Why Won’t My Kitten Use the Scratching Post?

Kitten using scratching post

Scratching is a natural and vital behavior for kittens. It helps them maintain their claws, stretch their muscles, and mark their territory. Despite its importance, many kitten owners find themselves at their wit’s end when their furry friends ignore the scratching post and wreak havoc on furniture instead. Let’s shed some light on the reasons behind your kitten’s scratching post preferences and provide helpful tips to encourage proper scratching behavior.

Before we go into more detail, let’s first understand why kittens, especially the indoor variety, need to scratch in the first place.

Do Indoor Cats Need a Scratching Post?

Indoor cats and kittens need a scratching post because it lets them engage in their natural scratching behavior. As mentioned above, this helps them maintain their claws, stretch their muscles, and mark their territory. Plus, having a proper place to scratch can save your furniture from getting damaged, which makes for happier kitty parents. So…

Why Won’t My Cat Scratch the Scratching Post?

Your kitten (or cat) may not use the scratching post due to factors such as inappropriate material, incorrect size or stability, poor location, insufficient scent marking, or lack of proper training and reinforcement. Identifying and addressing these factors can encourage your cat to use the scratching post.

Inappropriate Scratching Post Material

Kittens can be quite particular about the textures they prefer for scratching. Some may favor sisal rope, while others prefer carpet, wood, or cardboard. Offering a variety of materials can help you discover your kitten’s preference and increase the likelihood of them using the scratching post.

Scratching Post Size and Stability

The dimensions and sturdiness of a scratching post play a crucial role in its appeal to your kitten. Kittens enjoy posts tall enough for them to stretch their entire bodies while scratching. Moreover, a post should be wide enough to accommodate your kitten’s growing size. A wobbly or unstable post can deter your kitten from using it, as they need a secure surface to scratch.

Location of the Scratching Post

Placement is key when it comes to enticing your kitten to use a scratching post. High-traffic areas, where your kitten spends most of their time, are ideal locations. However, it’s also important to strike a balance between visibility and privacy, as some kittens prefer a secluded spot for scratching.

Insufficient Scent Marking

Cats have scent glands in their paws, which release pheromones when they scratch. This behavior marks their territory, making them feel secure and comfortable. If your kitten doesn’t have a chance to mark the scratching post with their scent, they may be less inclined to use it.

Lack of Proper Training and Reinforcement

Introducing your kitten to the scratching post and using positive reinforcement techniques can help them develop a positive association with it. Redirecting unwanted scratching behavior to the post is also crucial in teaching your kitten where it is appropriate to scratch.

Tips for Choosing the Right Scratching Post

Introducing a scratching post to your feline companion’s environment is an important step in ensuring they have an appropriate outlet for their natural scratching instincts. With countless options available, selecting the perfect scratching post can be an overwhelming task for cat owners. Here are a few things to consider:

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  1. Material Selection: As previously mentioned, kittens have individual preferences for scratching post materials. When selecting a post, consider offering a variety of materials, such as sisal rope, carpet, wood, or cardboard, to determine which one your kitten prefers.
  2. Size and Stability Considerations: Opt for a tall and wide scratching post that can accommodate your kitten’s growth. Make sure the post is stable, with a solid base to prevent it from wobbling or tipping over during use.
  3. Comparing Different Types of Scratching Posts: Various scratching post designs are available on the market, including vertical, horizontal, angled, and curved surfaces. Some posts even serve multiple functions, such as combining a scratching surface with a perch or play area. Experiment with different designs to find the one that best suits your kitten’s needs.

What Type of Scratching Post Is Best for Cats?

The best type of scratching post for cats depends on individual preferences. Consider offering a variety of materials (sisal rope, carpet, wood, or cardboard), ensuring the post is tall, wide, and stable, and exploring different designs (vertical, horizontal, angled, or curved surfaces). Observe your cat’s preferences and choose the one that suits them best.

