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Caturday Voodles: The Wiggle and the Scratch

Scratching is as normal to us cats as stretching
or yoga is to you. It's written in our DNA and we
need the right tools to exercise this need in the
most appropriate way for us to live in harmony
with you, our guardians.

How to Use Your Scratching Post Like a Boss

cat shows how to use scratching post

Why do cats scratch?

Scratching is always one of the first topics that pop up in cat forums and more often than not, seen in a negative light. We ask questions like “Why is my cat scratching my couch?” or “My cat is not using his new scratching post!” But that’s because we view it from our human perspective, and not from the cat’s purrspective if you will. Your cat is not a “jerk” or scratching out of spite, as is commonly thought. In the world of cats scratching is very much linked to everyday cat rituals and is a behavior that carries positive associations for the cat.

In our post about Declawing, and why it needs to stop we mention that scratching is a vital part of a cat’s well-being. Providing cats with many different types of scratching posts contributes to a cat’s enrichment needs. Cats do not scratch your couch to get back at you but it’s an innate feline behavior necessary for cats to feel confident and happy in their environment.

  1. Scratching exercises, stretches and tones the muscles of a cat’s front legs and spine by hooking their claws and pulling their weight down. The action of hooking the claws onto hard substrate conditions the claws by removing the outer nail sheath. This is known as stropping and you will often see little pieces of nail sheath lying around near a cat’s scratch posts. Good job! That means kitty is using his scratching post!
  2. Cats scratch to mark their territory and claim ownership of space, depositing scent via their paw pads. This alerts others to their presence. It’s like leaving little sticky notes for their housemates and to the humans.
  3. The mere act of scratching is a confidence booster because of all the things mentioned above. You may notice that some cats especially like scratching their posts before supper time, when you return from work, when playing with a toy or when responding to you when talking to them in cat speak. How cute is that?
  4. Scratching allows cats a platform to communicate their gripes and affirmations to their housemates and humans. Yes, in a multi-cat household, a scratching post area is like the suggestion box of the cat world. Can you imagine all the notes they are leaving for each other? Or for you! “Human, that new cat food you bought has got to!”
  5. Scratching provides exercise and amusement and can be a great form of interactive play and bonding with you. NOTE: Do not encourage cats to play with your hands, always use interactive toys. So get out that wand toy and get your cat dancing around the scratching post!
  6. Scratching feels as good for cats as yoga or stretching feels to us. It makes them feel happy and contented with their surroundings and everything in it.

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Things you can do to entice your cat to scratch his scratching post

Rub generous sprinklings of dried catnip along the length of the scratching post to attract your cat. Honestly, what cat wouldn’t be attracted to this!?
So your cat is not attracted to catnip? No problem, try some cat vine sticks or cat vine powder and rub it on the scratching post for spine wriggling cat fun. Just be careful your fingers don’t get in the way as they scratch quite vigorously against the post when trying to grab the stick.
Find an extra tall and sturdy scratching post to give your cat a good stretch. If the scratching post is too short or flimsy and can easily be toppled over it may discourage your cat. The kitties’ go-to and communal scratch post is the Ultimate Scratching Post. The cats have been using this for the past 5 years and we really should get another one or two for upstairs!
Play with your cat using a toy that gets him up and jumping, such as a wand toy to encourage scratching the post. Our favorite now, which has been around a long time is the Cat Dancer toy. Seriously, for such a simple toy, it generates the most jumps, backflips and scratching post action than most cat toys. We also love the popular Da Bird feather toy which is still a firm favorite for those cats attracted to the sound of feathers flying. Beware of copy cats or imitations, if it’s not from Go Cat, it doesn’t quite fly like the bird and the ones with bells get annoying pretty quickly! In our video below, our ground-scratcher Sly Pie plays at the scratching post with his favorite, the cat catcher mouse that resembles a real mouse, also made by Go Cat.
From the cat’s mouth, a note from Sly Pie

Scratching serves many purposes, us cats do not just scratch for sitz and giggles. We don’t scratch because we think the couch needs a cat makeover. We don’t scratch because we’re upset about your new boyfriend. Scratching is written in our DNA and it’s part of who we are.

