If you’ve just bought a shiny new scratching post for your cat, it can be a little disheartening to see them stroll right by it and dig their claws into the arm of your couch instead! Luckily, there are many tips and tricks that you can use to encourage your cat to start enjoying that scratching post instead.
1. Use catnip
Most cats love catnip, so this is a great thing to try first. Sprinkle powdered catnip on and around the scratching post, or cover it with a light mist of catnip-infused spray. Watch as your cat comes over to investigate and enjoy that irresistible scent.
2. Encourage your cat to play near it
Sometimes the unfamiliar shape and scent of a new scratching post will leave your cat giving it a wide berth. Get your cat to explore it by enticing them over with their favorite toys. Hanging a dangly toy on a wand over the top of the scratching post can persuade your cat to start enjoying spending time near the scratching post, and before you know it, they’ll be testing it out with their claws too!
3. Place a pheromone product near the scratching post
Artificial feline pheromones like those used in Feliway products are designed to help your cat feel safe and secure. By placing a pheromone diffuser near your cat’s new scratching post, they will feel reassured that their environment is still familiar. You can also get pheromone sprays that you can use on the scratching post itself.
4. Choose your cat’s preferred post material
Some cats have specific preferences of which material they will and won’t use, so finding the right one for your cat is key. Most cats like scratching posts made with sisal rope or fabric, so if you’re starting with only one post, that’s the best option.
Horizontal scratching pads are often made with cardboard, and most cats also like this surface, although the shredded cardboard can make a bit of a mess!
Some cats can get their claws stuck in the fabric loops of carpet scratching posts. This is pretty much guaranteed to make your cat stop using that scratching post ever again! Carpet scratching posts can also encourage your cat to start scratching other carpeted areas of your house, which defeats the purpose.
Wood is an excellent natural material and what your cat will choose to scratch on when outdoors. You can easily make your own DIY wooden scratching post for your cat, and they usually love them!
5. Place the scratching post in the right spot
If you stick your cat’s scratching post in an out-of-the-way corner of the house, don’t be surprised if that scratching post remains untouched. One of the reasons that cats scratch is to leave their scent as a way of marking their territory. Placing the scratching post near the doors or windows that your cat visits most often is a great way to encourage them to have a scratch as they walk past it.
Consider the places that your cat already likes to scratch, and place the scratching post in front of them. So, if your cat loves to scratch the arm of your couch, get a scratching post that’s designed to sit up against this surface.
Cats often love to have a good scratch to stretch their muscles after they wake up. Placing a scratching post near their bed is a great way to encourage them to use it.
6. Offer multiple scratching posts
If you have more than one cat, make sure you offer enough scratching posts for them all. Some cats will “claim” a scratching post as their territory, so the other cats may not want to use it. As with any resource, including food, water, and litter trays, make sure there’s enough to go around without your cats feeling the need to fight over them.
7. Make sure the scratching post is sturdy enough
If you have a large breed cat, like a Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat, a regular-sized scratching post simply might not be large enough for them to use without toppling it over. Cats love to lean their entire body weight against their scratching post, and if it feels unsteady, they simply won’t use it again. Leaning a post against a piece of furniture can sometimes work, but if a post has wobbled once, you might find that your cat ignores it from then on. It’s also important to make sure the scratching post is tall enough for your cat to get a full-body stretch, so choose one that’s as tall as possible for larger cats, like this 33.5-inch Frisco Scratching Post.
8. Offer the correct angle on the scratching surface
Some cats love vertical scratching posts, others prefer those with a shallower angle, and still others love horizontal scratching surfaces. The best thing to do is to offer all three options, as cats will choose to use specific scratching surfaces at different times. Your cat might prefer to use one for having a good stretch, another for relieving stress, and another for removing the outer layers of their claws.
If your cat is leaving their vertical scratching post untouched, but you see them using your best rug instead, they may prefer a horizontal surface instead of a vertical one. We never said cats aren’t picky!
9. Remove the temptation to scratch other surfaces
If you’re trying to divert your cat’s attention from using a piece of furniture as a scratching post, then making these surfaces unappealing can encourage your cat to use their scratching post instead. You can try covering couch arms or furniture legs in tin foil, tape, or a product like Sticky Paws, which is specifically designed to discourage cats from scratching.
10. Reward your cat
It’s important to reward your cat when you see them using their scratching post. Keep a bag of their favorite treats close by, and offer your cat one each time you see them using their new post. They’ll soon start to associate scratching their post with getting yummy rewards.
Once their new behavior is established, you can gradually decrease the number of treats, only offering your cat one every few times that they use the post instead of every time. You can still give them verbal praise, though. Our cats might pretend to be aloof, but we all know that they love it when we tell them what good cats they are!
Featured Image Credit: EbneRol, Shutterstock
- 1. Use catnip
- 2. Encourage your cat to play near it
- 3. Place a pheromone product near the scratching post
- 4. Choose your cat’s preferred post material
- 5. Place the scratching post in the right spot
- 6. Offer multiple scratching posts
- 7. Make sure the scratching post is sturdy enough
- 8. Offer the correct angle on the scratching surface
- 9. Remove the temptation to scratch other surfaces
- 10. Reward your cat