Friday, November 19, 2010

Train Cat to Use Scratching Post

Scratching posts provide your cat with beneficial exercise. Encourage your cat to use their scratching posts and they will be healthier.

Training a cat to use a scratching post is not easy especially if the said cat is older and set in his ways. My cat Sam is a kitty that could do no wrong in my eyes.  He was diagnosed with feline leukemia  and I had intended on spoiling him for the rest of his short life.  I figured he had a year left before I would need to put him down.  I did not reinforce training Sam, I would say No to his destructive scratching but I did not follow through with being discipline with him. 

Sam tore up my sofa before scratching the bottom out of my Queen Anne chair and then moved on to the trim on the door.  Sam was loving life and I was paying the high costs for my sofa and chair to be upholstered.   

Sam went in for his wellness exam and my kitty’s immune system was able to fight off the feline leukemia virus and this meant that  Sam could live a longer and happy life with me.  It also meant that I needed to set up some house rules.

No would be the first word that Sam would learn.  He would also learn boundaries; where he could scratch and where he could not scratch.  

Sam did not react well to the house rules and he certainly did not like the word NO.  He would look at me in disbelief and then give me the sad eyes that always make my heart melt. But this time I did not fall for his kitty tricks, this time I stuck to the training guidelines and at first training Sam the house rules was hard because he liked to test me, but when I followed up on him and watched his every move, Sam began to think that house rules was a game and he was eager to please me.

Training Cats to Use Scratching Post

Sam would not allow anyone close to his nails so we could not trim them. I made an appointment from him to be groomed with a nail trim and when I dropped him off I told the pet groomer my concerns.  She noted that Sam was feisty and I worried about Sam with a stranger.  

To my surprise he was a very good boy and the groomer told me that Sam talked to her the entire time.  His nails were clipped and that has stopped his destructive scratching by 80%.  The remaining scratching I believe is due to a bad habit.
I introduced Sam to his scratching post but first I sprayed the post with catnip and set the post outside his cat house.  

I purchased another post and placed it in Sam’s play room.  The posts were in areas where Sam would frequent and they were easy access for him.  Sam’s initial reaction was to sniff the post and then he rubbed his entire body on them.  Sam liked the scratching post however he did not place his paws on the posts.

Sam preferred to scratch on the furniture and I needed to train him to use his scratching post.  Sam was reluctant at first and tested me by darting past me and running full speed to the trim on the kitchen door.  As soon as he would extend his paws to scratch on the wood I would say NO and then pick him up and carry him to the scratching post.  I would place his paws on the rope and tell Sam “good kitty, Sam is a good boy” and then I would give him a cat treat.

Scratching Post Tips

Training Sam to use his scratching post took 2 weeks.  Sam was a slow learner because he kept testing me, however in the end he realized that mommy was not nice when he would scratch on the furniture and mommy was nice and he got a treat when he scratched on the post.  He learned the negatives and the positives and now he and I have a closer bond.

For best results treat the scratching post with catnip daily and do not move the posts. Cats do not like change. If you move the scratching posts then your cat may regress back into destructive scratching.