How to get your cat to use a scratcher, not furniture

Educating Your Cat to Respect Your Furniture

It can be challenging to teach a cat to respect your chairs, sofas, and other furniture in the house. Some cats naturally gravitate towards using a scratcher, using it multiple times a day to stretch, polish their nails, and engage in movements that make them feel good. However, not all cats or their owners are this fortunate. So, what can you do when a cat resists using the scratching post?

Understanding Your Cat's Needs

The key to living harmoniously with a cat is understanding how to educate them for a more compatible coexistence. This process requires patience and perseverance. We cannot expect animals to be perfect companions as soon as they enter our homes.

All cats have a need for a hard, high, and usually vertical space in which to stretch their muscles and scratch their nails. This behavior is their way of leaving visual and olfactory cues, or in other words, marking their territory.

When cats scratch, they seek an object with optimal firmness and texture. These two aspects are essential for them to properly mark with their nails. It allows them to scratch the object well and file their nails, producing a lot of relaxation. If the object is not well fixed to the ground and the texture is not rough, they will not be able to mark because the nail will not be able to scratch hard and will not achieve its goal.

Tips and Tricks for Your Cat to Use the Scratcher

  • Start as soon as possible. Young cats are the fastest learners, making it much easier for kittens to get used to using the scratching post than when they are adults.

  • Choose the right place for it. By placing the cat scratcher next to their favorite furniture, they will be attracted by the smell while being more visible.

  • Cover the furniture. Cover them with some sheets, old blankets, or other material that discourages scratching them. This combined with placing the scratcher nearby will redirect their attention to it.

  • Attract your cat’s attention. A ball, feather, or toy mouse hanging from the scratching post can attract your pet's attention and encourage them to come closer. Another tip would be to put some catnip on the scratching post for extra stimulation.

  • Reward your cat. One way for your cat to understand that using the scratching post is good behavior is to reward your cat every time it uses it. This will encourage it to keep using it.

  • Use it in front of your cat. Leading by example can be another strategy. Some cats will acknowledge what you are doing and replicate it afterwards.

  • Get a different scratcher. If none of the above tricks work for you, it may be the material or shape of the scratching post that keeps your cat from going near it. In that case, try changing the cat scratcher for a totally different one.