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gray cat playing with a scratching post

How To Get a Cat To Use a 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. How can you encourage your cat to limit her scratching to the post? There are many suggestions out there, but the best can be found in the book The Natural Cat by Anitra Frazier. Here are some great common-sense tips to get your cat to use the post.

Pick A Good Scratching Post

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.

Ensure the scratching post you choose is completely covered with rough rope or sisal. Get a strong, sturdy scratching post tall enough for your cat to stretch up on, preferably one with a platform or perch on the top. We know how much our cats love getting on elevated spaces!

Embrace The Power Of Catnip

cat on scratching post with catnip

Plant some catnip in the garden, or buy dried catnip and rub it over the post. It sounds simple, but a little nip is a powerful attractor for most cats and will draw your cat to the post. Use it sparingly, as cats can become tolerant of its effects. You can also use synthetic pheromones like Feliway.

Get Your Cat To Use The Post By Adding Excitement

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 them; cats don't like that.

Find The Right Place To Put The 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. Consider laying the post on its side if you have a timid cat. Some cats might not like a tall, new object and will feel more secure if the post is flat.

It is best to place multiple scratching posts around the house, especially where your cat usually scratches. Having posts in several locations gives your cat options and makes a post readily available wherever your cat may feel the urge to scratch.

Focus Playtime On The Post

cat lying near scratching post

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.

How To Make Your Furniture Less Appealing

You can make furniture less appealing to scratch by covering the area with double-sided tape, aluminum foil, plastic sheeting, or sticky paper protectors that you attach to the area. You can also try soft plastic covers that protect the corners and arms of chairs and sofas. Another option is to spray the area with pet repellent. Reapply these techniques every few days until your cat learns to stop scratching the furniture.

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Why does my cat scratch the carpet?

Scratching carpet and furniture is often due to not having appropriate scratching posts. Providing your cat with a sturdy scratching post, especially near areas where they usually scratch, can help redirect this behavior to appropriate items.

Why do cats scratch furniture?

Cats may scratch furniture out of boredom or anxiety simply because the material and location are appealing. The best way to prevent furniture scratching is by trimming your cat's nails regularly, providing scratching posts, and using double-sided tape or aluminum foil to protect furniture. You should also play with your cat daily to release pent-up energy and discourage boredom.

Why do cats love small, enclosed spaces?

Cats are natural hunters and often seek out small, enclosed spaces that make them feel secure. Cardboard boxes, paper bags, and cat beds give cats a space to call their own. Providing your cat with vertical space, like a cat tree or shelving, also allows them to get up high and survey their environment. This can help reduce stress and anxiety, especially in multi-cat homes.

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