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Is There a Cat Scratcher That Trims Nails?

There are many cat scratchers that are designed to help trim nails. These scratchers typically have rough surfaces, like sisal rope or corrugated cardboard, which can help file down your cat’s nails as they scratch. However, it’s important to note that these scratchers may not fully replace regular nail trimming. Some cats may still need additional grooming to maintain optimal nail health.

Winston using the scratching post

Ugh, humans, always trying to control everything. So, they got me this so-called “scratching post.” I guess it’s okay. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the texture is divine, and the height is perfect for my stretching needs, but you know what’s even better? The couch! I guess I’ll give it a try, but only when they’re watching. #IStillPreferTheCouch #CouchIsLife #ScratchyKitty


How to Encourage Your Kitten to Use the Scratching Post

If your kitten won’t use the scratching post, you can encourage them in a number of ways. Consider the following tips that may help attract your furball to the scratching post instead of your furniture.

  1. Use Toys and Playtime to Introduce the Post. Incorporate the scratching post into playtime by dangling toys around it or placing treats on it. This will encourage your kitten to interact with the post and establish a positive connection.
  2. Apply Catnip or Pheromone Spray. Applying catnip or pheromone spray to the scratching post can make it more enticing for your kitten. These substances can stimulate your kitten’s interest, making them more likely to use the post. Be sure not to use anything that may be toxic to your cat.
  3. Praise and Reward Your Kitten for Using the Post. When your kitten uses the scratching post, praise them and offer treats or toys as a reward. Positive reinforcement helps to solidify the connection between the scratching post and enjoyable experiences, making your kitten more likely to use it regularly.
  4. Be Patient and Consistent. Persistence is key when encouraging your kitten to use the scratching post. Consistently redirect unwanted scratching behavior to the post and maintain a regular routine of praise and rewards. It may take some time, but with patience, your kitten will eventually learn to use the scratching post instead of your furniture.

Where Should I Put My Cat’s Scratching Post?

Place your cat’s scratching post in a high-traffic area where your cat spends most of their time, making it easily accessible. Additionally, strike a balance between visibility and privacy, as some cats prefer a secluded spot for scratching. You may also place posts near areas where your cat has previously scratched furniture to redirect their behavior.

At What Age Do Kittens Need a Scratching Post?

Kittens can benefit from a scratching post as early as a few weeks old. Introducing a scratching post at a young age helps kittens develop proper scratching habits, become familiar with the appropriate place to scratch, and prevent furniture damage as they grow older.

How Do I Stop My Cat from Scratching Furniture

If you’re still having difficulties with your little one scratching the furniture, there are a few other things you can try in addition to the suggestions mentioned previously. To stop your cat from scratching furniture, you can try the following strategies:

  1. Use deterrents: Apply double-sided tape, aluminum foil, or plastic sheeting on the furniture your cat has been scratching. These materials create an unpleasant surface that can discourage your cat from scratching. There are also commercial scratch deterrent sprays available that can be applied to furniture.
  2. Trim your cat’s nails: Regular nail trimming can reduce the damage caused by scratching. Make sure to use a proper cat nail trimmer and trim only the sharp tips of the nails to avoid injury.
  3. Use nail caps: Soft nail caps, such as Soft Paws, can be applied to your cat’s nails to prevent damage from scratching. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application and sizing.

It might take some time for your cat to change their scratching habits, so be patient and consistent in redirecting their behavior and using positive reinforcement. Remember that scratching is a natural behavior for cats, so providing an appropriate outlet for this instinct is important for their well-being and the preservation of your furniture.


Understanding the reasons behind your kitten’s scratching post preferences is crucial in addressing the issue. By selecting the right materials, size, and design, and placing the post in an appropriate location, you can make it more appealing to your kitten. This will help ensure that your furry little friend will use the scratching post, instead of your couch.

How to Teach Your Cat to Use a Scratching Post

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