Training Your Cat to Use the Scratching Post
Excerpt from Think Like a Cat by Pam-Johnson Bennett
Scratching, for a kitten, is actually a means of climbing to higher ground. To a new cat owner, it may appear that you kitten has Velcro paws, as you watch him scale furniture, drapes, beds, and the clothes hanging in the closets. Take a deep breath and be patient. This phase will pass. Even though you kitten may do nothing with the post other than climb up and over the top, very soon he'll discover scratching behavior and you'll want to be ready.
The training method is the same for a kitten or an adult cat: make it a game. Dangle a peacock feather or other enticing toy right next to the post. As you cat goes for the toy, he'll feel the irresitible texture of the post. With your own nails, gently scratch up and down the post. Often, that scratching sound can inspire him to join in.
If your cat doesn't have a clue about what to do with the post, lay it on its side and dangle the toy all around it . As he jumps on thepsot or paws at the toy, he'll discover the texture. He may then begin scratching the post in earnest. Once he has discovered its true purpose, you can stand the post upright again.
Never force your cat to scratch by taking his paws and putting them on the post. No matter how gently you do it, your cat won't like the experience and it'll just cause confusion. His attention will be focused on getting out of your grasp and you'll have done nothing but create a negative association with the post.
Make the games around the scratching post a regularly scheduled event for a kitten.
Keep your training methods consistent so you don't confuse your kitten. Don't drag the toy under fabrics such as comforters, clothing, or behind drapes. That could encourage him to scratch there as he claws at the toy. Don't run the toy up and along upholstered furniture. That will cause your kitten to extend his claws and climb. Never send mixed messages.
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