Reach up, hook in, pull back and rip it up. It’s a feel-good thing. Unfortunately, it feels good only to the cat. The furniture (and the human owner) is often at odds with this time-honored tradition of the feline set. That’s when a cat scratch post is a cat’s best friend – and the human’s!
Wild and Domestic Cats Scratch for Several Reasons
- It’s a feel-good issue. Some cats are tentative scratchers while others go at it like feline chainsaws. Regardless of intensity, all cats, wild and domestic, need to imbibe. It just plain feels good. It’s cat nirvana.
- It’s a territory issue. When kitty scratches, she leaves her scent as a message to other animals. Even if there are no other animals in the home, a cat is genetically programmed to announce her presence. And, as a true creature of habit, she’ll repeat the performance regularly, most often in the same locations.
- It’s a grooming issue. Cats need to keep their claws in good repair to use as weapons of defense but it also helps dislodge dirt and debris.
Train Your Cat’s Attention Away from Furniture and Toward a Scratching Post
Contrary to popular belief, a cat can be trained and a cat scratching post can be the perfect answer. First, decide on a permanent location for it. Since cats often stretch and scratch after a nap, place it near her sleeping spot or where she spends most of her time. She won’t want to go out of her way, so refrain from positioning the post in an isolated location.
Sprinkle or spray catnip on the surface but take care that it lands only on the post and not on your furniture. For this reason, you may want to apply it outside your home.
Let Kitty Think it’s Her Idea
Make sure your cat watches while you place it in its pre-determined location. Don’t speak to her; don’t even look at her. Just put it down and leave the room. Let her approach in her own time. If she sniffs it, bites it and even wrestles it to the ground, you’re in business. If not, attract her attention by dangling her favorite toy around the post.
It may seem silly – as pet parents, we’ve done worse 🙂 – but if she’s still not interested, she may need a demonstration. Kneel down and scratch your fingernails on the post. If she appears interested, continue until she joins you.
Original Scratching Places May Need De-scenting
If everything goes according to plan, the post will become her favorite scratching location but she may return to her past points of desire as long as her scent remains. Ask your veterinarian or pet supply store to recommend a product that will remove the scent.
- Furniture can be protected by covering it with double-sided tape, aluminum foil or vinyl. Most cats find these materials disagreeable.
- Pet supply stores sell a variety of scratching posts or build one yourself.
- Trim your cat’s claws regularly. Ask your veterinarian to show you how.
- Try catching her attention before her claws make contact with furniture. Most cats startle at sudden noises or movement. Clap your hands and step quickly toward her. After several repetitions, she’ll get the message that scratching in that location will result in disconcerting sound and movement.
- As a last resort, keep a spray bottle of water handy. When she reaches up to scratch, send a spray of water in her direction. Don’t spray directly at her. You don’t want to hurt your cat – you just want her to step away from the furniture.
- Most scratching posts are vertical and covered in carpet or sisal rope. If your cat isn’t interested in this type of post, try a vertical post or one with no covering. Some cats prefer plain wood.