What Can You Do to Get Your Cat to Scratch Their Scratching Post Instead of Your Furniture?

Watching your cat paw at your beautiful new couch or an antique end table is nothing short of frustrating, but there are ways to correct this behavior.

For as much as we love our cats, we don't love all of their behaviors. Case in point? There's truly nothing more frustrating than watching them scratch at our furniture when their own scratching post is mere steps away. But what can you do to correct and redirect this behavior?

First, make sure the structure of the scratching post isn't wobbly; if you find that it is, stabilize it on a more level surface. "If it sways when she jumps on, she may not use it," says Katherine Houpt, professor emeritus of behavior medicine at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

cat on top of scratchpost
Kirsten Francis

Location is important, too. Since scratching is a marking behavior, cats like to do it in prominent places, says Houpt. Set your post in a prime spot—say, by the sofa—and Zelda can claim her own territory without destroying yours.

If you've done all of this and she's still not feeling it, all is not lost. One good option is to try luring her on with a wand toy. "Guide her up till she really gets her claws in," says Jennifer Van de Kieft, a certified cat-behavior consultant in New York City. And if you need to go one step further, you can also rub the post with a proven attractant, such as catnip or silvervine, to make it that much more appealing.

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