How To Get A Cat To Use A Scratching Post If It Refuses To

Scratching is a necessary function in cat culture. It helps them communicate, stretch, and is good for their overall well-being.

You’ve probably realized this and bought your cat a nice cat tree or scratching post. But what happens when your cat doesn’t use the piece of cat furniture that you spent so much time to pick out?

When you put your heart and soul into making your fur baby happy, it kind of stings when she or he shows little to no interest in it. Let me help lessen your load.

I’m going to show you how to get a cat to use a scratching post even if it refuses to. Bear in mind that these tips are not medical advice or meant to replace anything your vet might recommend you.

The most important thing is to understand your cat. This will help you begin to formulate reasons why your cat might not be using the scratching post that you got for it.

You will likely also think of other options or add-ons that might help your cat to feel more comfortable with using its scratching post.

Why do cats scratch?

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Cats communicate using scent

Cats have scent glands on their paws. They also produce a uniquely scented sweat from the pads of their feet.

Scratching leaves these scents on the surfaces they scratch. Cats read the smells around them as a form of communication.

They communicate by marking their territories using scents which notifies other cats that they are around. Scent marking their territory also communicates when they were last there and gives the cat a sense of safety and security.

Most cats prefer tall vertical surfaces for scent marking as this maximizes the scent signal for other cats. They like to scent mark around nose height, so it is important that you give them scratch surfaces that are that high.

Entrances and exits are a cat’s favorite scent marking spots as other cats are likely to use these spots to enter the territory.

Solution

Placing scratching surfaces near entrances and exits is ideal. Try to avoid putting the cat tree in the center of the floor.

While this might help your cat to see what it is, in the grand scheme of your cat’s psychology, it is a no go.

Scratching Is A Good Stretching Exercise For Them

Cats also engage in scratching activity as a means of stretching their muscles. Cats feel nice when their back and leg muscles stretch as they scratch.

A cat feels just as good as we feel when we stretch after sleeping or sitting for a long time.

Solution

Get a tall scratching post or a cat tree instead of a piece of cardboard on the floor. This is why a lot of cheap cat scratching products don’t work.

Not only are they poor quality but they tend to be too short in both length and width. Do your cat a favor and get it the best cat climbing structure you can find even if you have to save up for it.

You will be saving yourself money and unnecessary stress big time in the long run.

For Fun And Stress Relief

Cats get a pleasant sensation under their paws when they scratch certain surfaces. They will, therefore, seek to scratch surfaces that will make them get the nice sensation.

Scratching is also a stress relieving activity for cats, and it is, therefore, a necessary activity for these pets. Some cats will shred pieces of furniture or rugs trying to feel nice under their paws and also for stress relief.

Solution

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Take note of what kind of surfaces your cat likes to scratch and find a surface with a similar texture. Most cats prefer natural materials to synthetic so be sure to keep this simple fact in mind.

Even if your cat tends to scratch on synthetic materials, it might do so because natural materials are not available. Sometimes even what we think are made naturally are actually syntheic.

Just a little tip I thought I would mention because it gets me ALL the time!

Learn How To Get A Cat To Use A Scratching Post

Place The Scratching Posts In Optimal Places

It is important that you place the scratching posts where the cat can use them optimally as territory markers. Place the posts where the cat will derive maximum value including near entrances and exits such as windows.

Placing a post in front of objects that your cat likes to scratch is also recommended.

Placing scratching posts in hidden or out-of-the-way places will make her not want to use them. It is likely to ignore any scratching posts that are placed in such places.

Position The Scratching Posts The Way Your Cat Prefers It

Ensure that your cat’s scratch posts are placed in the way your cat would prefer.

For example, if you notice that your cat likes to scratch vertical surfaces,
place the posts vertically

Your cat may not be using its scratching posts because they are positioned in an undesired manner.

Make Use Of Your Cat’s Favorite Napping Spots

Cats like to scratch immediately after waking up. They do this to stretch their muscle.

