Cats Need to Scratch Something

Training Your Cat to Use a Scratching Post

That cat keeps scratching the furniture! Believe it or not, cats need to scratch on something. Pam Johnson, writer of Twisted Whiskers: Solving Your Cat’s Behavioral Problems, says that scratching is “vital for maintaining physical health by removing the dead outer sheaths to reveal the new claws underneath” (Johnson 68). “Another reason,” Johnson says, “for scratching behavior is to stretch and tone the muscles of the shoulders and back” (Johnson 68). So, provide scratching posts a-plenty, and try different kinds because what appeals to one cat may not appeal to another. I’ll list a few types below in the order most cats seem to prefer.

There are three common choices for posts, but I have had the most success with the corrugated cardboard posts that you can put catnip in. They can be laid flat on the floor, which cats seem to love, or hung on a door knob. The basic training tip is to show your cat how to use it. When you see him clawing on the corner of the couch, move a scratching post there and put his paws on it. In the beginning, I would get a bunch of these $5 cardboard scratching posts and place them in all the areas your cat likes to scratch. Later, after he is used to this, you can reduce the number.

Another kind is a sisal post or board, which last longer than cardboard ones and some cats like. Don’t go buy a bunch of these at first, though, because some cats won’t use them.

The third kind of post is a carpeted one, and although cats really like this, it can confuse them because it teaches them that carpet is okay, and sometimes this extends to fabric in their minds.

If you don’t think you will have time or patience to train a cat to use a scratching post, then you should put off adopting one until you do. There is no magic trick to training a cat. It is simply a matter of time, persistence and patience on your part. You must continue to show your cat what you want him to do.

by Victoria M. King