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Tips on how to get kitty to use a scratching post

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi there: Does anyone have any tips on how to get my kitty to use her scratching post??? I tried cat nip and that didnt work?? I tried gently scratching her paws against it and that didnt work. Any Ideas???

Thanks Jeremy and Marmalade :-)
post #2 of 8
I would have probably suggested what you already tried lol.
If you see her scratching somewhere else, bring her to the scratching post. Maybe dangle some toys on it to get her to grab it and start scratching. Reward her with her favorite treat when she scratches on it.
post #3 of 8
There's a really great article on this website about cat scratching that's worth reading. The summary is to understand your cats scratching habbits and make sure you get the scratching post that's write for your cats style. Some cats scratch floor surfaces... Some cats scratch verticle surfaces. Either way the length of the scratching surface should be long enough for your cat to stretch out on it.

The article also gets into placement of the scratching post which I think is critical.

What I've done for my cats is going to sound silly but it's actually kinda practical. I've taken a wooden ladder and wrapped both the legs and the steps with siscal rope and I've put the ladder in the kitchen where I come in when I come home from work. Typically my cats want to scratch and stretch when they wake up from a nap... and just about all of my cats get up and come from where ever to see me when I get home, so putting the ladder by the entrance redirects the scratching to that rather than the bathroom carpeting or other furniture.

But I'd read the article about cat scratching on this site, from my experience with cats, the details in the article are right on the money.

post #4 of 8
post #5 of 8
The articles are very informative and should help. But just by way of experience, where they are located is critical, and the type of texture is totally dependent upon the cat, and one of our cats loves to just stand there and scratch on a scratching pad that lays on the floor - the other four love the vertical scratching option and don't use the pad!

We have two scratching pads. The are the same one - one side is sisal (meant to be the "up" side) - the other side is a hard but spongey-kind of rubbery material. One we have right side up, the other we have upside down. Our horizontal scratcher LOVES both of these surfaces, and won't scratch on carpet. Sometimes he sleeps on it, wakes up and stands there and scratches. We placed one in the hallway where he likes to stretch out, and he uses it constantly. The other pad we placed right near the food bowls. They often like to go for a nibble after sleeping, and after napping, waking up and scratching, strolling over for a nibble - he likes to scratch again.

We have a "cat tree" that is covered in a fairly loose weave carpet. They took to it right away. It's in a corner where only the cats hang out.

Several of our cats loved to scratch on the arm-ends of the couch. It's where we sit and hang out - sometimes they like to come over and say "hi" after nap and have a stretch (which means a scratch). We don't stand on formality here. I purchased two hanging scratching things - they're long thin boards covered in sisal with a sisal rope around the top. They're intended to be hung from a doorknob. I tied them in such a way that they rest on the floor and essentially cover up the exposed arms at the end of the couch (vertically, not horizontally on the couch itself). Now they don't scratch the couch. We don't have the room to put a standing scratching post next to either side of the couch, but if I lived in a larger home, that's what I'd do. They could be removed when company comes to visit if you want that look and put back in position when company leaves. Whether they should be carpet posts or sisal posts, you'll have to experiment. Ours are sisal, but the same idea comes in carpet too. There are also cardboard scratchers. I know some cats LOVE this. That'd work under an end-table at the end of a couch!

Bottom-line - you have to be willing to invest some time and money into trying different types of posts and different positions for them. Also, if it's a young kitten, it could also just be learning to use the post(s)/pad(s) as opposed to other things.

You can try purchasing Feliway to spray in areas where she scratches that you don't want her to. This is a spray that mimics the friendly hormone in cat's cheeks (which they spread when they rub on you and your things). Liberally spray Feliway where she's scratching where you don't want her to (at cat cheek level). This will help discourage her.

But especially if a kitten, you may need to do more. If you've got several different types of posts/pads of different materials, most likely place for her to use them is right near where she likes to sleep - and she's still scratching in places you don't want her to, you'll have to take some steps to retrain her. You can also purchase double-sided tape (there's also a product sold in pet stores that's larger than office-supply type tape). Cats do NOT like the "sticky" of tape, and if placed where she's scratching that she shouldn't be, she'll learn to scratch where she should.

Also, you can blow a short, sharp puff of air in her face when she's doing something you don't want her to. It will startle her, and she'll stop doing whatever it is. Applied to scratching, you then pick her up and take her to a post or pad.

Most important, though, is likely type and placement of post. I'd start with putting acceptable scratching items near where she likes to sleep. They love a good stretch when they wake up.

And as she's a kitten, start clipping her claws now. She won't like it at first, but the way I dealt with this was to do it while they're sleeping. We only have one cat that lets me clip claws and just sits there while I do it. The rest I get a claw or two at a time before they wake up. With five cats here, I just make sure to clip a couple of claws a day. This helps provide the nail maintenance she's needs via scratching, and this also helps reduce any wear and tear on your furniture, carpets and wood floors. (Not to mention your arms if she ever gets sick and needs pills for 10 days).

post #6 of 8
My cats never took to the scratching post, no matter what i did! But I bought them one of those scratching pads made out of corrugated cardboard on a whim, and WOW! They went absolutely NUTS! I wondered how they would even know what it was for, and BOOM! Before I could even get it all the way out of its box, they were pushing me out of the way so they could get at it to scratch! They love it, and since I bought that, the ONLY time they ever scratch furniture is when they are specifically mad at me for something. You know how it is... they are trying to tell me who's really boss!

Then I took it to the next level and got the "turbo scratcher." It's a round cardboard scratcher with a trapped ball that rolls around the outside. All 3 of my cats LOVE it! It is the funniest thing EVER to watch them play with it. They sell it at petsmart, but I recommend going to Walmart if you have one by you. At Walmart, it's the same exact brand petsmart sells, but half the price. At around $8, it's a great addition even if you can get them to use the posts you already have. And the replacement pads are only around $3.
post #7 of 8
That article says "Whether training a kitten or an adult cat, don't make the common mistake of trying to put the cat's paws on the scratching post for her. Cats don't like to be handled this way and you risk creating a negative association with the post." which is very true. TopCat says "Contrary to what many cat related web sites recommend, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES FORCE YOUR CAT TO SCRATCH BY FORCIBLY PLACING THEIR PAWS ON THE POST. This is a stressful situation for your cat and often will create real dislike for the scratching post. Instead, use a string toy to lead your cat to the post. Move the toy up the sides of the post and bounce it on top. This will encourage your cat to climb and scratch."

Good advice.

Most cats I've seen aren't picky and will use the cardboard scratchers--if your cat prefers a vertical surface, you can nail it to the wall. TopCat makes a great post, though, and they have a money-back guarantee that your cat will use it. Check it out at http://www.topcatproducts.com/

I've tried scratching posts/pads myself if cats didn't get it at first or didn't seem interested, and that really gets them going. I also do play with the Cat Charmer or a similar toy, which gets them to really get to know the surface.
post #8 of 8
Also, if you get an upright scratching post, make sure it is tall enough for the cat to get a good stretch in while scratching. The scratching post should also be very stable.
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