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Placing a scratching post near her favorite napping spots will increase the chances of your cat using the scratching post.

Discourage Your Cat From Scratching Other Surfaces

You can get your cat to use her scratching post by making the other surfaces that she likes to scratch unappealing.

If she likes to scratch furniture, consider using tin foil or double-sided sticky tape to wrap the parts of the furniture she likes to scratch. Cats hate scratching tin foil or sticky surfaces so it will discourage them from scratching.

If your cat doesn’t like scratching rugs, consider covering the parts of the furniture she likes to scratch with rugs.

You may also let your cat know that you don’t like it when she scratches certain surfaces. This can be done by clapping your hands loudly when you catch her scratching the wrong surfaces.

Never yell or throw objects at your cat. It makes my skin crawl when I hear people say they do that.

Would YOU like to be treated this way? How would that make your feel?

Likely not good and it will lower your self-esteem. Your cat is the same way and not to mention this sort of behavior is abusive which IS NOT supported here.

Once you interrupt the behavior by clapping your hands, pick her up and take her to the scratching post. While on this, make sure you don’t scare her or punish her physically for her undesired behavior.

Also be patient with your cat. Remember that ultimately this is a learning process and learning takes time.

Let your cat know that you are supportive of its natural behavior. Encourage it to find better places to scratch.

They might not be able to speak in words but they can learn to understand you. They also understand emotion and you will be surprised how far a little empathy and care will go especially in these sorts of situations.

Make The Scratching Post More Appealing

You can use your cat’s own scent or catnip to make the scratching posts more appealing to him/her. You can also encourage the cat to use the scratching post by gently rubbing her paws on the post.

Doing so also leaves her scent on the post which makes it more likely for her to use it. Give her verbal praise while at it as a form of encouragement.

Rubbing some catnip onto the post will draw your cat’s attention to it.

Use Tall Scratching Posts or Cat Tree

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Cats like tall scratching posts. They like to scratch on posts that allow them to reach high up while scratching and stretching.

The scratching post should be tall enough to allow your cat to stretch fully. Your cat may not use her cat tree if it is too short. However, it is important to note that some cats like to scratch horizontal surfaces.

Always work with what your cat likes.

Ensure That The Scratching Post Is Stable

An unstable scratching post will make your cat insecure and may, therefore, refuse to use the post. To avoid this, ensure that the scratching post has a firm base such that it doesn’t move or shift as your cat scratches.

You may also try fixing the scratching post to a surface for maximum stability. Scratching posts that lean against walls or hang on walls are unpopular among most cats.

Go With Your Cat’s Texture Of Choice

With scratching surfaces, getting the right texture is crucial. Different cats like different textures and you can learn your cat’s favorite texture by observing the surfaces she likes to scratch.

If you are not certain of what texture your cat likes, a relatively thick rope wound around a strong stand would be a good scratching post to start with. Use natural rope.

Avoid ropes made of plastic or artificial fibers – these materials are prone to creating static electricity which makes your cat uncomfortable.

Corrugated cardboard and cloth are also favorites among cats though they might not last as long as a scratching post, cat tree or other cat furniture.

Get Multiple Scratching Posts

Most cats like to scratch in multiple spots. With multiple posts, your cat will always have a scratching post nearby wherever she is.

If you have more than one cat, you need the multiple posts even more. Since cats like to mark their territory with their scent, they also don’t like to use things with other cat’s scents on them.

This is just the beginning of the discussion about How To Get A Cat To Use A Scratching Post. You might know other tricks that I haven’t mentioned here. If you do, we’d love for you to share them in the comments box below this post.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to use the comments area as well. I will be happy to help if I can.

If you’re ready to figure out what scratching furniture is best for your cat, click the link below to get started. We’re going to be discussing how your cat’s size, personality, breed and showing you your best options.

Click Here To Learn More About Choosing The Best Scratching Posts for Your Cat!!

