Is your cat scratching your favorite chair or couch? Or perhaps you’ve just got a new cat and you want to make sure to start her off on the right foot by using a scratch post. There are also always those stubborn cats who don’t seem to want to use a scratching post no matter what you try. Either way, we’ve got you covered with some tips and tricks on training cats to use their posts, to help give you peace of mind and save your furniture. The two main aspects of scratch post training are the characteristics of the post itself, as well as positive behavioral association techniques.

What Makes a Good Post?

What to Look for in a Scratch Post

The first consideration in scratch post training is choosing the right post. What makes a post right for your cat? Here are some general rules. If you are using a vertical post, make sure it is very sturdy and won’t budge when your cat uses it. If they don’t feel safe using their post even once, chances are high that your cat won’t use it again. So, select a post that you can either secure to the floor or is heavy enough on its own to stand solid no matter how your cat chooses to use it.

Another important consideration for vertical posts is height. One reason that cats enjoy scratching is to stretch their spines, which is why you often see cats scratching while they are standing up on their back legs, with their front paws raised above their head. As a result, make sure the post you select is more than tall enough to let your cat stretch out without reaching the top. Some cats may prefer horizontal posts, in which case height isn’t as crucial, but sturdiness is still essential.

What Kind of Material Should I Use?

Keep in mind that you also have different material options when selecting a scratching post. Carpet, although historically popular, may not be the best choice because claws can get stuck in the loops, which your cat might not enjoy and cause her to stop using it. Instead, consider sisal rope, old upholstery fabric, cardboard or wood. Don’t be afraid to test out a few options to see what your cat prefers.

Giving Your Cat Options

In addition, consider getting more than one post for your furry friend to enjoy, especially if you have more than one cat. Another reason why cats naturally scratch is to mark their territory visually and with their scent (cats have scent glands in their paws). So, you can’t expect that two cats will use the same post, when one cat has claimed the post, the other will likely pick something else like a piece of furniture. Even if you have just one cat, giving her options means it’s more likely that she’ll stay away from furniture.

Where to Put Your Cat’s Post

Last but certainly not least, remember that placement matters. Ideal placement for ensuring your cat will use her post is in prominent areas in your home, not tucked away in the basement or in a corner. Although it may not be convenient to us or match up with our ideas about interior design, recall that part of the reason why cats like to scratch is to make their territorial presence known. As a result, your favorite chair in the centre of the living room might look more appealing than a scratch post that is in the back corner.

Additionally, take a look at where and what your cat is scratching now. If they are using a piece of furniture and you want to discourage this, you can put a post near that furniture, and use some of the behavioral techniques discussed below to help them make the switch. You can also cover furniture with a tucked in blanket or thick sheet, move it to a different spot, and/or put double sided sticky tape on some of the spots where your cat is scratching (cats typically don’t like to touch sticky surfaces).

Cats also often like to scratch after waking up from a nap to stretch out and get a little exercise, so consider putting a post near their favorite sleeping area. If your cat likes to look outside, you might consider putting a post near their favorite window, as watching the action outdoors might get them excited and get them scratching.

Encouraging Your Cat to Use Their Post

What can you do as a cat parent to encourage your cat to scratch in the right places? What training methods can you employ? The name of the game is positive association. In a nutshell, we want to entice our cats to use their posts by making their experience enjoyable and rewarding them for good behavior afterward. Ideally, we want to be training them with positive association from a very early age. Starting training young has the benefit of having more time on our side, not having to try to ‘unlearn’ any ingrained but undesirable behaviors, and guiding them at a time when they might be more willing to listen.

Making a Post More Appealing
There are a couple tools we can use to make using a scratch post more fun for our cats. The first is catnip. If your cat enjoys it, you can sprinkle small amounts at the base and top of the scratching post. Your cat might knead her claws after eating or smelling the catnip, which will show her that the post is a perfect surface for scratching. You can also substitute catnip for treats if your cat prefers the latter, and can even encourage her to stretch up towards the top of the post before giving them to her.

Another way to make the post look appealing is through play. Using a toy that encourages your cat to reach high up the post might get her excited and in the perfect position for scratching. You can also put some of her favorite toys at the top of the post to inspire her to climb up and get them. Doing that consistently for several days can help solidify the positive connection between the post, scratching and enjoying play time.

