Some cat behavior bothers us humans: sharpening claws on the sofa is part of it. But cats can learn where to scratch and where not to scratch. This is how you introduce your cat to a scratching post, board, or mat.
Sharpening claws is a must
A cat needs sharp claws. In order to be successful in both hunts and to survive, she must keep her weapons ready for action. And she achieves that by scratching. This behavior is given to her by nature because it is so important for the animals.
Cats that can go outside usually use wood to sharpen their claws: trees or fences have to be used for this. Scratching also releases some scent from the glands on the underside of the paws. This is how cats mark their territory.
Opportunity to live out
So the most important thing is that the cat has the opportunity to live out these needs in the apartment as well. If the cat doesn’t accept a scratching post and prefers to go to the sofa, first ask yourself why that could be. Some cats prefer to scratch horizontally, others prefer a certain material and still others cannot use the scratching post because it actually “belongs” to the other cat. Once you have questioned these possibilities, you can start teaching the cat what you want and what you don’t want.
That’s how you train a cat
The first step is to be clear about what you want and doesn’t want. It may turn out that it doesn’t bother you if the cat scratches the carpet in the bathroom, but you should definitely leave the sofa alone. When we know what we want to achieve, it’s easier for us to be consistent in parenting. Consistency in this case means: always intervening when we see that the cat is going to the sofa.
Praise the positive, correct the undesirable
The scratching post can be made tasty with a few favorite treats or catnip. Lay it out on it or feed it to the cat there. You can also rub down a new scratching post with a cloth that has been in the cat’s bed for a while. Praise any attempt to explore the scratching post.
If the cat goes back to the sofa instead, they clearly say “No”. This or a similar expression of displeasure is sufficient for most animals. The important thing is that they keep at it.
How to get there
Ultimately, it is important to be more stubborn than the cat. If you’re even faster, you can usually impress a cat. If she goes straight back to the sofa after the first no – and almost every cat will do that – you can already say no if she approaches the sofa with the clear intention of scratching, so to speak.
Do not take this reaction personally, but as a compliment: because basically the cat is communicating with you – asking if that’s what you meant. And hardly anything impresses a cat more than when you are more persistent than they are with great inner composure.