Kitty Kare Korner Nails/Scratching

Get Your Cats to Scratch Appropriate Objects

Everything you need to know about cat scratchers.

I know, scratching is frustrating.

It’s one of the top complaints of cat owners. Hopefully, these tips below help you find the purrfect scratching solution (see what I did there) for your kitty, so you both can be happier,

Why do cats scratch?

Spread their scent. They sweat through their paw pads, so the act of scratching puts a little of their scent (or sweat) on the stuff they scratch. Yummy.
• I’ve heard people say that they do it to sharpen their nails, but it’s actually more to shed the dead pieces of their nails.
Instinct, for the reasons above, but I also think it’s like stretching for them. It’s something they do that makes them feel good.

Tip 1: Direction Matters

Some cats are horizontal scratchers, while others are vertical, and some are even both. If you don’t know what your cat prefers, make sure you have both options.

Sauder cat tree
This Sauder cat tree has horizontal and vertical scratching options. You can see my cats use both. I love it because it looks like a regular piece of furniture, and most people don’t notice it’s for the cats.

Check out my review of the Sauder cat tower.

Tip 2: Material Matters

Some like rope. Some like carpet. For me …

Corrugated box scratchers saved my furniture.

My cats and fosters LOVE them. PLUS, most are inexpensive and last a while. They are often double-sided, so you can flip them over when one side is overused.

Where to buy: Target, PetSmart, T.J. Maxx, Marshal’s, Ross or on Amazon … really anywhere that carries pet products.

Tip 3: Sprinkle or Spray a Lil’ Somethin’ Somethin’

Entice kitties to use scratchers by rubbing catnip on all parts of the scratcher and/or spraying Feliway, which contains calming pheromones that helps some cats relax.

Tip 4: Variety Is the Spice of Saving Your Furniture

Try posts with rope or toys attached.

Use cat trees, which usually have a mix of rope and carpet.

Get those cool wavy loungers.

Try it all until you hit on something that your cat likes.

Tip 5: You scratch, I scratch.

If one cat scratches something, another one will too. Why? Scent.

Have a friend with a cat? Swap scratchers! The scent of the other cat could be enough to make yours compete for ownership of the almighty scratcher. It’s always a competition to say, “This is mine.” “Well, it’s mine too.” “And mine!”

Scratching post for cats.
No one used this for a while. One day Beaker decided to try it out. Since then, nearly ever foster has scratched it too.

Tip 6: Make Scratchers Where All Good Things Happen

Feed on scratcher.
Give treats on scratcher.
Place water bowl on scratcher.
Put toys on scratcher.
Play on scratcher.

Make scratchers part of every interaction. If he turns to your furniture, calmly pick them up, and put him on the scratcher.

Other tricks:

Trim all nails once every 2 weeks; if this isn’t an option, you can try nail caps, though trimming nails is always ideal.
• Put double-sided tape on corners of furniture.
• Try not to yell – they don’t know what you’re yelling about. You can try clapping your hands once really loud, which usually grabs their attention and makes them stop.
• Keep your anxiety down – cats sense energy levels, and if all you do is worry about them scratching your furniture, your anxiety will drive them to do it.

By LizsKittyBootCamp

Hi, I'm Liz, and I'm a cat behaviorist who provides advice and insights on cat behavior.

5 replies on “Get Your Cats to Scratch Appropriate Objects”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.