How to Encourage Cats to Use Scratching Posts

Encouraging Your Cat to Use a Scratching Post

Scratching posts can satisfy your cat’s natural instinct to sharpen his claws, hunt for prey and climb.

They can also satisfy your natural instinct to protect your furniture, walls, doors and carpets from being shredded.

This is why buying a scratching post is often a very shrewd investment.

A good one will provide your cat with a long-lasting alternative to your home decor and furnishings.

Unfortunately though, there is a chance that your cat will turn its nose up at your fantastic new purchase!

So why his this?

Cats on Scratching Post

Why Won’t My Cat Use a Scratching Post?

While your car’s indifference is obviously going to be frustrating, there are a number of reasons why this might be happening.

First off all, it might simply be the case that your cat simply has better things to do. After all, they lead quite busy lives when they’re not lounging around!

But if it seems pretty evident after a time that he’s simply not interested, further investigation may be required. Here are a few possible reasons for your cat’s indifference.

Not Tall Enough

Remember that cats often use scratching posts to stretch. So investing in a post that’s too short might put your cat off from the very beginning.

Make sure to buy one that’s the right size for your cat. Most respected online retailers such as Amazon, will include information about size suitability in their product descriptions.

Not Sturdy Enough

The weight of a scratching post is important too. One that falls down under your cat’s body weight is probably going to fall out of favour pretty quickly.

It makes sense then, to choose a cat scratching post that’s durable and features a large base.

Wrong Material

Try to choose a scratching post with a strong material into which your cat can sink his claws. This can help you to avoid trimming your cat’s nails.

Keep in mind though that cats prefer stronger surfaces for sharpening their nails. Just watch how they attack trees!

Therefore, avoid scratching posts made from soft materials such as carpet scraps. Those made from sisal rope, fabric and even corrugated cardboard are recommended.

Keep in mind too that cats can get their claws stuck in the fabric loops of carpet-lined scratching posts – another reason to avoid these types of post.

Kitten and Scratching Post

Wrong Thread Direction

Believe it or not, cats tend to prefer scratching vertically which means that posts with vertical thread might be a better option. Experiment though – not all cats are the same! Sisal rope is probably your best bet here.

Difficulty in Using Post

Then you’ve got cats that for whatever reason prefer horizontal scratching posts as opposted to free-standing posts. A horizontal variant could be an excellent choice for an infirm or mature cat that isn’t quite as lithe as he once was.

Cat Not Using Scratching Post – Possible Reasons

  • Incorrect Height/Weight
  • Material Too Soft/Catches Your Cat’s Claws
  • Horizontal Thread
  • Old/Infirm Cat Finds Vertical Post Difficult to Use

How to Encourage Your Cat to Use a Scratching Post

Now that we’ve evaluated some of the most common reasons that your cat may refuse to use a scratching post, let’s take a look at some of the steps you can take to ensure your purchase wasn’t in vain.

Use Catnip

Catnip is a plant that can be found in the mint family. It has been known to have a variety of benefits for cats such as reducing stress and stimulating pheromones.

It also contains a a chemical called Nepetalactone which is very enticing to felines. So try applying catnip to the top and base of the scratching post.

Pheromone Sprays

Another option is to use a pheromone spray. Available from from brands such Feliway, pheromone sprays have been proven to be effective at preventing cats from scratching furniture.

They mimic the pheromones emitted from cats’ facial glands and can be sprayed on different surfaces including scratching posts.

One academic study actually found that cats are attracted to scratching posts that contain pheromones left by previous feline scratchers.

Siamese Cat with Scratching Post

Get Your Cat to Play Near the Scratching Post

Sometimes, a new scratching post will put your cat off, purely because its unfamiliar. Try to engourage familiarity by getting your cat to explore the post.

It might help if you put a favourite toy in the post’s vicinity or play with your pet, using the post as the focal point of a game.

Get the Placement Right

Place the scratching post in an area commonly used by your cat. Put it in a secluded corner of your home and there’s a strong likelihood that the post will be ignored.

Consider installing the post next to the cat-flap or window – somewhere that your cat visits most often.

This is a great way to encourage him to have a scratch as he walks past. You could also put it next to the cat’s bed – felines enjoy stretching when they wake up and the post provides the perfect means to do just this.

Also consider placing the post next to and old scratching site. If he’s been butchering the arm of your sofa, try putting the post there as a means of offering an alternative.

Introduce Multiple Scratching Posts

With multiple cats, you’ll want to install more than one scratching post. It’s likely that one of them will claim a specific post for his own – this should either deter the other cats from using it or cause a confrontation.

Reward Your Cat

Be sure to reward your cat if you manage to get him using the scratching post. Keep a bag of treats handy, offering one every time he uses the post.

This practice will eventually cause your cat to associate the behavior with receiving a tasty reward.

Ways to Encourage Use of Scratching Post

  • Use Catnip
  • Choose a Suitable Location
  • Introduce Multiple Scratching Posts
  • Reward Your Cat
  • Use Pheromone Spray

Video – Why Your Cat Won’t Use a Scratching Post

Final Thoughts

Training a cat to use a scratching post shouldn’t be too difficult, provided you follow some of the pointers mentioned here.

As long as you’ve purchased a durable scratching post that’s heavy and of a material that your cat favours, there’s a good chance that you’ll have him using the post sooner rather than later.

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