How To Get An Older Cat To Use A Scratching Post

Is it true that you can teach an old cat new tricks? How about getting her to use a scratching post? Is it too late or is there still hope that you can save your carpet and furniture from destruction? We asked the cat experts and here's what they said.

You can train your older cat not to scratch on your furniture by buying scratching posts made of materials that cats love to scratch on. Scratching posts must be tall and sturdy, too. Place them in strategic areas within your house and use positive reinforcement to encourage cats to use the scratching posts. Be more patient when training your senior cat to use these posts for scratching instead of your furniture.

Continue reading so that we can tell you more about how to train your older cat to use a scratching post. We'll also talk about scratching posts in detail such as their effectiveness in stopping your pet from scratching your furniture, if they can dull your cat's nails, and their best location inside your house.

A striped gray British cat sitting nearby scratching post, How To Get An Older Cat To Use A Scratching Post

Teaching Your Older Cat To Use A Scratching Post

Perhaps you've adopted an older cat and you want to teach her the basic rules inside your house. In particular, you want to train her not to scratch on your furniture. Don't worry because you can definitely teach her how to use a scratching post even at her age.

No cat is too old to learn anything new. But be prepared to spend a little bit more time training your senior cat. It takes a lot of practice and patience to get this done but with continuous positive reinforcement, you can have her scratching on those posts instead of your furniture in due time.

Can you train a cat not to scratch furniture?

Scratching is second nature to cats. It's part of their instinct. They scratch when they're excited and happy. They scratch when they're anxious and stressed out. They engage in this behavior when they want to show their affection but they also do this when they're being aggressive.

All this scratching is normal until it begins to get destructive. Scratching can ruin not just your favorite furniture but also your carpet, draperies, walls, and other parts of the house that cats constantly scratch with their sharp nails.

The good news is that it doesn't have to come to this or you can put a stop to their destructive behavior. You can train a cat, regardless of age, not to scratch your furniture. Here's how you do it:

  • You need to buy scratching posts and interactive toys for your furry friend. The kind of scratching post that you buy is crucial. It should be tall, sturdy, strong, and covered with sisal or carpet fabric that cats love to scratch.
  • Place the scratching posts in strategic locations within your house. These are the areas where your pet loves to hang out and in front of furniture that she likes to scratch.
  • Use interactive toys to introduce the scratching posts to your furball. Incorporate them in your playtime so that your pet would have a sensory experience of these posts.
  • When you've caught her interest in the scratching posts, encourage her behavior and give her treats to praise her behavior when she scratches on these items instead.
  • You can also sprinkle catnip on the scratching post or put some treats near the location to encourage your pet to use the post for scratching.
  • Meanwhile, make your furniture temporarily undesirable to scratch. You can cover it with a tight-fitting sheet or put double-sided tape on its legs. Cats don't like to scratch on sticky and smooth surfaces. You can also use a citrus spray since cats have a natural aversion to this smell.
  • When you catch her scratching your furniture again, make a loud noise to distract her.
  • Continue to praise and reward your cat for using the scratching post so that she can associate this behavior with something positive.

Be patient but firm when training your cat to use these posts. This applies to kittens and older cats alike. In time and with your proper guidance, your cat would know that your furniture is off-limits and it is more desirable to claw onto the scratching posts.

Do scratching posts really work for cats?

Close up of a household cat using a scratching post

Scratching posts have been proven to work for felines who always have the urge to scratch. This cat-specific furniture is an acceptable alternative scratching material for our furry friends. The other option is the furniture in your home which we can all agree is inappropriate to scratch on.

Scratching posts give felines a proper outlet for their scratching behavior which comes so naturally for them. When you've trained your cat to use this product, you can save your home furniture from this potentially destructive behavior.

However, you have to choose your scratching post carefully so that it can be effective on your senior cat. It should be made of materials that your furry pet would love to scratch.

Scratching posts can be covered in sisal fabric, carpet material, or be made of corrugated cardboard. They should be stable and sturdy so that they won't wobble when used. These posts should also be tall enough to allow your older feline friend to stretch her entire body.

Most of all, the scratching posts need to be positioned in places that are easily accessible to your cat so that she can use them whenever she feels the urge to scratch.

Taking all of these factors into consideration would help make the use of these posts effective for your older feline pet.

Click this link to find this tall scratching post on Amazon.

Where is the best place to put a cat scratching post?

A domestic cat enjoying his time with his scratching post

When training your cat to use a scratching post, location is everything. As mentioned earlier, you need to place these posts in strategic places in your home.

In particular, these places should meet the following criteria:

  • Your cat loves to hang out in this area. It could be in the living room, by the window, or next to her sleeping area.
  • It is near the furniture or other areas of the house that your pet loves to scratch. When she's tempted to scratch on the furniture, there's a more acceptable alternative right next to it.
  • It is in a prominent area. Cats love to show off and mark their territory. They cannot do this when you tuck the scratching post in the basement or other unused portions of the house.

This means you have to invest in two or more posts but they'll be worth it because they'll keep your older cat away from your prized furniture. Make sure that the scratching posts are readily accessible to your pet so she can use them whenever she feels the need to scratch.

Will a scratching post dull cat's nails?

Spotted domestic cat sharpening claws on a scratching post

Cats' nails aren't like our nails nor those of their canine brothers. For starters, they have retractable nails. This means that their claws can be hidden when they don't need them but they're ready for action when the need arises.

They need their claws or nails for hunting and climbing trees, just like their ancestors used to back when they lived in the wild. They also use their claws to protect themselves from larger predators. That's why they need to have sharp nails all the time.

Cats' nails are also tough and made of layers. They shed over time but their new nails will be as sharp as they need them to be.

A scratching post will not help dull your pet's nails. On the contrary, scratching on these posts will help them file their nails to shed the outer layer and expose a sharper nail underneath the old layer.

If you want to make your cat's nails duller, you can cut her nails using clippers specifically designed for cats. You can also ask your vet or cat groomer to do it for you if you're not comfortable cutting your pet's nails.

Check out this cat nail clipper on Amazon.

Final Thoughts

Invest in multiple scratching posts and place them in different areas of the house where your older cat loves to hang out. With the help of treats, a lot of praise, and more patience and understanding, you can guide your cat to use these posts for scratching as time goes by.

You may visit the following links to know more about cats and their scratching posts:

Does A Scratching Post Dull A Cat’s Nails?

How Often Do Cats Use The Scratching Post?

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