Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My Cat Won't Play With His Scratching Post -- Prefers Carpet

Reader Question: My cat ignores the scratching post I bought for him. What should I do?

Cats, fickle creatures that they are, often turn their noses up at scratching posts only to stroll to the nearby couch and sink their claws in. Other cats can’t seem lay off the carpet.

There are two problems with scratching posts. First, they often do not weigh enough. If the post should move when your cat tries to scratch, it is not going to pass Kitty’s inspection. Cats like to really dig in when they scratch so any post you offer should be hefty. If you have the sort that hang on doorknobs or that are made of cardboard and your cat ignores them the lack of substantial weight could be the culprit.

The second problem is that some cats prefer to scratch vertically and others prefer to scratch horizontally. If your cat likes to scratch vertically, he may ignore posts that lay flat on the floor. Likewise, horizontal scratchers may ignore posts that sit up.

To determine what your cat prefers, observe where he most frequently scratches. If he stands on his back legs and digs into your favorite recliner, he’ll probably like a post that sits up and down. If your carpet is the typical culprit, buy a post that lays flush on the floor. I have three cats with a combination of tastes. I bought the sort that sits up and then laid it on its side so it is at an angle. This seems to be a hit with all three. (It’s a miracle!)

Finally, when you bring home a new post entice your cat to play with it by spiking it with catnip! While using the litter box seems to come naturally to most cats differentiating between your couch and the scratching post takes a bit of practice, so make that post the most interesting thing in your house for a few days until it catches on!