In our latest Caturday Voodle, I demonstrate my skillful scratching wiggle that any cat can easily do. With the help of my purry housemates, I give encouragement to Charlie but he prefers to be in a state of inertia. Charlie is a ‘big-boned’ boy and resists any change to his state of rest or speed. This is one lad that keeps a leisurely pace about everything in life, even during playtime.

That’s okay, I don’t think he’s going to give the couch a makeover anytime soon. Mr. Couch Potato is too lazy for that!

Sly Pie cat demonstrates the use of the scratching post

What do you think of my stretch, wiggle and scratch technique? I’m sure all you good kitties have some interesting and unique scratchy moves yourselves. Please do chirp and share in the comments below. This curious tuxedo capri pants would love to know!

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How to Use Your Scratching Post Like a Boss

About the author

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Chirpy Cats

We are a clowder of cheeky chirpy felines sharing our space with two humans who adore us. We love to share tips on helping cats live enriched lives with their people and other fun cat stuff.

23 Comments

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    • This scratching post has lasted for a few years, looking a little ratty at the bottom but otherwise quite sturdy. Always fun for kitties to get a new one!

  • I like to get in a REALLY GOOD STRETCH when I scratch and oh my mouses, YOU SHOULD SEE our newest scratchin’ post. It’s like three feet high! Maybe even higher. I can stretch right out while usin’ that thing. Peeps searched high and low to find us a scratchin’ post suitable for our size. purrs

  • This is a great post – I will have to read this to my cat later and let her watch the video so she can master those boss like scratching skills! 🙂

  • When living in Israel I had 3 cats and remember having scratching posts which they loved but now reading your post I understand more. We talking about 10 – 15 years ago.

  • Cute video! I can honestly say your tips work. I do remember the catnip trick working like a charm for my girls when I wanted them to use their scratching pad. Seamless everytime.

  • The first cat I ever had destroyed two different sofas, but she kept her claws the 19 years she was on this Earth. I’ve been very lucky with Praline, Truffle, and Brulee, They all use a scratching post. Every once in a while, Brulee likes to scratch on the carpet. I got a new chair with different material a couple of years ago and Brulee started scratching on the corner. To solve the problem, I put a scratching post at that corner and now she used it.

  • Let’s keep our cats intact! NO to declawing indeed! Even house cats NEED their claws because let’s face it – cats are sneaky and find ways to get out!
    My Tibet, she scratches any doorway wood – I try to get her to stop and holler at her but she does it anyway. I know she is ruining my wood but you know, I don’t care. I love her more than that wood and I can replace the wood.
    She has very nice scratching posts and I do put catnip on it.
    The funny thing is, Tibet scratches the wood only in my bedroom.
    The ensuite bath doorway and the bedroom doorway itself.
    She only does this in the morning when she wants me to wake up.
    Is that a behavioral issue? LOL I think it’s intellligence 🙂

  • Both my cats use scratch posts and they prefer the burlap ones like in the pic (although they get ripped apart easily), then the cardboard ones, then the carpeted ones – those not so much. In total, there’s a least five in the house. Fortunately, neither needs to be enticed to use them.

  • What a cute little video and a great way to get the chirpy cats to scratch. I wish they would make a scratching pad for dogs so that I wouldn’t have to sand Gusto’s nails every few days.

    • Thank you Valentine! Charlie does use it when he’s the only kitty at the post. And wouldn’t that make a unique craft idea, using the bits of kitty nail! If we think of an idea you will be the first the know, Valentine 😽

  • That kitty toy that flies through the air looks like fun! Mom throws balls that fly through the air but they aren’t as wiggly and look easier to chase! You cats look like good pals!

  • We’re lucky as all our cats go for the scratching post, instead of furniture. Although there have been known to be the accidental ‘tear’ on the sofa, but that always was an accident.

    • That’s great! We’re also really lucky our cats write their ‘text messages’ on their scratching posts. But there will always be little accidents when they slip off a couch or use it as a springboard mol!

  • My first cat loved his post. My current cat? He’s a horizontal scratcher, and would much rather tear up the carpeting where it meets the tile! Yikes! I’ve offered him a cardboard scratcher, but after using it for a bit–I swear he was just humoring me!–he quit scratching on it and went back to various patches of carpeting. Sigh.

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