Guide to Training Your Cat to Use a Scratch Post

Guide to Training Your Cat to Use a Scratch Post

Welcome to a comprehensive guide that delves into understanding and training your cat’s scratching behavior. Cat scratching is a natural and instinctive behavior that serves various purposes for our feline companions.

In this blog, we will explore the importance of providing a suitable outlet for scratching and offer a step-by-step guide to help you train your cat to use a scratch post effectively.

  1. How do I teach my cat to use the scratching post? To teach your cat to use a cat scratching post, follow these steps:
    • Placement: Place the scratching post in a location where your cat spends a lot of time. Cats often like to scratch after waking up, so near their sleeping area can be a good choice.
    • Attracting the Cat: Use catnip or a spray attractant on the scratching post to draw your cat’s attention.
    • Encourage Use: Gently place your cat near the post and use a feather toy or a string to encourage them to claw at the post. Praise and treat your cat when they use the post.
    • Discourage Unwanted Scratching: If your cat scratches furniture, cover the area with double-sided tape or aluminum foil to deter them, and redirect them to the scratching post.
    • Consistency: Be consistent with your encouragement and redirection. It may take time for your cat to form a habit of using the scratching post.
  2. Do scratching posts really work for cats? Yes, scratching posts can be very effective for cats. Scratching is a natural behavior for cats that helps them mark their territory, stretch their muscles, and maintain their claw health. A scratching post provides a designated area for this behavior, which can also help protect your furniture and carpets from damage.
  3. How do you show a cat to use a scratcher? Showing a cat to use a scratcher involves:
    • Leading by Example: Use your hands to mimic scratching motions on the post.
    • Using Toys: Entice your cat with toys around the post, so they claw at it during play.
    • Positive Reinforcement: Reward your cat with treats, petting, or verbal praise when they use the scratcher.
    • Avoid Forcing: Never force your cat’s paws against the scratcher, as this can create a negative association.
  4. Do cats know how to use a scratching post? Cats instinctively know how to scratch, but they may not automatically understand that a scratching post is an appropriate place to do this. It’s up to the pet owner to guide and encourage the cat to use the scratching post for this natural behavior. With proper encouragement and training, most cats will learn to use the post instead of furniture or other unwanted areas.

Understanding and addressing your cat’s scratching behavior is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it contributes to their physical health as scratching helps cats shed the outer sheaths of their claws, keeping them healthy and sharp.

Secondly, scratching serves as a means for cats to maintain their emotional well-being by relieving stress, marking their territory, and establishing comfort in their environment. Lastly, training your cat to use a scratch post can prevent damage to your furniture and belongings, providing a practical solution for both you and your cat.

Our primary goal is to provide you with a comprehensive guide that equips you with the knowledge and techniques to effectively train your cat to use a scratch post. We will delve into the reasons behind scratching behavior, guide you in selecting the right scratch post, and outline training techniques that encourage your cat to embrace this positive habit.

By the end of this blog, you’ll have the tools and understanding needed to manage your cat’s scratching behavior and provide them with a satisfying and healthy outlet for their instincts. Let’s embark on this journey together!

Understanding Cat Scratching

To effectively address your cat’s scratching behavior, it’s crucial to comprehend why cats scratch and the advantages it brings to their lives. Cats engage in scratching for various reasons, each serving a specific purpose. One primary reason is claw maintenance. Scratching assists cats in shedding the outer sheaths of their claws, ensuring they remain healthy and sharp for activities like climbing and hunting.

Additionally, scratching serves as a means of territorial marking. Cats possess scent glands in their paws, and scratching leaves both a visible mark and deposits their scent, marking their territory and communicating with other cats.

Scratching is also essential for stretching and exercise. It allows cats to flex their muscles, maintain their flexibility, and relieve tension. Moreover, cats may scratch when they experience excitement, anxiety, or stress. Scratching can act as a means to release pent-up emotions.

Recognizing the advantages of scratching enables you to appreciate its significance in your cat’s life. Firstly, scratching contributes to the maintenance of a cat’s claw health. Regular scratching prevents issues like overgrowth, splitting, or ingrown claws. Secondly, it enhances their emotional well-being by providing a sense of security and comfort in their environment. It’s a natural behavior that contributes to their mental and emotional well-being.

