How to train your kitten to use a scratching post

Finding your brand new sofa has been clawed to shreds courtesy of your new kitten can be an incredibly frustrating and disheartening experience.

Often, our natural reaction is to tell them off for their naughty behaviour. However, it’s common for kittens to use their claws to mark what they feel is their territory and as a way of filing down their claws.

So, the best way to save your furniture from being ruined is to train your cat on how to use a scratching post. Petplan looks at how to train your kitten to scratch the pole instead of your sparkling new upholstery…

Finding the right post for your cat

There are different types of posts available, so it’s important to find the right one for your cat. For example, when choosing a vertical post, it must be tall enough for your cat to stretch up and still have room to scratch.

Some cats prefer horizontal posts, as they are most commonly placed on the floor, where your cat may be used to scratching, this is a good way to encourage them to use the scratching pad.

The different textures available can also make a difference, with some cats preferring a softer, cardboard-like material, while others favour a strong rope texture.

Scratching post training tips

The younger you begin training your kitten, the quicker and more likely they will use it. Cats often begin scratching after they are weaned, so this is a good time to introduce a scratching post.

  • Ensure the post is placed somewhere they are likely to use it, often close to where they nap is most effective.
  • Cats are easily spooked by new objects in their environment so allow your kitty to become accustomed to the post and discover it in their own time. Once they are comfortable, try enticing them over to the post with treats and then start raising treats above the post so they have to reach up and stretch to capture it and repeat this daily.
  • Hanging toys from the post can help your kitty feel more relaxed when climbing. It will also provide a scent which they are familiar with.
  • If they need a little more persuasion, you can try rubbing catnip or another type of cat-friendly plant extract onto the post. This could be anything from valerian, honeysuckle or cat thyme. The comforting smell will help the kitten to adjust.
  • If you spot your cat beginning to scratch the sofa or any other item of furniture, try to distract them and direct their attention towards the scratching post. Remember to keep rewarding your cat, either by using treats or praise every time they use the post whilst you are training them.

As with any training, persistence is key. Eventually your cat will get used to using the scratching post and it will become their first port of call when they want to mark their territory, or just file down their claws.

Are you training your cat to use a scratching post? Do you have any advice for anyone who is? Tell us on social media using the tag #PethoodStories.

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