Training Your Cat to Use the Scratching Post
Scratching, for a kitten, is actually a means of climbing to higher ground. To a new cat owner, it may appear that your kitten has Velcro paws, as you watch him scale furniture, drapes, beds, and the clothes hanging in the closets. Take a deep breath and be patient. This phase will pass. Even though your kitten may do nothing with the post other than climb up and over the top, very soon he’ll discover scratching behavior and you’ll want to be ready. The training method is the same for a kitten or an adult cat: make it a game. Dangle a peacock feather or other enticing toy right next to the post.
Read more : Choosing the Right Scratching Post
As your cat goes for the toy he’ll feel the irresistible texture of the post. With your own nails, gently scratch up and down the post. Often, that scratching sound can inspire him to join in. If your cat doesn’t have a clue about what to do with the post, lay it on its side and dangle the toy all around it. As he jumps on the post or paws at the toy, he’ll discover the texture. He may then begin scratching the post in earnest. Once he has discovered its true purpose, you can stand the post upright again.
Never force your cat to scratch by taking his paws and putting them on the post. No matter how gently you do it, your cat won’t like the experience and it’ll just cause confusion. His attention will be focused on getting out of your grasp and you’ll have done nothing but create a negative association with the post. Make the games around the scratching post a regularly scheduled event for a kitten.
Keep your training methods consistent so you don’t confuse your kitten. Don’t drag the toy under fabrics such as comforters, clothing, or behind drapes. That could encourage him to scratch there as he claws at the toy. Don’t run the toy up and along upholstered furniture. That will cause your kitten to extend his claws and climb. Never send mixed messages.
Retraining a Cat to the Post After He Has Discovered
Your Furniture It can be done. First, though, you must have the right kind of post. Make sure you’ve followed my instructions and purchased or constructed an appropriate one. If you already have a post in your home that has sat for years gathering dust, don’t even attempt to retrain your cat to it, unless it’s tall and sturdy, in which case you may try recovering it with a better material.
Chances are, though, you should probably just get rid of the relic. Next, look at the areas where he’s currently scratching. If it’s the sofa or chair, you’ll have to make it unappealing. If the scratched area of the furniture is limited to certain sections, lay strips of Sticky Paws (a double-sided transparent tape made especially for this purpose) across them. Plain masking tape can leave a residue behind. According to the manufacturer, Sticky Paws has an acrylic base so it won’t leave any reside when removed from the furniture. The product is also water-soluble. Don’t use on leather or vinyl, though, and don’t keep Sticky Paws on upholstery indefinitely. If the cat has been working on the entire chair, cover it with a sheet.
Carefully tuck it all around and tape the bottom so he can’t climb up underneath it. Place strips of Sticky Paws at several locations. If you need to cover large areas of your upholstery, Sticky Paws also comes in extra-large strips. Now you’ve turned this great scratching surface into an unacceptable one. The next step is to put the new post next to the covered furniture. That way, when he goes over for his routine scratch and realizes his usual spot has disappeared, he’ll discover something even better. You can further entice him by using a toy around the post to get his attention.
Also, rub the post with catnip to ensure his approval (adult cats only). If you catch your cat attempting to scratch the furniture during retraining, don’t punish, hit, or yell at him. Increase the amount of double-sided tape. You can even attach pieces of plastic carpet protectors over the top (nubby side out). Keep the furniture covered until your cat has been using the post routinely and no longer attempts to get at the furniture. Then gradually move the post over to where you want it permanently located. I recommend that you keep it relatively close to the same area, though, to remind him.
When you feel he’s retrained and goes right for the post without so much as looking at the furniture, go ahead and remove the sheet or double-sided tape.
If your cat is scratching by the front door or around entrances to rooms, it may have more to do with marking than nail maintenance. Put a scratching post near the doorway and cover the scratched area with Sticky Paws. In narrow hallways or anywhere else it would be impossible to put a post, use sisal covered pads that can be attached to the wall or a doorknob. You can find them in many pet supply stores and online. You can even make your own. Once you have your post(s) in place, you can monitor how successful it is by looking at the base.
If your cat is using it, you should probably begin to see small crescent-shaped nail sheaths there. Once a week during retraining, rub a little catnip on the post as a little hint (adult cats only). When retraining is complete, use catnip on the post periodically as a treat.