layout, so you’ll want to give them time to get used to the new items. Then, you can praise them when they go near the posts if they initially seem too confused.
Once they’re used to the new posts, now the training begins.
Entice Your Cat To Use The Scratching Posts
You’ll need to show your furry friend what the scratching posts are for. You’ll also need to show them that it’s okay for them to scratch. One of the best ways to do that is to interact with the scratching post with your cat.
For instance, play around the post. Take your cat’s favorite toy, such as a wand toy, and lure your cat to the post, encouraging them to stretch up, scratch, and climb it.
Another great way to entice your cat to its scratching post is to use catnip. You can sprinkle catnip around it, or there’s a spray you can buy.
Catnip will not only encourage your cat to go near the scratching post, but it’ll also show them that it belongs to them.
Finally, you can place treats around the scratching post. Try putting a treat or two at the top to encourage your cat to stretch up.
Remove Temptation From Scratching Furniture
As you encourage your cat to use their scratching post, ensure you also show them that the carpet and furniture are no longer an option.
One way to do this is strategically placing the scratching posts around the furniture, so it’s not as easy for your kitty to scratch the chairs or couches.
Alternatively, you can add tin foil or tape to your furniture so it cannot scratch. This option won’t make your living room look pretty, but it’ll only be temporary.
You can also use rosemary spray. This spray is harmless, but cats don’t like the smell of rosemary. So, use catnip spray on the scratching posts and rosemary spray on the furniture. Soon enough, your cat will get the hint.
Reward Your Kitty
Training your feline friend to use a scratching post may be challenging, depending on their age. So, whenever you see them scratching on their posts and not the furniture, give them lots of praise and treats.
Rachel Poli is a content writer and author, but her real job is being a stay-at-home pet mom. Her zoo currently consists of a dog, a cat, two turtles, and two fish tanks. She’s also an avid pet sitter for a few local families, caring for various animals.
After realizing how little information there is for pet sitters on the internet, Rachel decided to start her own animal website. She strives to educate pet parents and pet sitters about the overall care of our furry friends.