How to Get Your Cat to Use the Scratching Post


One of the most common problems cat owners complain about is the cat scratching the furniture or other inappropriate places, rather than the scratching post. What can you do to encourage your cat to limit her scratching to the post? There are lots of suggestions out there, but the very best can be found in a book called The Natural Cat by Anitra Frazier. Here are some great common sense tips to get your cat to use the post.


Make sure your scratching post is made of the right materials

Take a look around your local pet store. The majority of the posts are covered with soft carpet, with maybe a tiny bit of rough material like sisal. In nature, cats like to scratch on very rough surfaces like tree bark. Bringing a carpet-covered post into the home is practically an invitation for your cat to scratch your oriental rug, not to mention the living room sofa.


Make sure the scratching post you choose is completely covered with rough rope or sisal. Get a strong, sturdy scratching post that’s tall enough for your cat to stretch up on, and preferably one with a platform or perch on the top.


Embrace the power of catnip

Plant some catnip in the garden, or buy dried catnip, and rub it over the post. Sounds simple, but for the majority of cats, a little nip is a powerful attractor and will draw your cat to the post. Use it sparingly, as cats can become tolerant of its effects.


Add some fun and excitement to the post

If your cat is like most, she can’t resist checking out a bag full of groceries when you come home from shopping, or helping to unwrap presents on Christmas morning. Take advantage of your cat’s natural curiosity by wrapping up a new scratching post you bring home from the store. Cover the post with a big brown bag or wrap it with tissue or paper (don’t forget the catnip first).


Lay it on the floor and walk away. Your cat will begin to investigate the package and try to open it up. Leave it alone for a day and let your cat continue to check this new thing out. Then go ahead and open it up with your cat and engage in some play around the post. Scratch it yourself so your cat can hear the sound of it. Avoid grabbing the front paws and making her scratch it, cats don’t like that.


Find the right spot for the scratching post

Place the post in a corner so it’s stable and won’t slide around when your cat begins to scratch. It also helps to put it near an item of furniture that your cat likes to scratch. Your cat will choose a rough post over a soft chair. If you have a timid cat, consider laying the post on its side. Some cats might not like a tall, new object and will feel more secure if the post is flat.


Make the post the focus of playtime

If you want your cat to associate the scratching post with good, positive things, make sure the post takes center stage during play sessions. Visit the post with your cat when you come home from work, and around feeding time. Take advantage of your cat’s happiness at these times by going to the post and giving it a scratch yourself before petting her. Then pet your cat when she investigates the post. Cats love routines, so they will come to expect a session at the post if you do it every day.


Photo credits:  Top:  003 by Jennifer C.; 2nd from top:  Day 28: Rope by Keith McDuffee; 2nd from bottom:  Blaise and the scratching post by jess2284, all on Flickr.



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  • Aaron Seminoff
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