So you have a new cat scratching post in hopes of enticing your cat to scratch on it instead of causing further damage to your furniture or carpet. However, your cat just walks past it and chooses to scratch their claws on your favorite couch. What gives?
As cat owners, we are no stranger to strange cat behaviors. Fortunately, there are several tips & tricks that we can pull up your sleeve to encourage our cat to use scratching posts while saving our furniture in the process.
Choosing the right areas to place your cat scratching posts may make a whole lot of difference. First things first, it helps to think like a cat and make yourself aware of their scratching behaviors. While we may have our own preferences as to where to place the scratching posts (for example, In corners or places that will not get in the way of things), cats may think otherwise (at least at first). When we look at things through their perspective, we will be able to understand their behavior better.
Below are the common reasons why cats scratch on surfaces:
- They are stretching their muscles
- They are marking their territory
- They are practicing their climbing and hunting skills
- They’re keeping their nails in tiptop shape
Consider areas where your cat likes visiting the most (ex. near windows or doors) so the scratching posts will be easily noticeable. At the same time, be mindful of the areas where your cat likes to scratch. If, for example, your cat likes scratching the arm of your sofa, get a scratching post that can fit snugly onto the same surface. Note that cats often like stretching when they wake up, so a scratching post near the area where they usually sleep might work.
Providing several cat scratching posts around your home will also lessen the chances of your cat scratching on different furniture or carpets.
Meanwhile, when you notice your cat scratching on things too much, it is possible that they may be having anxiety due to a medical problem. In severe cases, it may sometimes warrant a visit to the vet. If such is the case as with other pet emergencies that your cat may be susceptible to, an animal fund for emergencies will be very helpful. Cutting your cat’s nails may also help prevent injury in your cat. Note that this is different from declawing as declawing can cause much harm to your cat and is discouraged by vets as well.
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Material and Quality
Cat scratching posts come in various materials. The most common ones include:
- Sisal rope or fabric
- Corrugated cardboard
Cats may have their own preferences as to which material to use (or not use), so determining which material is right for your specific cat helps. Many cats have a liking for scratching posts made with sisal rope or fabric, so for starters, you may try that material for better chances of your cat using it.
Another material that is a hit with many cats is horizontal scratching boards made with corrugated cardboard. A word of warning though – this may make a mess since shreds of cardboard are likely to be produced around the area.
And because cats usually gravitate towards trees as their natural scratching posts when outdoors, wood may be a good choice. You can even do a wooden cat scratching post yourself, and your cat might thank you for it.
Steer clear from carpet scratching posts with fabric loops as your cat’s claws might get tangled in it, which is enough reason for them to stay away from it. On the other hand, a carpet scratching post may also lure them into thinking that all carpets are scratching areas, defeating the purpose.
Note that it is also important that your cat scratching post is sturdy and not wobbly, otherwise, your cat may not find it stable for scratching resulting in them not wanting to use it afterwards
Making It Enticing
If your cat will not use the scratching post, below are a number of ways to entice them.
1. Invite your cat to play beside it
Because the new scratching post is unfamiliar to your cat, they may not give much attention to it. Allow your cat to explore it by inviting them using their favorite toys or treats. For example, you may hang a dangling or feathered toy on top of the scratching post to encourage your cat to explore the area. Sooner or later, you may find them scratching away.
2. Use pheromone products
Today, there are several feline pheromone products available that may help make your cat feel relaxed and safe. For example, you may use a pheromone spray around the new scratching post to make your cat feel that the area is secure. Alternatively, you may place a pheromone diffuser beside the scratching post for a similar effect.
3. Consider catnip
If you have used catnip on your cat before, you may already know how much they love it. Using products such as a catnip-infused spray or powdered catnip in the area of your new scratching post may invite your cat to explore and bask in the alluring scent.
Considering things in your cat’s perspective may go a long way in getting them to use scratching posts instead of your furniture or carpet. Remember not to resort to negative reinforcement as this may do more harm than good. Rather, use positive reinforcement to redirect their behavior in healthy ways.