If you’ve just bought a new post and your cat seems indifferent, consider changing the angle of the post or lying it on its side. Cats, just like us, are creatures of habit. So if they are used to scratching something that has a horizontal orientation, like the top of a sofa for example, then it might help to buy a horizontal post or tip your vertical post on its side.

Using scent products can also encourage your cat to use their post. Some synthetic feline pheromone products can be sprayed directly onto a scratching post, which will help amplify her scent, making her feel more comfortable and ‘at home’ in her own territory. Remember, cats spread their scent with glands in their front paws.

Rewarding Good Behavior
Finally, make sure to praise your cat when you see that they are using their post. This can include giving treats, petting or talking to them in a soothing voice. Whatever your cat likes, you want to build that connection in their mind between using the post and a positive outcome, which will encourage them to use it more in the future.

What to Avoid in Scratch Post Training

There are also a few pitfalls to avoid when scratch post training your cat. In general, avoid negative training methods wherever possible. Scratching is a common, natural behavior for cats, and yelling at them when they do so might stress and confuse them. They will associate you catching them scratching with a negative outcome, which might cause them to hide from you and simply scratch at other times.

Physically placing your cats paws on their post is probably best avoided as well, unless you are sure your cat is very easy going and won’t mind. The idea would be to help spread your cat’s scent onto the post and show what is okay to scratch. However, cats typically like to come to conclusions on their own, and forcing your cat to do something they may initially be uneasy about could cause them to shun the post altogether. Be sure to not throw out their favorite scratch post at the first sign of wear and tear. The point that a post has become well used is also the point that your cat’s habits, comfort and territory are most established.

What’s more, posts that have become torn up or shredded are easier for cats to dig their nails into. If you’ve made up your mind about a change, it may be wise to introduce a new post and get your kitty using it before throwing out an old one.

