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Expert Q&A

I spent a fortune on a new scratching post, but my male cat ignores it. What can I do to encourage him to use it?

I spent a fortune on a new scratching post, but my male cat ignores it. What can I do to encourage him to use it?

BY: The Daily Cat experts

Spending money on new cat toys and other objects only to have your cat ignore them can be a frustrating experience. Many cat owners have gorgeous cat trees in their homes, looking more like sculptural works of art than something their cats are actually using.

Dr. David Brunner and Sam Stall, co-authors of The Cat Owner’s Manual: Operating Instructions, Troubleshooting Tips, and Advice on Lifetime Maintenance, offer several helpful suggestions. First, the scratching element should not be carpeting. If your cat is marching around on carpeting throughout your home and then sees it again on a cat tree, he would likely think, “So what? I don’t get it.” Sisal is a far better material choice. It’s sustainable and allows for the proper claw-pull tension that cats favor.

If your cat is catnip-sensitive, rub this herb on the cat post to serve as an attractant. Not all cats go for catnip, however, even as adults. Most kittens that are catnip-sensitive develop a taste for it later on.

Your cat looks to you for guidance. If you’re ignoring the post, then he probably will too. Spend some time with your pet near the cat tree, even scratching your fingernails on the surface. You might feel silly doing this, but you will accomplish two things: teaching your cat to use the post and putting your own scent on it. If your cat smells you, he will probably figure whatever it is will be good enough for him too.

Finally, if your cat favors scratching something else -- like a coveted easy chair -- place the scratching post in front of the chair. Then, if possible, stick double-sided tape over your cat’s particular scratching spot. Cats generally dislike the feel of the tape, and will then take their paws elsewhere -- hopefully to the nearby scratching post.

Tags: cat behavior , cat training

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