Getting scratched, badly, by a cat is no fun. But those cat claws are there for a variety of reasons. Beyond just the ability to climb trees (and escape danger), cat claws help them mark their territory, stretch their muscles, and stay balanced while walking, running, and playing.
Understanding that it is so important to let your little kitties keep their talons, let’s talk about how to train your cat to use a scratching post so they can keep those claws in good shape without damaging your furniture.
Tip #1 - Assign a Scratching Post Location
The first step in teaching your cat to scratch a post is, finding the right location to place it. Make sure to select a post that is appealing: taller than your cat so it is enticed to reach, and a texture you are familiar with your cat likening to (for example: if your cat scratches the carpet of your home often, find a post that is covered in a similar fabric). Do note, cats usually like rough surfaces though, such as sisal rope.
Tip #2 - Make Sure Scratching Post Is Stable
The next step in getting your cat to use a scratching post is to make sure the post is stable, so your cat is not easily scared away by a wobbly post. You may also consider selecting multiple, stable and sturdy scratch posts so your cat has options and feels safe and un-startled by their presence.
Tip #3 - Discourage Scratching in Wrong Sections
Begin discouraging your cat from scratching areas that are off limits (for example: furniture) by clapping loudly anytime you see them scratching places in your home that are off-limits. While negative feedback isn’t always the best way to train animals, clapping loudly is a somewhat innocuous way to gently startle your cat away from objects that are off limits.
Tip #4 - Use Positive Reinforcement
At this point, it’s time to switch to the positive reinforcement. Entice your kitten with treats. You can simply place a treat on top of the scratching post. Also hang fun kitten toys from the scratching post. Toys such as yarn balls, feathers, and the alike are sure to get your feline friend scratching where you want him to scratch.
Tip #5 - Get Help with Tools
Lastly, you can use other tools, like pheromone sprays or catnip to entice your cat to their scratching post. Cats are attracted by scent, so products like Feliway and Feliscratch spritzed on or around their scratching post will surely entice them to come and at least have a look.
Remember that for cats, scratching has multiple functions, many of which are for health and longevity reasons. The sound of a scratching cat, or the feel of a kitten’s sharp claws, may not always be particularly pleasant, but just know that by encouraging a healthy scratch, your cat is sure to have a long, happy life.