Top Selling Scratch Posts on Amazon

Bestseller No. 1
AmazonBasics Cat Condo Tree Tower With Hammock Bed And Scratching Post, 16 x 20 x 16 Inches, Gray
18,321 Reviews
AmazonBasics Cat Condo Tree Tower With Hammock Bed And Scratching Post, 16 x 20 x 16 Inches, Gray
  • Elevated cat hammock with dual scratching post pillars
  • Plush hammock provides a comfortable space for your cat to relax
  • Helps keep your cat from damaging carpets, furniture, curtains, and more
  • Natural jute fiber scratching posts help keep nails healthy
  • Neutral color tones fit in with your home’s existing décor
Bestseller No. 2
SmartCat Pioneer Pet Ultimate Scratching Post (Beige)
15,129 Reviews
SmartCat Pioneer Pet Ultimate Scratching Post (Beige)
  • 32″ height allows cats to stretch fully and tone muscles
  • Sturdy 16″ by 16″ base eliminates tipping and wobbling
  • Fibrous and durable woven sisal naturally inspires scratching
  • Superior to carpeted posts that may snag nail
  • Assembles with two included screws
Bestseller No. 3
Akarden 29'' Tall Cat Scratching Post, Cat Claw Scratcher with Hanging Ball, Durable Cat Furniture with Sisal Rope
237 Reviews
Akarden 29'' Tall Cat Scratching Post, Cat Claw Scratcher with Hanging Ball, Durable Cat Furniture with Sisal Rope
  • DIMENSION: Sturdy cat scratching post/cat furniture | Cat post measures 29 inch tall.
  • NATURAL MATERIALS: Base tower are made with heavy chipboard covered with soft carpet, safe and stable, avoid tipping and wobbling, provides reliability and stability, wooden material , handmade.
  • PROTECT YOUR FURNITURE: The Scratching post attracts cats to play and scratch, natural sisal suitable for cat scratching, effectively prevent cats from catching your furniture.
  • EASY TO SET UP: cat scratching posts require minimum assembling efforts; just screw all parts together, and kitten scratching post is ready to use (screws included).
  • LARGE SIZE: A more stable and wider base, enlarged sisal posts.
SaleBestseller No. 4
PAWZ Road Cat Scratching Post Cactus Cat Scratcher Featuring with 3 Scratching Poles and Dangling Ball-Medium 23 Inches
432 Reviews
PAWZ Road Cat Scratching Post Cactus Cat Scratcher Featuring with 3 Scratching Poles and Dangling Ball-Medium 23 Inches
  • Unique Design: This Cat scratching post with 3 scratching poles covered with green natural sisal and carpet standing on the “12.6” round base like a mimic cactus looks cute and fresh that help blend into any modern decor and add fun flair to any room.
  • Various Height of Fun: A variety of post height from “7.5” to “20.9” satisfy all ages of cats’ scratching habit and stretching. It offer a perfect place for cats to relieve their stress, encourage their natural desire for a good scratch and save your expensive furniture from little tiger’s clawing.
  • Premium Choice: The base and top part are both covered in soft carpet that feels good on the paws, especially for adventurous kitties that want to jump to the top. It comes with 2 sizes. The medium post is suggest for cats up to “10lbs" and the large post is recommend for adult cat .
  • Additional Benefit: Designed with cats in mind. It is equipped with hanging toy stimulate their prey-like behavior like pouncing and swatting and enhance their playing time with it and provide extra fun for them.
  • Simple Assembly: Simple construction with 3 posts and a base requires minor assembling. The step by step instruction make it more easy. You can set it up in minutes or seconds.
Bestseller No. 5
Dimaka 34' Tall Ultimate Cat Scratching Post, Claw Scratcher with Sisal Rope and Covered with Soft Smooth Plush, Vertical Scratch [Full Stretch], Modern Stable Design 34 in Height (Beige V2)
2,071 Reviews
Dimaka 34" Tall Ultimate Cat Scratching Post, Claw Scratcher with Sisal Rope and Covered with Soft Smooth Plush, Vertical Scratch [Full Stretch], Modern Stable Design 34 in Height (Beige V2)
  • [Standard Full Stretch Post] - 34 inches / 86 cm Height, design for all size cats from kitten to adults, except huge ones.
  • [Natural and Eco-Friendly] Scratching Post Tree is made with thick cardboard tube and wrapped with natural fibrous sisal; base tower are made with heavy chipboard covered with soft plush, safe and stable, avoid tipping and wobbling, provides reliability and stability, wooden material , handmade
  • [Fun Fact] Plush Ball gives extra attraction to cat, lead to full stretch for big cats, perfect for claw scratch
  • [Modern Design] 5 colors: brown, dark brown, light grey, blue, beige, always meet your decor expection for matching house furniture
  • [Easy Assemble, Tools Inlcuded] Easy to assemble and disassemble, take only 3 steps, less than 4 minutes to install
Bestseller No. 6
Nova Microdermabrasion 53 Inches Multi-Level Cat Tree Stand House Furniture Kittens Activity Tower with Scratching Posts Kitty Pet Play House (Grey)
12,709 Reviews
Nova Microdermabrasion 53 Inches Multi-Level Cat Tree Stand House Furniture Kittens Activity Tower with Scratching Posts Kitty Pet Play House (Grey)
  • 🍃Your feline friends need a cozy home of their own to take a rest, play around and just be as active as they want, Nova Cat Tree is sure to be their dream-come-true! No need to go out, your cat can also enjoy the same happiness as in the tree! Your cats will love their new castle! *** This cat tree is for small cats, if your cat is too big, pls don't purchase! For Big Orange Cat,no more than 2!For other medium cats, no more than 4! Don't work for Maine coon!
