How to Train Your Cat to Use a Scratching Post

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Got a new kitten? A stubborn old tom? The couch looking a bit worse for wear?

Sure, feline friends may make your life brighter, but their scratching habits? Not so much.

But hold on, before you break into a cold sweat, this post will guide you through teaching your cat how to embrace the scratching post and forget about your favorite furniture. So relax, we’ve got your furniture – and your sanity – covered.

Together, we will navigate the clawsome world of feline scratching and devise a plan to save your beloved upholstery.

brown cat scrathing a post on cat tree

Why Do Cats Scratch?

Scratching is more than a feline’s hobby – it’s part of their very essence.

This natural behavior serves a multitude of purposes – it helps them stretch their bodies, keep their claws sharp, and even leaves scent marks claiming their territory. It’s not an act of rebellion – it’s just being a cat.

But understanding this is only the first step. Now, let’s redirect this deeply-rooted instinct to a more suitable spot – say goodbye to the valuable cushions and hello to the scratching post.

Picking a Scratching Post Your Cat Will Love

Choosing the right scratching post is key. Let’s get straight to it – the best scratching posts are not just the ones that blend with your decor.

They need to be tall enough for your cat to fully stretch (think the height of a window sill), sturdy enough to withstand their vigorous scratching sessions, and made from materials that will satisfy their clawing needs. Sisal, cardboard, or wood are usually cat-approved textures.

Here are some of our top recommendations:

  1. The SmartCat Pioneer Pet Ultimate Scratching Post. At 32 inches high, this allows your cat to stretch vertically, and the sturdy base eliminates wobbling. Good quality, good packaging, they last a long time, and they don’t fall over.
  2. PetFusion 3-Sided Vertical Cat Scratching Post. This unique, modern design offers your cat multiple scratching angles and the choice between sisal and cardboard textures. This one is also of good quality, as well as durable and fun, so your cat will love it!
  3. The Kitty City XL Wide Corrugate Cat Scratchers. Great for cats who prefer horizontal scratching. The extra-wide design accommodates cats of all sizes. They are affordable, two-sided, and last for months, but may not appeal to all cats.

Always remember, you’re shopping for your cat, not for yourself. Their preferences are crucial.

Step-by-Step: Training Your Cat to Scratch Right

Introducing the Post

First things first, you need to introduce your cat to their new scratching post. Make sure to place it near where they like to spend their time, or where they’ve previously shown interest in scratching (like that worn-out corner of your couch).

The idea here is to make the post an attractive, easy-to-reach alternative.

Enticing Your Cat

Now, this might seem like an odd tip, but trust us, it works: try rubbing some catnip or a bit of valerian root on the scratching post. Many cats find these smells irresistible, and it’s a great way to get them initially interested.

Alternatively, you can use a toy to guide your cat’s claws towards the post, mimicking the scratching action.

Reward Good Behavior

When your cat does start scratching the post, show them some love. A warm praise or a delicious treat can do wonders. It reinforces the positive behavior, making them more likely to use the scratching post in the future.

Just remember to be patient and consistent – training doesn’t happen overnight.

No Scolding

Avoid shouting or scolding if they scratch elsewhere. It may create fear or confusion rather than understanding. Instead, calmly redirect them to the scratching post.

Be Patient

Keep in mind, every cat is different, and some might take a bit more convincing than others. If your cat isn’t taking to the scratching post right away, don’t get discouraged. Patience and persistence are key. Try moving the post slightly or reintroducing it using the above tips.

There you have it, a step-by-step guide to train your feline friend to give your furniture a break and fall in love with their new scratching post. It may take a bit of time, but it’s well worth the effort. Happy training!

Suggested reading: Teach Your Cat to Sit, to Meow or to Come When Called.

British shorthair cat using a scratching post

Where to Place the Scratching Post?

Choosing the right spot for your scratching post is crucial.

Ideally, it should be in a location where your cat spends a lot of their time. If they love lounging by the window, consider placing it there.

Cats also enjoy stretching and scratching after a nap, so next to their favorite sleeping spot can be another great location. Furthermore, if your cat has been targeting a particular piece of furniture, placing the post nearby can help redirect their attention.

Lastly, remember that visibility matters. Cats like to mark territory, and a scratching post tucked away in a corner might not serve this purpose for them.

Suggested read: How to Train a Cat To “Leave it”

What to Do If Your Cat Ignores the Post?

It can be frustrating when your cat seems to be giving the cold shoulder to the brand-new scratching post.

Smokey, my old and stubborn tomcat, was no different. I found that moving the post to his favorite sunbathing spot by the window sparked his curiosity. However, if location change doesn’t help, consider changing the post itself. Cats have preferences, too.

Some may prefer vertical posts, others horizontal surfaces. Some might favor carpet over sisal. Experiment with different textures and orientations.

The unique advice I’d give here, often overlooked, is the power of demonstration. That’s right – show your cat how to use the post. Gently take their paws and mimic the scratching motion; their curiosity may just do the rest.

Remember, patience is vital. With time, your cat will likely come around.

Here are more insights on how to get your cat to use a scratching post with the “cat daddy” Mr. Jackson Galaxy:

Just like how you can train your cat to use the scratching post, you can train your cat to come when called. It’s quite easy if you follow our steps outlined in that blog post, so check it out!

Looking to train your some commands? Here’s how to Train Your Cat to Meow, or to Sit or to Come When Called.


How long does it typically take to train a cat to use a scratching post?

Typically, training a cat to use a scratching post may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the cat’s personality and previous habits.

Is it possible to train an older cat to use a scratching post?

Absolutely, older cats can still learn to use a scratching post. It might require a bit more patience, but old felines can indeed learn new tricks!

Can I use treats to encourage my cat to use the scratching post?

Yes, treats can be an excellent motivator. Positive reinforcement, like giving a treat when your cat uses the post, can speed up the training process.

What if my cat prefers scratching on different textures?

If your cat prefers scratching different textures, it might be worth investing in multiple scratching posts or pads with various materials. Variety can be a big part of keeping your cat interested and satisfied with their scratching options.

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