Getting a cat to use his scratching post seems like an impossible task for many cat owners. Wherever they place it, the cat will always choose something else, such as a carpet, a couch, or a wall.
So do you have to be a fortune teller to know where your cat will want to scratch next time? No. It’s easy if you understand your cat’s habits and natural behavior.
Where does your cat want to scratch?
Scratching is more than just claw maintenance. It’s also exercise and a form of territory marking for cats, which means that placing the post in the farthest corner of your house will make it useless for your cat.
The best locations for scratching posts are where your cat would want them to be.
- Near places where your cat is scratching already. If you are reading this, your cat likely already has a favorite place (or several) to scratch. This eliminates the guessing because your cat is already telling you: “I want to scratch here, here, and here… and there too.” Thus, you must put a scratching post right next to, right on top of, or right in front of each of your cat’s favorite walls or pieces of furniture. This accomplishes two things: you will be providing a suitable scratching surface near where your cat wants it, and you will be physically blocking access to the unwanted object. If the location is not very appealing to you (for example, if it’s in the middle of the room or blocks the TV screen), move it to a more desirable location, inch by inch daily, after your cat starts using it.
- Near where your cat spends his time. You should have at least one scratching post in every room where your cat spends a considerable amount of time. It should also be near your cat’s activity locations. (By activity, we mean watching birds through a window, playing, and sleeping.) This is where cat trees become important because they are multi-purpose systems: bed, observation tower, and scratching post. Cats love to scratch when they wake up because doing so helps them stretch their limbs after a good nap. Sleeping on a cat tree ensures that a scratchable surface is readily available upon waking. On the contrary, if a cat sleeps on a couch, it’s very likely that he will sink his claws into that instead. In general, it’s best to have larger cat trees in rooms where your cat spends most of his time, and smaller posts, pads, and surfaces near other items.
- Near things that are valuable to you. If you get a new, very expensive sofa, you don’t really want your cat to scratch it, right? Place a scratching post (or, better yet, several) nearby. Rope, carpet, and wood found on cat trees are very attractive to cats (especially if you rub some catnip into them). That is what they are engineered for. They are more convenient to use when compared to “regular” furniture. Of course, you still might need to do some training; however, if your expensive piece of furniture has a scratching post nearby, your cat is likely to choose that first.
You should have as many cat scratching posts in your home as you can afford, both in terms of money and interior attractiveness. Besides, not all scratching posts are equally good. You can learn what makes a good scratching post here.
You will likely need at least one scratching post in each room, and several in the rooms where your cat is most active. If you do so, choosing the best location for them becomes less important because, according to probability theory, at least a few of them will be in the right places.
Photo by Arria Belli.