Kitty loves to scratch, but how do we teach our cats to use the scratching post instead of the furniture?

Orange tabby scratching chair

Yelling at the cat and punishing him won't work when it comes to destructive scratching. You have to use motivations that mean something to the cat. And you have to teach him where to scratch. Otherwise, how is he to know you want him to scratch the scratching post? Here are tips from KB, one of our readers, on how they've managed to keep their favorite feline in check.

Use the cat's favorite treats, a scratching post, a squirt bottle and some wide, double-sided sticky tape.

  • The tape goes on the spots where the cat prefers to scratch, and the sticky feel discourages scratching. I begin training by rubbing their paws on the scratching post, so their paw-scent is left on it. I immediately give the cat a treat for having his paws on the post. Usually it takes only a few tries for the cat to get the message that scratching the post would get food — a reward all cats understand. My oldest cat still goes through an evening routine where he trots up to the post, scratches it, and looks at me with a "Well, where's my treat?" expression. He also scratches and stares at me when he knows it's dinnertime.
  • The squirt bottle is for when I catch them scratching elsewhere. One brief squirt is all it takes to convince them to stop. Then I can redirect their attention to scratching the post.