We all know cats love to scratch - but does your new kitten need a scratching post right away?
The answer is yes! It's a natural instinct for cats of any age to scratch and it's a kitty behaviour which has lots of benefits; it's a great way for cats to exercise, keep their nails sharp and stretch their muscles. In addition, cats use scratching to mark their territory, helping them feel secure, as their scratches contain scent marks which let other kitties know who's space it is!
From a more human perspective, training your new kitty to use a scratching post from an early age will also discourage any unwanted scratching in your house or on your furniture!
So how should you introduce your kitten to their scratching post and help them form good kitty habits?
TIPS TO ENCOURAGE POSITIVE KITTY SCRATCHING
1. Pick the perfect scratching location
Cats like to have a good stretch after a nap, so try to place a scratching post close to their bed. This way when they wake up, it will be the first thing they go to. Don't move the post around otherwise your pet may get confused and start scratching elsewhere!
To encourage your kitty, try to pick an interesting post - maybe your pet will prefer a post that links with lots of different levels and kitty platforms, or would like their favourite toys nearby! Try both horizontal and vertical scratching options to see which your kitty prefers!
Cats are creatures of habit and once they find the perfect place to scratch, will return again and again, so it's good to get them off to a purrfect start! If your pet is a bit reluctant at first, try putting some treats on the post, or show them what to do to entice them.
2. Never punish scratching behaviour!
Although you may be tempted to punish your kitten if they mark your furniture or wreck the curtains - this will only scare and confuse your pet, and could damage your relationship. Instead, remove your pet carefully from the unwanted scratching area and put them on to their scratching post. Remember it is normal behaviour for a cat to scratch, so telling them off will confuse them! Be sure to clean unwanted scratch marks (with an enzymatic cleaner - not bleach or ammonia-based products) to remove any scent that may draw your pet back.
Once your kitty starts using their scratching post, give them a treat to encourage them to return - they will soon develop the right habits!
3. Keep Nail Clipping To A Minimum
Scratching on a post is a cat's way of self-grooming, especially for indoor kitties. If you feel you need to have their claws clipped (not removed completely!) to make them less sharp, get your groomer to trim them. The best time to begin visits to the groomer is when a kitten is young so trips become a familiar habit.
If your cat is an outdoor cat and spends a lot of time climbing trees or walking on fences, their claws will wear down naturally, so clipping their claws is not recommended. They also need their claws to climb and to defend themselves if they come across any natural predators - don't forget cats are territorial animals and will want to defend what they feel is their territory.
3. Choose a sturdy scratching post!
Scratching posts come in all shapes and sizes and are essential for your kitty's wellbeing.
When choosing a scratching post, opt for one that allows your kitty to stretch their body fully; and a post with a hanging toy they can play with may encourage them to use it more. If you want to give your kitty extra adventure then a scratching tree will give them places that they can hide, climb, play and sometimes sleep. It needs to be sturdy and covered with sisal twine that they can use to scratch and stretch their limbs when they wake up. Remember too that cats like to jump, so the post must be stable enough not to topple over if your cat launches itself from a distance!
You should also ensure that your kitten can grow into their post, and it is large enough to keep them entertained when are fully grown.
You can use FELIWAY CLASSIC Spray on areas where you'd prefer your kitty didn't scratch, such as the sofa if this is where they like to scratch.
Be patient if your kitty occasionally scratches at your furniture; they will soon learn that the scratching post is their scratching spot - especially if you make it as exciting and fun as possible!