If you are already on my blog, then you know at Scratch Play Meow we are all about helping our humans protect their furniture from cat scratches. In fact, my human Jeff designed the ScratchLadder specifically because I wouldn’t stop destroying all the wood surfaces throughout the home. As satisfying as it can be for us cats to scratch different surfaces in the home, its worth it for our humans to learn how to retrain us to use a post or ladder meant specifically for scratching. Plus, not scratching the furniture equals more pets for us!
Why do cats need to scratch?
Scratching is normal, instinctual behavior for cats, so you don’t want to fully discourage the urge. Before I get into how humans can stop us from scratching their furniture, it’s important to understand why we cats like to scratch in the first place. One of the main reasons cats like to scratch is to mark their territory, both visually and with a scent. In nature, big cats mark up trees to show other animals that this is their area and to stay away.
It’s also good for the cat’s nails. Cats can’t use a nail clipper the same way humans can, so they turn to scratching as a way for them to get rid of their dead skin and to keep the nails nice and sharp. Lastly, they do it because it just feels really good! Scratching is a great way for cats to stretch out their bodies and flex their feet and claws. This helps them to reduce stress and prepare for maximum relaxation.
Can cats really be taught not to scratch furniture?
The short answer here – yes! I, Milo Fwancis, am living proof that cats can be weaned off the furniture and redirected toward the ScratchLadder
How to train a cat to use a scratching post
First things first, it’s all about the location. As previously mentioned, cats love to mark their territory. Therefore, you should think about where your cat currently scratches and put the post strategically in that area. They’ve already claimed it as their territory and will likely return there for more scratching.
You can also consider placing the post where your cat sleeps. Like humans, cats like to wake up and stretch. We now know that scratching helps cats stretch, so they may be more inclined to use the post when they first wake up as well.
Next, you want to cover the post with loose leaf catnip. This will draw your cat over to the post, and ideally your cat will begin to rub against the post and start kneading their paws. Another tactic to get your fur baby interested in the post is to play with them in that area. Take a wand or toy your cat really likes and fling it around and over the scratching post. This will get your cat interacting with the post and discovering how amazing it is for scratching.
Lastly, don’t forget the treats and positive verbal reinforcement! If your cat takes notice and sniffs the post, give them a treat, lots of praise, and lots of pets. Same thing when they start trying it out. You can also place a treat at the top of the post, making your cat climb and interact to retrieve it. You want your cat to have positive connotations with the post, so they will be more apt to use it.
What if your cat doesn’t like the scratching post?
If your cat doesn’t immediately take to the scratching post, don’t give up! Try moving the post to different locations and keeping it there for a few days before trying someplace else. It can be frustrating at first, but if your cat is a scratcher, they will eventually warm up to the new post and spend their days scratching away!
Milo Fwancis and his Scratchladder