  • 🍃Multi Level to Relax: Car tree is made of high quality particle board with skin-friendly plush covering to keep your cats warme and comfortable, strengthened base with battens at the bottom to ensure its stability, anti-dumping accessories ensure double safety.
  • 🍃More Fun for Playtime: Multiple scratching posts are lined with natural sisal ropes is perfect for your cats to scratch and sharpen their claws, no scratching your furniture anymore! Which also develops positive scratching habit, keep your car active & entertained!
  • 🍃2 Spacious room offer super soft and warm lounging spots, will offer your feline friends luxurious napping experience; 3 top of platforms for your fur babies to sit on and look out the window, enjoy the feeling of being at the top of the world; Multi-layer tower meets the climbing nature of kittens.
  • 🍃Stability & Charm are Always Priority: Easy to assemble with included tools and instructions. Super solid construction, well balanced design, strong base, cats can easily and safely leap on or off this cat tree. Beautiful appearance will add luster to any room in your home.
Bestseller No. 7
AmazonBasics Top Platform Cat Tree - 18 x 14 x 22 Inches, Beige
3,478 Reviews
AmazonBasics Top Platform Cat Tree - 18 x 14 x 22 Inches, Beige
  • Ideal for small to medium size cats up to 25lbs,1-2 cats
  • Multi-platform cat tree with scratching posts
  • Helps keep your cat from damaging carpets, furniture, curtains, and more
  • Carpeted platforms provide space to relax, play, and climb
  • Natural jute fiber scratching posts help keep nails healthy
Bestseller No. 8
Lean-it Scratching Post 25'
2,052 Reviews
Lean-it Scratching Post 25"
  • Colors may vary
  • The Lean-it Scratching Post is for cats and can be leaned against a wall at any angle or any floor surface.
  • Used on any floor surface, be it carpet, vinyl or hardwood!
  • Comes with an attractive carpeted post and stylish end cap.
  • Sold in both regular and extra wide - Regular size available in 19" and 25" lengths and Wide in lengths of 20", 26" and 38"
Bestseller No. 9
Dimaka 29' Tall Cat Scratching Post for Big Cats, Natural Sisal Rope Pole and Teasing Toy Ball on Top, Big Cat Vertical Scratch (Light Grey)
2,140 Reviews
Dimaka 29" Tall Cat Scratching Post for Big Cats, Natural Sisal Rope Pole and Teasing Toy Ball on Top, Big Cat Vertical Scratch (Light Grey)
  • [Standard Full Stretch Post] - 29 inches / 74 cm Height, design for all size cats from kitten to adults, except huge ones.
  • [Natural and Eco-Friendly] Scratching Post Tree is made with thick cardboard tube and wrapped with natural fibrous sisal; base tower are made with heavy chipboard covered with soft plush, safe and stable, avoid tipping and wobbling, provides reliability and stability, wooden material , handmade
  • [Fun Fact] Plush Ball gives extra attraction to cat, lead to full stretch for big cats, perfect for claw scratch
  • [Modern Design] 5 colors: brown, dark brown, light grey, blue, beige, always meet your decor expection for matching house furniture
  • [Easy Assemble, Tools Inlcuded] Easy to assemble and disassemble, take only 3 steps, less than 4 minutes to install
Bestseller No. 10
Cat Scratching Posts- Adult Cat and Kitten Tree, 3 Large Scratching Poles, Carpeted Base Play Area and Perch, Furniture Scratch Deterrent by PETMAKER
1,210 Reviews
Cat Scratching Posts- Adult Cat and Kitten Tree, 3 Large Scratching Poles, Carpeted Base Play Area and Perch, Furniture Scratch Deterrent by PETMAKER
  • HEALTHY SCRATCHING- This cat scratcher tree uses 3 large scratching posts, each featuring a different color scheme or design, perfect to keep cats interested time and time again- or for households with multiple kitties! Each pole in this small tower is made with durable sisal rope, encouraging use by providing maximum comfort, a modern design, and safe place to play!
  • HOURS OF PLAY- This cat scratcher features 3 uniquely fun toys that hang playfully, including a fluffy mouse and 2 sisal built balls that attract frisky felines for hours of entertainment. Each kitty toy on this scratching post encourages cats to be active and alert. This scratcher engages small kittens and adult cats in multiple levels of play, making it both useful and amusing!
  • STURDY DESIGN- This quality scratching post is crafted with sturdy rope materials for a safe and functional vertical design, providing a healthy way for kitties to scratch while helping guard your couch and other furniture! The soft carpeted base and upper-deck perch feature a velvety edge lining, providing a soft and cozy pad for kitty to rest after a long day of play.
  • PRODUCT DETAILS-  19.25” (H) 15.75” (L) 15.75” (W). Color: Natural Brown, Tan, and Cream. Scratching Material: Sisal. Fabric Covering: 100% Polyester.
  • SATISFACTION GUARANTEED- PETMAKER is committed to providing consumers with the absolute best price and value on our entire line of products. NOTE: This is an exclusive product of PETMAKER and ONLY Cat Scratching Post-3 Poles with Perch by PETMAKER are GUARANTEED to be genuine