How to Train a Cat to Scratch a Scratching Post

Easy
1-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Any pet parents with a feline fur-baby will know how important it is to have a scratching post. Cats require a scratching post to stretch, shed their claws, and mark their territory. Cats cannot effectively shed their claws without scratching on a surface, and you'll find your cat will use your expensive furniture if their post isn't up to "scratch".

But how do you ensure your cat uses their scratching post? You'll find most cats will naturally use their post without any training; however, there are a couple of ways you encourage Felix to use their scratching post. 

Defining Tasks

The defining task is getting your cat to use their scratching posts over your household furniture! Picking the "pawfect" spot is very important, even if it's not in a convenient location for humans. While you may be tempted to place the post in the corner out of the way, it may not be the best spot for your feline.

Consider buying several scratching posts and strategically place them around your house. For example, if you find your cat is pulling at your carpet in one specific spot, it may be the right place to put a post.

"Unfurtunately", some cats will take to a piece of furniture, and it's difficult to get them to stop. You can deter them from scratching up your sofa by placing a heavy blanket or throw over their favorite scratching spot and tucking it in so they can't remove it.

Then, try placing a sturdy scratching post nearby and play with them near it so they know it's okay to use. You can also try sprinkling catnip over the scratching post to attract your cat. Catnip is a popular way of encouraging a cat to use or play with something, and many cat products come with a small bag of 'nip.

You can also try to teach your cat right from wrong by making a loud noise when they start scratching on forbidden furniture and rewarding them with treats when they use their scratching post instead. However, this is easier said than done, and anybody with a cat will know this is usually pointless.

Getting Started

First off, you'll want to buy a high-quality vertical scratching post. The best way to decide on a post is to compare it to a tree, which your feline friend would use in the wild. If you buy a small or wobbly scratching post, your cat will likely steer clear as it isn't fit for purpose.  

If a scratching post is too small, they may not be able to stretch out properly. And as your cat needs to put most of their weight on a scratching post, they will likely avoid anything unsteady as it may collapse. Horizontal scratching posts may get some use, but a vertical scratching post is necessary for a cat to shed their claws properly.

Most importantly, a scratching post will help your feline friend feel at home. Cats release sweat and pheromones from the pads of their paws, which help them mark their territory. The husks of their claws are also a sign to other cats that this is their territory.

The Primary Method

Effective
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Step
1
Place
Place one or two sturdy scratching posts around your home in areas your cat visits frequently or near where they sleep.
Step
2
Play
Play with your cat near one of the scratching posts and try to incorporate it into play.
Step
3
Reward
Praise and reward your cat for using their scratching post.
Step
4
Cover
If your cat continues to try to use your furniture and carpet as an alternative, place obstacles like another scratching post or a heavy blanket.
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The Alternative Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Place
Place one or two well-made scratching posts around your home in areas your cat visits frequently or near where they sleep.
Step
2
Encourage
Allow your cat to use the post. Reward your cat for using the post correctly, and make a loud noise if your cat tries to use an alternative. Don't yell or pick your cat up, as this may make them fearful and untrusting.
Step
3
Move
If you find your cat won't use the post, place it near their favorite piece of furniture. Cover the furniture in a heavy blanket.
Step
4
Entice
Try sprinkling the post with catnip so your cat is drawn to it.
Step
5
Repeat
Continue to occasionally sprinkle the post with catnip, especially if your cat seems disinterested. Try moving it from place to place till you find a spot your cat likes.
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Written by Adam Lee-Smith

Published: 05/12/2021, edited: 05/12/2021

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