Here’s a great article helping your adult cat or kitten to develop good scratching habits – good for them and good for you!
The method is the same for any kitten/adult cat…have some fun with the process and bond with your special kitten/cat!
Place their sisal scratching post/furniture in an area they use the most; near their favorite sleeping place, or places they most like to rest and play are good spots.
DO NOT put their paws on the scratching post and force them to scratch; that will only confuse them. (Kittens are born knowing how to scratch; restraining your kitten/cat and then dragging their paws over the scratching post may be very unpleasant and may actually cause them to avoid the post.)
Imitate scratching by using your own fingers on the scratching post (scratching up and down the post to stimulate them to scratch); this often gives them the “right” idea about what they’re supposed to do.
DO encourage scratching on the post by playing with dangle-toys on or near the scratching post/furniture; dangle a peacock feather or any other enticing toy right next to the scratching post/furniture (or slowly drag it up the post) and as they go for the toy/feather and dig into the post, they’ll feel its irresistible texture. If that doesn’t work, you might try placing the scratching post/furniture on its side and enticing kitty by dangling the toy/feather all around it. As they jump on the post or paw at the toy/feather, they’ll discover the texture, and they may begin to scratch it at that point. Put the scratching post/furniture upright once kitty knows what it’s all about.
Cat furniture – especially the sisal scratching posts – may be scented with catnip or catnip spray but don’t overdo it, once a week is enough while training them to use it, then periodically as a treat after that (it’s easy for kittens to develop a resistance to the effects of catnip when they are exposed to it at a young age, so wait on that or use it sparingly with kittens). Use praise (lots of it) and food rewards when they scratch the post, so they associate the scratching post with a pleasant response.
Put their favorite food treats on some of the platforms to entice them to climb to higher levels.
Coax them over to the scratching post/furniture after their nap (most cats scratch immediately from waking while performing stretching exercises) and scratch the post with your fingers at a high point on the scratching post/furniture. Again, praise them profusely if they make scratching motions.
If they refuse to use the scratching post/furniture, try again later. NEVER force them to use it, as they may then associate it with something unpleasant. Remember, cats have a mind of their own and do not like being forced into anything. Be patient yet persistent when teaching your cats these new habits and eventually it will pay off. Imagine…scratch-free furnishings and a happier co-existence with your pet, it’s a win-win situation.
You’ll be able to tell if kitty is using the scratching post/furniture when you notice small, crescent-shaped nail sheaths at the base of the post(s).