How to Teach Your Cat to Use Their Cat Scratching Post
Scratching is a natural behaviour which helps cats to ride their claws of old layers, to stretch their legs and to mark their territory. You will never stop your cat from scratching and you shouldn’t. But what you can do is encourage them to use a scratching post rather than your favourite furniture!
Teaching a cat to do anything can be tricky. Whilst quick to learn anything which is to their advantage, most cats are world champions at ignoring everything else. To make matters worse cats are also skilled attention seekers when it suits them and will soon learn that scratching your antique cabinet is guaranteed to get a reaction.
So what can you do to save that cabinet and your sanity?
It is best to start training your pet from when they are a kitten if at all possible. Clearly you will have missed this particular boat if you have adopted an adult cat in which case begin their training as soon as they are settled in your home.
The Right Cat Scratching Post
Cats will not scratch a wobbly post and will prefer one which is tall enough for them to stretch to their full length. If you have the wrong post for your cat’s needs then you will struggle to train them to use it. They may be more inclined to use a post which they can clearly identify as their territory so a scratching post with a platform or sleeping area could be a good investment. Most cats prefer a vertical surface to scratch but a few will opt for horizontal surfaces and these may include your carpet! Watch where your cat chooses to scratch before investing in your cat scratching post and you should be able to choose the right style for their needs.
It is vital that you position any scratching post where cats are most likely to want to use it. Every cat will have its own preferences but these will never include locations close to their litter tray or food. Many cats like a stretch and scratch after a period of rest and so it can be a good idea to locate their post close to where they sleep. If you have the budget then invest in a few scratching posts which you can position in different rooms. If your cat never has to travel far to find a post there is a better chance that they will steer clear of your furniture.
Carrot and Stick
Even with the best cat scratching post in the world, your cat may still require a little encouragement to use it. Training will involve both rewards and dissuasion. Place treats, catnip or toys on the scratching post and praise your cat for using it. If they attempt to scratch anything else make it clear that you are angry. You could also squirt your cat with a little water whenever they scratch inappropriately.
If you fail to make headway then try a different kind of scratching post before you give up. It could be the case that you have simply chosen a post which doesn’t suit. Your cat will probably find a favourite place to scratch which it will always be hard to keep them away from but your scratching post should eventually solve most of your problems.