They will do their best to please their human companions, provided they know they’re supported and praised. Over time, with repeated loving practice, your cat should become used to leaving the furniture alone and using alternatives for their scratching. A scratching post is the answer to your scratching problem, but it will take time to encourage your cat to use it. When purchasing the scratching post, there are some things to consider initially. Ensure that it is sturdy and cannot wobble when pressure is applied to it by your cat. Scratching boards and posts come in different sizes and uses. Some are flat on the floor and some are raised.
Some are made of hemp. It is better to have too many around, than not enough. Some cats prefer to scratch on a horizontal surface like the carpet. Orientate the scratch post horizontally or vertically to match their preference and they will be more likely to use it. There are cardboard, sisal, and carpet based options for horizontal surfaced scratching. Whatever you choose, avoid anything fluffy.
Posts with sisal fiber rope wound around them are best, and the scratchier it is, the less inviting your heirloom needlework pieces will seem. Figure out which pieces of furniture the cat has clawed and their locations. Make sure the scratching apparatus is prominently featured in the room and next to any furniture the cat seems to prefer scratching. If you have just gotten a cat, place the post where it might be likely that a new cat would try to scratch. It’s a really good idea to have more than one scratching post, especially if you have upstairs and downstairs areas, your house is large, or you have more than one cat. This will lessen the probability that your cat will resort to furniture in other rooms without scratching posts. If your cat is always scratching the chair you sit in most, locate a scratching post near it.
You could also leave a piece of your laundry on the top of the scratching post for a while, or use its top tray as a drop spot for personal items, so that your cat sees it as part of your territorial marker, like your favorite chair. This is especially relevant if your cat is extremely attached to one person in the household. Putting the scratching post or cat tree in close contact with their favorite sofa or chair can make it even more enticing. Train your cat to use the scratching post. Condition your kitten or cat to use the scratching post and nothing else for scratching. Encourage your cat to unleash his claws on the new scratching post by gently placing him in front of it. At the same time, gently stroke him and wait for him to respond to the post in front of him.
If you want to make the post more inviting, rub catnip or spray catnip oil onto the post. Every time your cat uses the scratching post, offer it praise and give it a pat and a treat. Some suggest that you encourage your cat by gently placing his front paws onto the post and even moving the paws up and down on it, but warn that many cats hate being forced to do anything and this can have a very negative effect. Alternatively, you could even «show» your cat how to scratch using your own fingernails. In swiping at the toy, he or she may discover the joy of scratching the pole behind it. Another method of conditioning your cat to like their scratching post is to withhold your greeting upon returning home until you reach the scratching post.
Stand at the post and scratch it with your nails, telling your cat how happy you are to see them. When they come near the post and start clawing it, stop scratching it yourself and start stroking the cat while they scratches the post, all the while praising them for being such a good cat. Adjust the position and type of the scratching post as needed. Feel free to move the post around a bit if your cat is not paying attention to it. Don’t try to force the cat to like it as it is, instead personalize the post to your cat’s likes. For instance, if you notice your cat exhibiting nervousness or dislike of the scratching post, try tilting it onto its side. This will make it smaller and less threatening while the cat gets used to it.
Cats develop preferences for scratching surfaces or substrates. Use the surface your cat prefers. This may be sisal rope, carpeting, cardboard, or drapery fabric or something else entirely. Transitioning your cat to a new scratching post or surface will be much more successful if you work with your cat’s tendencies, not against them. Be aware, however, that the cat may only learn not to scratch when you are present, and may continue to scratch in your absence since they link the punishment directly to you. Try not to let the cat see that you threw it. This way, it appears triggered by the scratching, and has nothing to do with you. That way the cat is less likely to scratch when you are away, because they don’t associate you directly with the punishment. Then, pick them up and place them next to the scratching pole as a means of conditioning. Never scold your cat when they are near or using the scratching post. They need to associate the scratching post with all things pleasant and happy. Use water to stop your cat’s bad behavior. This won’t hurt the cat but it will help them to associate scratching that piece of furniture with a less-than-pleasant spritz of water!