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How To Get Your Cat To Use A Scratching Post

Scratching posts can be great pieces of furniture for the cat-owning home. If introduced in the right way, they can be havens for your kitties, and can also save your furniture from being shredded by sharp claws.

Scratching: The Cat's Needs Vs. Your Needs

Cats NEED to scratch. Contrary to what you might have heard, they are not sharpening their claws, but rather they are removing a sheath from the claw that encases it as it grows out. This is why you may sometimes find what looks like a claw embedded where a cat likes to scratch. This is the covering of the claw and needs to be removed. Cats remove the front claw sheaths by scratching, and they remove the rear claw sheaths by chewing them off.

But you don’t want kitty scratching up your couch, your drapes, or your favorite chair. The ideal solution is to provide a surface where the cat IS allowed to scratch, and this is where scratching post furniture comes in. Cats enjoy scratching a number of rough surfaces, including carpet, sisal rope, fabrics, and even the edges of corrugated cardboard. Scratching posts come in all of these materials. Because a cat can have a preference, it is a good idea to buy one with multiple scratching surfaces, if you can.

The next trick is to get the cat to USE the scratching post. Many owners buy them and they complain that the cat ignores them. Next time we'll talk about the two important factors to consider in encouraging your cat to use its scratching furniture

How To Get A Cat To Use A Scratching Post


The first is that cats also leave the scent on a surface when scratching, as a form of marking. This is why they may be so attracted to your sofa or favorite chair, because it smells like you, and they want to add their own scent. In that case, it can be a good idea to take an article of your clothing that you have worn (preferably during a workout!) and hang it on the scratching post at cat-scratching level, unwashed. 

(On the other hand, if you have a sofa that perhaps smells like some other animal, that can also be a reason for them to scratch it heavily in an attempt to cover up that other scent, so you might want to deep-clean your furniture in that case.)

The other consideration is to make the scratching post a place that appeals to your cat so that he wants to hang out there. There are several things to think about.

1. Cats like heights

If the scratching post has places he can climb to and look down from, that will be a big bonus for him.

2. Cats enjoy a view

If you place the scratching post near a window, especially one that has bird or squirrel activity in view (a birdfeeder can be a great idea!), your cat is likely to be drawn to it.

3. If your cat is drawn to catnip 

Try rubbing some on the vertical scratching area and on any horizontal platforms as well.

4. Cats often like to hide

A good scratching post will have areas that are at least partially enclosed and many cats will be drawn to these. If your cat is especially secretive, it can help to cover any opening with a flap of fabric, making it an even better hideaway.

5. Toys can be another way of enticing your cat

Many cats can’t resist if you move the toy up the side of a scratching post and onto the top, out of his view, and will feel compelled to race up the side after it. Toys that try to “escape” are often irresistible.

One last important point … if you have multiple cats, make sure your scratching post furniture has enough ledges and perches for all of them, and then some. There may still be bickering over favored spots, but that can be minimized by having plenty of perches and hiding places so that each cat can have his own special place.

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