Look, kitty – a new scratching post! What to do when the cat turns their whiskers up to their new accessories?

The courier rings, the package enters the living room, a grand unboxing of the new scratching post is about to happen, and the cat… sniffs the furniture and jumps into the box for a long, unplanned nap. Sounds familiar, fabCats? Facts can’t be denied – cats love boxes more than anything and will gladly accept another one into their collection. But what to do to make them fall in love just as much with the fresh new scratcher, without turning their whiskers up to it? We have a list of tried-and-true methods that have already changed many a cat’s perspective. Let’s get started!

Choose the Right Spot

When unboxing a new scratcher, you usually unpack it where you have space. For many cats, it doesn’t make much of a difference – opening the package piques their curiosity enough, so when the scratching post emerges from its cardboard palace, it immediately catches the cat’s attention. If it doesn’t, however, think about where your cat usually goes to scratch.

Good spots for a scratching post are always next to the couch, by the window, next to the bed, and at the entrances to key areas in the home (like the living room). The scratcher serves not only for the cat to stretch, sharpen their claws, and lounge, but also as a marker where they can leave their scent and mark their territory. Strategically important marking spots are naturally good choices for placing a scratching post – if one is missing within paw’s reach of the couch, the upholstery will surely feel the sharpness of a cat’s claw 🙂

If your cat likes napping on the scratcher, place it in a secluded spot. However, if the cat treats it as a private gym and crazy playground, choose a more accessible location for such activities. Don’t be afraid to experiment – sometimes you’ll try a few places before your cat purrs: “This is it!” Smaller models of scratching posts (e.g., TOBI or YODI) can also be placed on a desk, higher shelf, or windowsill – they make great observation points.

Enlist the Help of a Tasty Bribe

For treat-motivated cats, a bit of bribery never hurts. The goal is for the cat to develop positive associations with the new scratcher and know that focusing their energy on it pays off. Lead the cat to the scratching post by tempting them with a favorite treat. Reward the cat if they climb on, lie down, or scratch the post. Don’t overdo it with treats, but repeat the process regularly until you notice that the cat starts using the scratching post on their own, for their enjoyment.

The help of treats is especially useful when you want to redirect the cat’s attention from the couch to the scratching post. Every time the cat wants to scratch your furniture, you present the alternative of the scratcher and the cat makes the right choice, a reward is well deserved. You can read more about how to use treats in working with your cat on our blog: https://blog.mykotty.pl/en/2023/09/18/bribe-the-cat-how-to-use-treats-for-working-with-cats/ 

Be a Role Model

Cats love to satisfy their curiosity by watching everything their humans do. They observe us in the kitchen and bathroom, lay on the couch as soon as we get up, and walk across the keyboard as if they had a very important work email to write… the examples are endless. Use this when it comes time to convince your cat to their new scratching post. Just sit next to the piece (which in itself might intrigue the cat) and start scratching the cardboard with your nails. The cat will be interested in the sound you’re making and will often try to sink their claws into the cardboard to show you how it’s really done.

Invite the Cat for a Hunt

For their favorite toy, of course. Scratching posts, like other furniture and elements in your home, are an important part of a cat’s environment because they can serve as observation spots or hideouts during play and hunting. This is your chance. Grab a favorite feather, string, or any toy you use to engage in the full hunting cycle with your cat. Lead the toy onto the scratching post and let the cat catch it there. Once they sink their claws into the cardboard, they will be much more likely to do it again and again. For our team cat Tosia, one scratching post has served as a play element for so long that now she jumps on it and waits, letting us know it’s time for a little hunt.

Use the Power of Catnip and Aromatic Herbs

We don’t add any scents during the production of our myKotty scratchers, just to let your cats enjoy the pure magic of cardboard. And most cats love it! However, sometimes a kitty needs extra encouragement to sniff the scratching post for the first time and sink their claws into it. Using dried catnip or valerian is definitely a good solution. Be careful, though, fabCat: catnip affects every cat differently – some get excited, others fall asleep, and some might get irritated and discouraged. You know best how your furballs react to it and whether using it on the scratching post is a good or bad idea. Our fabCat advice is to use herbs sparingly and as a last resort – if other methods haven’t worked, it doesn’t hurt to try 🙂

And Remember: Sometimes Kitty Just Needs Time

From observing cat behavior over the years, we’ve learned that sometimes the most effective method of introducing a cat to new gadgets is patience. Cats generally fall into two categories: the curious and those who approach new things with some reservation. For the latter, time is your greatest ally. When the new scratching post is in its designated spot, and the cat can visit it without any pressure whenever they feel like it, they will. It might take a day, a week, or a month, but if you give the cat space (and experiment a bit with the placement of the scratching post), success is only a matter of time.

What methods would you add to this list, fabCats? Share your ideas in the comments – we want to hear them all!

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