Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
So my boyfriend and I just got a shelter cat last week and we love him to death and he is perfect and well behaved, except we cannot get him to scratch anything we have bought for him. We tried putting catnip on both the the scratchers we bought but he won’t even try. I keep catching him trying to scratch things around the apartment and as soon as I say “No” he stops and runs away, like he knows he’s not allowed to do it, and I haven’t caught him trying the same thing twice. I think he’s looking for what he is allowed to scratch, but he just won’t try what we bought him. We bought him two different kinds so far (Cardboard and a grass thing) at two different angles and still nothing. Advice?
Thomas: Well, it’s good that your kitty is looking for appropriate places to scratch, and we think we can help!
Bella: The first thing you’ll need to do is to see what your cat’s favorite scratching locations have in common. Are they vertical (like your couch, a chair, or your blinds)? Or are they horizontal, like your carpets?
Tara: If he scratches both horizontally and vertically, is there anything about the texture that those surfaces have in common?
Thomas: You do say he’s scratching things around the apartment — are those things near windows or doors? If so, he may be scratching to mark territory.
Bella: In addition to stretching and maintaining the claws, territory marking is one of the most important things about scratching.
Tara: One more thing about scratchers that’s very, very important, is that vertical scratchers need to feel secure.
Thomas: That’s right. A vertical scratcher needs to have enough weight at the bottom so it won’t tip over when the cat tries to use it. It also needs to be tall enough that your kitty can get a really good stretch. There are some really good tall sisal ones and wall-mounted cardboard ones. (Note: We have not used the cardboard scratcher, but the link to the tall sisal scratcher goes to one we’ve used and liked.)
Bella: Mama bought us a cat tower that has sisal wrapped around the vertical posts so we can use that as a scratcher as well as a climber. It’s nice and heavy, so Thomas and I can get a great scratch when we want it.
Tara: Someday maybe I’ll scratch it too. I’m doing really good! I’m so brave that I’ve come out into the living room.
Thomas: She is spending most of her time under the couch, but she’s starting to explore. I’m really proud of you, Tara!
Tara: You are? But I’m scared of you!
Thomas: You don’t need to be. I’m a nice kitty. Sure, I’ll eat your food sometimes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like you.
Tara: Please stop eating my food. I know Mama’s been good about helping you stay away from me so I can eat.
Thomas: I’ll try.
Bella: In any case, Jean, you may want to get yourself something like the scratcher Mama got us because then your cat can use it as vertical territory as well as a scratcher!
Thomas: And about the catnip — does your cat like catnip anyway? Some cats don’t, and that may be why he’s not so attracted to the scratcher by the catnip.
Bella: Catnip also varies a lot in freshness and potency. Most catnip sold at pet stores has been sitting around long enough for those oh-so-luscious volatile oils to evaporate out. We’d recommend trying some fresh, local catnip and see if that helps.
Tara: Another thing you can do to get your cat interested in a scratcher is to run your fingernails along it until your kitty digs in and starts using it. Playing with an interactive toy and getting it on the scratcher can also lure him to the right place. When he does scratch on the scratcher, even if it’s just a tiny half-scratch, give him lots of praise and positive reinforcement.
Thomas: We’d recommend asking the shelter what kind of scratching posts and surfaces they use. If your cat sees something he’s used to, he may be more inclined to use it.
Bella: You may also want to learn how to trim your cat’s nails, so even if he does scratch your furniture or carpets, the damage will be minimized.
Tara: It’s easier than a lot of people think — at least for most cats! This video is super-helpful if you’re a first-time claw trimmer:
(Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube)
Thomas: Between claw trimming; getting a nice, tall scratch post; and locating the scratching surfaces in the places your cat wants to use them, you should be able to get your cat trained to scratch the right things and not the wrong ones.
Bella: What about you other readers? What have you done to help your cat learn how to scratch in the right places and not scratch in the wrong ones? Please share your stories in the comments!
My 13 yr. old Tuxedo very loving, male cat was always an outdoor indoor cat with a fence with a kitty barrier to keep him in years &’other critters out!
Now at,68’yrs. We live in an Apt. for seniors and he is now an indoor cat for his safety as well as Apt. rules., he has two desks by two front windows to watch the neighbor’s go by, and watches the birds, mice,and in summer feral cats who he loves.
My concern is he has taken to licking his soft beds, as well as the carpet. He never did that into the past 6 months. Is he suffering from anxiety or dementia. He spends much of the day & night hugging me and in my lap. He sleeps between my legs on our recliner at night & times during the day while I meditate!
