We have several scratching posts around the house for our little cat, Misty. However, she does not use any of them and instead will scratch against the sofa and bed frame, causing damage to the fabric. Why does she not use the scratching posts, and how can I get her to use them?
Kim says: I am sorry to hear about Misty and her scratching inappropriate items within your house; I am sure this is very frustrating for you.
Scratching is a normal and natural feline behaviour. Cats need to scratch to keep their claws in good condition, to mark their territory, and to help stretch their muscles. However, because Misty is choosing to scratch your sofa in preference to the posts that you have provided, it would indicate that what you have given her is not fulﬁlling its purpose.
Often, scratching posts are too short, too unstable, and have unsuitable material, which leads to a cat ﬁnding an alternative and more suitable place to scratch — even if this is your sofa!
Ideally, Misty should be provided with a large, vertical scratching post — strong enough to withstand her weight and tall enough for her to stand on her hind legs at full stretch. Cats often use furniture for claw maintenance because they need a surface that will catch on their nails to pull off the old, loose sheath.
Try wrapping an old towel around the post, as this should give her something extra to dig her claws into. Cats often scratch after sleeping, so position the new scratching post near to where Misty likes to snooze. Some cats learn very quickly that scratching furniture can attract their owner’s attention, and, if this is the case, you mustn’t communicate with her in any way. Easier said than done, I know!
However, giving her any attention (whether positive or negative) will increase this undesired behaviour. Instead, reward her with treats and attention when you see her using a scratching post.
Kim Houston – BSc (Hons), Dip (AS) CABC, CCAB is a consultant in feline behaviour. She works with clients throughout the UK, helping to resolve cat behaviour problems. Find out more at www.cat-astrophes.com
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