However, while scratching is a healthy and natural behavior, it can become destructive when directed towards furniture or other valuable items. Managing destructive scratching involves providing suitable alternatives, such as scratch posts and pads, that fulfill your cat’s need to scratch.

Training your cat to use designated scratching surfaces involves positive reinforcement and patience. Encouraging the right behavior is more effective than punishing the wrong one. Strategically placing scratch posts in areas where your cat prefers to scratch can help redirect their behavior.

By understanding the reasons behind cat scratching and appreciating its benefits, you can approach your cat’s scratching behavior with empathy and a commitment to providing suitable outlets for their natural instincts. In the following sections, we will delve into how to select the right scratch post and train your cat effectively.

Choosing the Right Scratch Post

Firstly, consider the size and sturdiness of the scratch post. It should be tall enough for your cat to fully stretch while scratching, as cats often prefer vertical posts that mimic stretching and claw maintenance. Ensure that the post is stable and won’t tip over when your cat uses it, as a wobbly post may deter them from scratching.

Secondly, pay attention to the material and texture of the scratch post. Cats have individual preferences for scratching surfaces, so choose a material that matches your cat’s preference. Common materials include sisal rope, cardboard, carpet, wood, and corrugated cardboard. Sisal and cardboard are popular choices as they provide an ideal texture for scratching and are durable.

Consider having multiple scratch posts throughout your home, especially if you have a large living space or multiple cats. Having posts in various locations increases the chances that your cat will use them.

Placement is key. Position scratch posts in areas where your cat spends a lot of time, such as near their sleeping area, as cats often scratch after waking up or stretching. You can also place scratch posts near items your cat has previously scratched inappropriately, like furniture or door frames, to redirect their behavior. If you have a multi-level home, having scratch posts on each level provides easy access for your cat.

Don’t forget to offer horizontal scratching options like scratching mats or pads, in addition to vertical scratch posts, as some cats prefer to scratch horizontally.

Experiment with different scratch post surfaces and textures to determine your cat’s preference. Cats can be picky, so having a variety of scratching options can be helpful.

Consider applying a cat-friendly scent or catnip to the scratch post initially to attract your cat to it.

Lastly, opt for scratch posts with replaceable parts, such as the scratching surface. This allows you to extend the post’s life and save money over time.

By carefully selecting a scratch post that suits your cat’s preferences and needs, you increase the likelihood that they will use it and redirect their scratching behavior away from furniture or other inappropriate surfaces. In the next sections, we will explore how to encourage your cat to use the chosen scratch post effectively through training and positive reinforcement.

Training Techniques for Effective Scratching Behavior

Start by introducing the scratch post in a location where your cat frequently scratches or spends time. Allow your cat to explore the scratch post at their own pace, as some cats may be curious and start scratching immediately, while others may need time to become familiar with it.

Use positive reinforcement to encourage your cat to scratch the post. When your cat approaches the scratch post or shows interest in it, offer praise, treats, or affection to make the experience rewarding for them.

To attract your cat to the scratch post, you can use cat-friendly scents or catnip. Applying these scents to the scratch post can make it more appealing to your cat.

Show your cat how to use the scratch post by gently running your own fingernails over the post to demonstrate the behavior.

Engage your cat in play near the scratch post. You can dangle a toy or use a feather wand to stimulate their interest in the post.

If your cat starts to scratch furniture or other inappropriate surfaces, gently guide them to the scratch post and offer positive reinforcement when they use it correctly.

Consistency is key in your training efforts. Offer positive reinforcement every time your cat uses the scratch post and gently discourage them from scratching inappropriate surfaces.

Training takes time and patience, so remember that cats may not change their behavior overnight. Remain persistent and consistent with your efforts.

Consider placing scratching pads or mats on furniture or other surfaces that your cat tends to scratch as a temporary deterrent. These mats have a similar texture to scratch posts.

Ensure you have scratch posts in different areas of your home to increase the likelihood that your cat will use them.

