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Teaching cats to use a scratching post

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I've been using the cardboard SmartyKat Super Scratchers for a while now, and I wanted to switch to a permanent scratching post rather than continuing to buy a new cardboard scratcher every couple of weeks. Plus Cleo likes to stretch when she scratches, and it's hard for her to do that with the scratcher on the floor. I purchased a scratcher that can be hung from a door knob. This is also to encourage them to scratch on the scratcher rather than on the carpet by the door. Do you just run their paws on the scratcher to teach them what they're supposed to do with it, or let them figure it out on their own? I put a little catnip on the new scratcher to engage their interest in it.
post #2 of 13
I read somewhere (could have been here) that if your cat is around the post and you start scratching it yourself, they will show interest. It worked for Abby. My husband did make fun of me while I was doing it, but she would use it right after I did!
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
I'll have to try that. I hadn't considered that at all. It's catnap time right now though, so I'll have to wait until they wake up. Thanks
post #4 of 13
You know, that's something we discovered on our own, but it does work! If we catch kitties trying to scratch where they're not supposed to (although they are allowed a stretch on the door jamb, as long as it goes no further than that) kitty is taken to a post and we actively "scritch" on it. We used to do this with Melichus to encourage him to stretch up. The scratching post was a 4 foot tall 4x4 that had claw marks almost all the way to the top .

It definitely works.
post #5 of 13
We have had good success with rubbing the post with catnip.
post #6 of 13
Oliver's got soft paws on now, but before he did my mom bought him both a post and one that hangs on the door... he still uses the post for stretching and scratching, but NEVER took to the one on the door knob.... the door one is carpet shaped like a bunny with plastic whiskers and the most he does is bite on the whiskers... still can't figure that one out.... but i'm not too worried anymore because of the soft paws and the fact that he's done with scratching at the front door after the one time he got out and then got the hell scared out of him...
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
My door knob scratching post is rectangular and carpet wrapped with that sisal rope. It looks like a regular scratching post. I've been showing the cats what to do with the post for a couple of days now. I also rubbed it in catnip, but they're still not used to it. How long did it take for your cats to start using it on their own?
post #8 of 13
Yep, if you (the human) scratch the scratching post with your nails, the noise you create will not only get your cat's attention but will also show your cat how to use the scratching post. Plus, if you praise your cat for using the scratching post, it will hep to reinforce the wanted behavior. It has worked for Izzie.

I did read in other threads that you should never grab a cat's paws and force them to scratch. They will associate the scratching post with having their paws grabbed and will be less likely to use it.

How long does it take for a cat to start using it? It depends on the cat, how often they pass the scratching post, was it rewarding/positive when they used it, etc. To encourage Izzie, I scratched the post everytime I passed it and said "Izzie. Come here". It probably took 2 weeks before Izzie understood this is the thing to scratch and not my sofa. Izzie loves it now and scratches the post just about everytime she passes it. Oh... and you do want to make sure you place the post where the cat is more likely to use it. I have mine next to a door.
post #9 of 13
You might find that they don't like something that hangs from a door knob as it swings, and my cats like their scratching places to be firm and rigid. In order to let them stretch when they scratch I use heavy duty door mats, one or two in each room, and they love them.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
That sounds like a good idea, and will save the carpet by the door too. Thanks!
post #11 of 13
I had one of the door hangy ones. My cats absolutely refused to use it. but when I brought home a solid one that stands on its own they used it just fine with a little example setting from me. I also got them a sisal mat, which they Loooooove.
post #12 of 13
By all means scratch at the post alongside your cat! We do it all the time to train ours and it really works very well. If you catch them scratching in the wrong spot. Give them a firm "NO", carry them to the scratch post and rub their paws on it. Then rub your nails over it to show them and praise the heck out of them when they do it right. When you are first starting your training, a little bag of treats (if they are so motivated) will help.

Mine really don't like the hanging door scratchposts. It moves around too much for them and they go to the sturdy poles. If you buy a free-standing post, make sure it is tall enough for them to stand on their hind legs and really stretch out on it - I like mine at least 3 feet tall for that purpose). Place them around the house.

With my tall scratchposts, I also have the floor cardboard scratchers, but they don't go thru them very fast as they have lots of alternatives. I only have to replace the cardboard every 6 months or so.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice everyone. I put the door hangy scratcher on the floor figuring if they decide to use it or not...whatever. They like the cardboard one a lot for some reason. I'm going to get a sturdy door mat to protect the carpet in front of the door. I'm sure they'll scratch on it, because they scratch on the throw rug I have there now. That solves the carpet problem, and they are getting a cat condo next month. I'll teach them to scratch on that, now that I know how to go about it.
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