Training your cat to use a scratching post

Training your cat to use a scratching post
8 August 2016 Margaret Brittan

My friends have just adopted a cat called Crunchie Biscuit. She is absolutely gorgeous (as you can see from above!) and has a feisty character just to suit my friends’ calm a relaxed personalities. Settling in well and making herself feel right at home, Crunchie Biscuit is getting on fabulously however there is one thing that she is getting too familiar with their curtains.

She is addicted to scratching and clawing their curtains. Sinking her sharp claws into the fabric, she loves using them as her own personal theraband to give her that wanted and needed stretch- but why can’t she use the scratching post!?

Well, I went on a mission to try and find out why and what you can do as a cat owner to encourage your kitty, however old, to use their scratching post instead of your beloved Chesterton sofa or your decorative Laura Ashley curtains.

 

Why cats love a good scratch

Despite us thinking that our cats like to remodel our home out of sheer spite, or because we haven’t provided a whole tuna fish for dinner, the actual reason why our cats love a good scratch is totally different.

Cats scratch objects in their environment for many reasons:

  • To remove the dead outer layer of their claws
  • To mark their territory by leaving both a visual mark and a scent (they have scent glands on their paws)
  • To stretch their bodies and flex their feet and claws

Our goal shouldn’t be to try and stop them from scratching entirely, moreover we want them to ‘relocate’ their scratching somewhere else.

 

Cats’ favourite things to scratch

Most cats are attracted to anything with a nubby, coarse or textured surface, or something they can really sink their claws into. Thick curtains, sofas and wicker furniture can quickly become cats favourite scratching spots.

 

It’s scratching time

Cats scratch they wake up from a nap, when they want to mark their territory or when they’re excited about something, like you coming home from work.

 

The cat scratching solution

The first thing you can do is make the your cats’ favourite scratching spots a little more unpleasant and unattractive.

  • Many cats don’t like the odour of citrus or menthol. Try attaching cotton balls soaked in cologne or a muscle rub to the places you want them to leave alone
  • Cats love texture so covering the off-limits spots with things your cat will find unappealing on its paws, like double-sided sticky tape, aluminium foil or sheets of sandpaper
  • You could purchase a water spray and squiff a little water on your cat each time it approaches the scratching area- this way they will soon associate that area as a no go area! Clapping your hands loudly or shaking a can of pennies works too- you want to associate ‘sofa bad, post good’ with your cat.

 

PLEASE NOTE: NEVER YELL OR HIT YOUR CAT AS PUNISHMENT. They won’t know what they did wrong and could learn to fear you, which you’d never want.

 

Whilst you are trying out the above techniques, you can have your scratching post working its magic in the background by simply having it around.

You can help your kitty along with seeing it as a good scratching area by popping it in convenient areas of the house, such as next to their sleeping spot so that they can enjoy using it after a nap for a nice stretch, or by the front door for an intense session after they greet you when you come home.

 

The perfect scratching post

Here are a few ideas on what type of post to get and what you can do to make it attractive to scratch.

  • A sturdy, rope-covered upright post
  • A flat scratch pad of corrugated cardboard
  • The back side of a carpet square
  • The back side of a carpet square
  • a small log with bark (make sure it hasn’t been treated with harmful chemicals before bringing it inside)

A scratching object can be free-standing, lie on the floor or hang from a doorknob. Experiment to find out what your cat prefers or, even better, provide a variety of scratching objects in different places and positions. Rub a little catnip into the post or attach a toy to the top to make it even more attractive.

Hopefully these handy hints will be saving sofas everywhere and curtailing curtain clawing. And for my friends’ cat Crunchie Biscuit – she better be ready as those curtains will soon be smelling like a menthol monster.

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