8 thoughts on “How To Get A Cat To Use A Scratching Post If It Refuses To

  • May 2, 2019 at 8:26 pm
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    Hello, 

    I really appreciate your time and effort to share with us How To Get A Cat To Use A Scratching Post which is something I’ve been trying to get my cat to do for a while now.

    The way you laid it out is perfect. I really love these tips you put out, especially the one about putting these posts near the entrances and exits. 

    My sister has a cat and she places the post near the front door where we put our shoes, I never wondered why she put it there but now I do. 

    I’ll also try buying multiple posts as well. Thanks for the article.

    Reply
    • May 21, 2019 at 1:35 pm
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      Hey Son,

      I’m glad you found value in this information and took some actionable tips away with you. I hope that you can work with your cats to get them to use their scratching posts.

      On that note, I find that cats prefer cat trees because it appeals more to their senses than a simple scratching post. If you want, you can look at these great cat tree choices that are designed with multiple cat use in mind.

      >Click Here To See The Best Cat Trees for Multiple Cats

      Reply
  • May 2, 2019 at 8:36 pm
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    What a great article on helping to teach your cat to use a scratching post! I have two cats myself and am a vet tech. 

    I’ve learned of all these tips except I’ve never heard of placing them near an exit or entrance! 

    Thank you for stressing not to yell or throw things at a cat. Animals don’t appreciate that and it does not help the situation. 

    I think this article is great and those with kitties will find it very helpful!

    Reply
    • May 5, 2019 at 12:57 am
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      Hey Sherry!

      I’m glad you found value in this info and thanks for your feedback. I also hope that others find it helpful 🙂

      Take care,

      Marlinda

      Reply
  • May 2, 2019 at 8:37 pm
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    My sister in law recently got two cats and she’s struggling to get them to use a scratching post… furthermore they’re actually scratching her couch and chair yikes…

    From reading your article I assume the best place for my sister in law to place the scratching post would be by the door into her apartment? or would it be ideal to put it by the deck to the sliding door since that’s where the chair one of them scratches is.

    Another idea I think I’ll pass on is the idea of tin foil, I wonder if it’s the sound they don’t like from scratching it?… anyway should she just use some type of tape to hold the foil in place?

    Look forward to hearing your responses, and hopefully, this will help my sister in law out 🙂

    Reply
    • May 2, 2019 at 10:21 pm
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      Hey Josh,

      I’m glad you found this post helpful. Thanks for your questions and sharing about your sister in-law’s cats.

      Since she has two cats, she should have more than one cat tree. My recommendation is that she puts one at both locations.

      If she is looking for some suggestions, here are some resources she can take a look at:

      Best Cat Trees For Small Apartments

      Best Quality Cat Trees of 2019

      Best Cat Climbing Structures for ALL Cats

      As for the tin foil, she can secure it with tape if she wants to but be aware that it might peel the wall paper/paint or whatever is coating the walls. You could also tack it up but that will leave a small hole in the wall.

      Another idea is to pinch it in the door when it closes.

      It’s a bit of both why cats don’t like tin foil. The noise and the feel are big turn-offs for them.

      Hope this helps! 🙂

      Marlinda

      Reply
  • May 5, 2019 at 10:04 am
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    Hi, 

    So much that I did not know about cats. And you say that this barely scratches the surface. All I can say is wow!

    I really recommend this article to any cat lover. It gives so many tips and has taught me a lot. 

    As I am A new cat owner this post has taught me a lot of where to place scratching post and how to discourage unwanted scratching spots. 

    I really appreciate this post and will be looking for more in the future.

    Thank You,

    George

    Reply
    • May 21, 2019 at 1:38 pm
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      Hey George!

      Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you found lots of value from this information. I hope that you can create a balanced environment for you and your cat.

      If you need more help, check out our Cat Climbing Structures Guide and comment your questions if you have any.

      Take care!

      Marlinda

      Reply

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