Regularly trim your cat’s claws to reduce the potential for damage if they do scratch furniture.

In the short term, use furniture protectors or double-sided tape to deter your cat from scratching specific items.

By following these training techniques and being consistent with positive reinforcement, you can effectively train your cat to use the scratch post for their scratching needs. Redirecting destructive scratching behavior to appropriate surfaces not only protects your furniture but also provides your cat with a healthy and fulfilling outlet for their natural instincts.

Maintaining a Positive Scratch Post Routine

Maintaining a positive scratch post routine is essential to ensure your cat continues to use the scratch post effectively. One key aspect of this routine is providing regular positive reinforcement. Whenever your cat uses the scratch post, offer praise, treats, or affection. Consistent positive reinforcement reinforces the habit and keeps it rewarding for your cat.

Another important consideration is providing a variety of scratch posts. Cats can become bored with the same scratch post over time. Consider having multiple scratch posts with different materials, textures, and heights. This variety keeps your cat engaged and interested in using the scratch posts.

Scratching posts can wear out over time, especially if your cat uses them frequently. It’s important to regularly replace worn-out posts or the scratching surface. When the post becomes frayed or damaged, replacing it maintains its appeal and functionality.

Keeping the scratch post clean is also crucial. Cats are more likely to use a clean scratch post. Remove any debris, loose fibers, or accumulated dirt from the post regularly to ensure it remains inviting to your cat.

To attract your cat to the scratch post, you can use cat-friendly scents or catnip. Reapplying these scents periodically can renew the post’s appeal, especially if your cat’s interest begins to wane.

Monitor your cat’s claws to ensure they are in good condition. If you notice excessive wear or overgrowth, trim their claws as needed. Proper claw maintenance helps your cat scratch effectively.

Consistency and patience are vital in maintaining a positive scratch post routine. Be consistent in your positive reinforcement and redirection efforts. Consistency helps reinforce the desired behavior. Additionally, be patient with your cat, especially if they have setbacks and start scratching furniture again. Continue training with positive reinforcement to guide them back to the scratch post.

It’s essential to be attentive to any changes in your cat’s behavior. If they start scratching furniture or other inappropriate surfaces again, address the issue promptly. Redirect them to the scratch post and provide positive reinforcement to encourage them to use it correctly.

Encourage play near the scratch post to keep your cat active and interested in the area. Provide a variety of toys to prevent boredom, which can reduce the temptation to scratch furniture out of frustration.

In conclusion, maintaining a positive scratch post routine requires ongoing effort and attention to your cat’s needs. By consistently reinforcing the desired behavior, keeping the scratch posts clean and appealing, and being patient and adaptable, you can ensure that your cat continues to use them effectively. This not only protects your furniture but also provides your cat with a healthy and fulfilling outlet for their natural instincts.


In conclusion, this comprehensive guide has provided valuable insights and strategies for effectively training your cat to use a scratch post. Understanding the reasons behind cat scratching, the benefits it offers, and the importance of addressing destructive scratching behavior is fundamental to this process.

When choosing the right scratch post, it’s essential to consider factors like size, material, placement, and variety to cater to your cat’s preferences. Providing them with an appealing and suitable scratching surface is key to success.

The step-by-step training process outlined in this guide emphasizes the use of positive reinforcement. Encouraging appropriate scratching behavior and redirecting any destructive tendencies is best achieved through patient and consistent training.

Maintaining a positive scratch post routine is crucial for long-term success. Continuing to offer positive reinforcement, keeping scratch posts clean, and ensuring consistency and patience throughout the training process will help your cat develop healthy scratching habits.

By following these principles and dedicating time and effort to scratch post training, you can ensure that your cat not only safeguards your furniture but also enjoys a positive outlet for their natural behavior. This contributes to a harmonious and scratch-free home and allows you to enjoy the companionship of a content and well-behaved feline friend.


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98% of orders of our ‘in-stock’ products are delivered within 3-5 working days of your order being placed with us. If your product does not arrive within this time period, we will send you some complimentary toys for you feline friend to play with!