Scratching is a normal feline behavior and cannot be prevented (even declawed cats will go through the motions!)Rather than trying to eliminate the behaviour, cat owner and cats can be much happier by agreeing on acceptable objects for scratching – enter the “Scratching Post.”

Why do they scratch?

It trims their nails and is part of their nail care. It’s also a marking behaviour – “This is my home and this is my toy.”Given that we want our cats to feel comfortable and want to spend time with us, then we need to let them “mark” their territory within our territory.

What makes a good scratching post?

First, it doesn’t have to be multileveled, with swinging toys, covered areas, or WIFI (that last one was in jest!). For the owners, you may want to consider size and colour, to fit within your home. Your cat really doesn’t care if the scratching post colour perfectly complements the wall paint.

Scratching post needs:

  • Tall – the post needs to be TALL enough for the cat to stretch out to its full length with the front paws extended.
  • Stable – if it rocks, your cat will be reluctant to use it.

Scratching post options:

Different cats may prefer different substrates: short pile carpet, sisal/rope, bark covered log nailed to sturdy base, even corrugated cardboard. If you cat is not enjoying the current scratching post ( and the encouragement methods below do not change the behaviour) it may be worthwhile to investigate a different substrate.

Multiple Cats may enjoy a multi-level kitty condo with combinations of materials. This is generally a very good investment and increases the vertical space too in multi-cat households.

Scratching Post Encouragement:

  • Encourage its use with catnip, dangling strings and sporadic treats
  • Interrupt scratching behavior on unacceptable surfaces with a water pistol or bean bag thrown NEAR, not at the cat while it’s in the act
  • If kitten persists, pick it up and carry to the post and make gentle scratching motions with its paws
  • Confine and supervise as necessary until your cat has learned that the scratching post is their only scratching option.
  • Consider a motion-activated electronic alarm if your couch continues to be at risk