How to Get Your Cat to Use a Scratching Post by Dr. Dana Cini

Scratching is a natural behavior for cats allowing them to maintain their nails, scent mark and stretch their muscles. Unfortunately, this normal behavior can leave your furniture in shreds. Before you resort to the extreme of declawing your cat try training your cat to prefer a scratching post or pad. Declawing should never be considered lightly, it is a painful procedure that can result in chronic paw pain for your cat.

First consider where to place the scratching post. It should be somewhere the cat enjoys hanging out. Don’t hide the post in the basement or a dark room. Often cats like being where people are like the living room. They also enjoy windows with lots of sun. If your cat has already picked a corner of your couch to demolish try placing the post in front of this area. This is a temporary spot, once your cat is using the post you can slowly move it to an area you prefer.   You can discourage scratching of the furniture by covering it with double sided tape or tin foil. Cats don’t like the feeling of these materials on their paws. Encourage them to use the post instead by rubbing cat nip on the post and feeding treats by the scratching post. Never force your cat to use a post by holding their paws making a scratching motion, this will only set-up a negative association with the post.

Next you should determine what type of material your cat prefers to scratch on. There is a large variety of scratching posts available, the most common being made of carpet, sisal rope and cardboard. Some cats will prefer to scratch on a log, mimicking a tree trunk. You may need to try a few different types until you find your cat’s preference. All scratching posts must be very stable and sturdy. If a post topples while a cat is scratching it may scare them or at the very least not allow them to get a good scratch sending them back to your couch. Some cats will prefer to scratch on a horizontal surface so they can grip the scratch pad with their back paws while they scratch with their front paws.

Destructive scratching of furniture is a very common and frustrating problem for cat owners. By training your cat to use a scratching post you will not only save your furniture but enrich your cat’s environment allowing them to exercise their natural cat behavior. If you have further questions about training your cat on the scratching post, please contact our Bolton veterinary team!