How to Train Your Cat to Use a Scratching Post to Sharpen His Claws

When a cat scratches his claws, he is not being wilfully destructive. He is sloughing off the dead outer husks and maintaining the claws’ sharp points. It is also a means for the cat of stretching and exercising his muscles, particularly when he wakes after a deep sleep. Scratching is also a territorial marking function; a marking scent is released from the glands in your cat’s paws.

Equipment: There are many sophisticated scratching posts on the market including branches covered with leaves, pagodas, and carpeted tubes. Some of these can be quite expensive and, in some cases, cats can reject scratching posts if the surface is not sufficiently rough. A good-sized log can also be used; the external bark should be soft and moist so that it does not splinter or crumble.

Training Objective: To ensure that your cat uses a scratching post rather than your furniture to sharpen his claws.

Training Steps

  • Position the scratching post in a place that is easily accessible, or where the cat has already started to sharpen his claws.
  • Take him to the post, lift his front paws and gently place them on the rope, carpeted or wood surface. Some cats instinctively dig their claws into the post and scratch. Reward your cat with his favourite treat.
  • If your cat does not begin to scratch, gently press his paws to extend his claws and hook them into the surface of his post. Praise him and offer a food reward.
  • If your cat is still reticent in using his scratching post, lightly sprinkle the post with a dusting of catnip – this is one of the few times this mind-bending herb can be used as an aid to training. When buying dried catnip, buy a green herb. If it is white, or dry and dark in colour, it may be old stock.
  • Attach a dangling toy or feathers to the post, or wave a toy or feather in front of the post so that your cat’s claws will sink into it as he tries to grab the toy. Do this two or three times to reinforce the training.
  • Encourage movement up or down the post by making your cat chase the toy.

Filed Under: Pets & Animals


About the Author: Fred Goodson has a passion for pets and animals. He has 4 dogs and is planning to have another one. He is also a blogger who writes about pets and animals. Currently, he is living in New Jersey.

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