Oh, Linda. Consider yourself blessed. I’m not a feline psychologist but his licking his beds I would guess could be due to the newer surroundings. In any event, I don’t see anything harmful about the act itself. Just make sure there’s nothing he can swallow. As for the sleeping, I’m chuckling. All of my cats have slept on me and with me. Willie, the moment I get on my tablet, decides it’s time to move his nap about five feet so he can sleep right between me and the tablet. How dare I give something else so much attention. He seems to know exactly when I’m texting, too, as far as getting between me and my tablet goes.
My late Pud was a big hugger. He was my first tabby and got me hooked on them. He had the most adorable huge, pillowy front paws and he would jump on me and put his arms (some call them front legs) around me and just hang on.
Thank you so much, you have so relieved
As you describe your cats exact same behavior
Getting up,on you while you are attempting
to use your tablet…..is exactly what Mr. Tio
does with me, literally just climbs over it in
my hands to cling to me, snuggle on my left
& shoulder, purring, licking my ear lobe,
which he suckled as a kitten for years.
The joys of the antics of a cat who thinks he
Is a German Shepherd and would lick the inside
his Ms. Aspen’s ears daily.
Ms. Aspen took to baby Mr. Tio so lovingly.
She was 4 yrs. old and lil Tio 7 weeks. How they
Bonded! They would sleep with one another,
Curled up together.
The day I came home after sending Ms. Aspen
who at age 8 was crippled with doggie M.S,as
we’re her mother & father, and her 16 siblings;
Mr. Tio let out the most mournful Yowl as ever
I have heard. And he scratched my face up
quite a bit for 6 months. Biting me. Shessh
He was so angry with me.
My Neuro-radiologist, dear friend & wife,
turned their family room into a birthing room &
Nursery with classical music 24/7!
You should have seen the 3 of us helping Ms.
Tipper in her birthing of her pups.
We all gowned up with masks on no less….Lol
and Shelly would hand each newborn to Dr.
John who would give the pup a quick bit of
02…then hand to me to place in the warming
bed until Ms. Tipper had given birth to all
8 pups, then Dr. John would place them all
with their mom. Lol. Have you ever heard
of such extreme assistance.
Ms. Tipper would look at us with such tender
gratitude in her eyes.
Iam of the belief that animals are far more
intelligent & loving than we ego centered
humans….and they share & teach us about
un-conditional love, loyalty & trust!
And, I know Mr. Tio reads my mind, as well as
bossing me around & shepherding me thru
my movement in my Apt.
Iam sure you are truly chuckling now!
So that be my tale of Ms. Aspen & Mr. Tio…
who thinks he is a DOG!
Again, thank you!
Live with acts of compassion and loving kindness to all persons and sentient beings!
Mr. Tio, I can assure you, does not think he’s a dog. I love dogs, but I’m a cat person and Mr. Tio being a cat is much too smart to think he’s a dog. But I got your point!
I’m going to spend the night at a friends so I can help him in the morning (he is sick) get to the hospital for his radiation treatment. He’s not just any old friend, yet I still feel guilty leaving Willie alone all night. I don’t work any longer and wasn’t from the time he moved in. I tell everyone he has abandonment issues because he does not like to be left alone at all.
I can’t use the bathroom, I can’t do the dishes, I can’t make a meal without him being at my feet. There is the rare occasion when he is in one of his real sleeps. As soon as he realizes I’m not there, he finds me.
And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Same here, I love Mr. Tio following me everywhere in our Apt. Yes, even just lays on a nice brown rug by the sink, and waits for me to do my thing! Lol
I have always had German Shepherds. And Mr. Tio is my first indoor (for the last 2 yrs. living in an Apt.). Before that he with his, German Shepherd, Ms Aspen had a lovely fenced yard with a cat Barrier. So Mr. Tio would go out the doggy door with his mother, Ms. Aspen. How they loved one another!
Do I ever feel how hard it is to leave Willie for the night.
Last Februrary I has to care for my sister 25 miles away day and night while she was totally bedridden except to make it to her bathroom in her bedroom!
I would drive 50 miles round trip, daily to spend 2 hours snuggling with Mr. Tio.
We do love our cats…& I all my former German Shepherds.
BEST wishes,positive healing sent to you friend & the radiation treatments.
I have a scratcher with sisal wrapped around the posts. I placed it by my side window which has bushes and trees so that the cats can sit and watch the squirrels and birds.
This way they can watch to their hearts content without being scared of strangers.
And if they want to front window, they just lay on top of the couch!