General Question

gailcalled's avatar

How do you teach a strong-willed cat (who shall be nameless) to use a scratching post?

Asked by gailcalled (54631points) August 15th, 2008

I have 30 screens on windows with wide sills, or sliders. Himself saunters to all of them and stretches, hooks himself on and then stretches some more, causing severe damage to screens. I can’t buy a dozen posts.

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34 Answers

imcrazy23's avatar

i like the name Milo. it sounds nice.
i think the trick is to stop him dead in his tracks whenever he walks away from the scratching post and lift him back to the scratching post then sooner or later he will catch your drift. hopefully

gailcalled's avatar

The problem is that the house has too many rooms (12), floors (3), and odd windowed spaces for me to pussyfoot after him constantly. Plus I do like to go out occasionally. I hear him at night, too, when I am trying to get to sleep, using the wicker doors of a really nice bureau for the same purpose.

Check this out for the other feline Milo, and the canine Milo and the human Milo, who have fluther relatives.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

A scratching post won’t help me…my cat launches himself onto my screens from outside when he wants to come in. He hangs there like some sort of kitty jesus until I reach around and pull (gently) him off. I have taken to squirting him with water as he hangs there, but dammit, I think he likes it. Little fart head…

popo7676's avatar

I would suggest buying a spray bottle and squirt him when he uses the other things for scratching. You should also put a post on each floor or around where he rests the most. You just have to show him your the boss and he cant always do what he wants.

Carla's avatar

Cats will only use the scratching post if it is convenient for them to do so. With that many rooms you will need a few more scratching posts. Put one in each of the rooms that your Milo frequents the most.

tinyfaery's avatar

Not all cats like to scratch vertically; try a horizontal scratch pad, like the cardboard kind.
Also, a cat might prefer rope to carpet. At night, try restricting him to one area of the house. Don’t lock him in a room or anything, but if you can, keep him confined to a smallish area.

You can try rubbing catnip where you want him to scratch as well.

And I don’t think there is a cat in existence who is not strong-willed.

gailcalled's avatar

I have had the same experience as Sueanne T. During a severe thunderstorm, in the early days of Milo’s having taken up residency here, he snuck out somehow.

At about three AM., his piteous mewing woke me. It took a while to discover him hanging off a second-story screen, from the outside. He had leapt onto a garage roof, a dining room room, lunged upwards, and attached his claws to a screen, which was amazingly in my bedroom. I unscrewed the screen and Milo fell inside, a pathetic sight. But high marks for intelligence.

I thought he had freaked out due to storm and was curled up in some too-small box or basket.

And I am subservient; it is clear who is the boss. He insists on sleeping in my bedroom; litter box is in basement so I have to leave doors open. I tried crossing him on these arrangements during week one. I backed down first after some messy and smelly messages, left in spots where I could not miss them.

And he is a moving target. Every few days he has another favorite spot; on top of the piano, on sofas, on chairs, on beds, under dining room table, and for fifteen minutes at bedtime, on me. I can now lift 12 lbs with my abs., while lying down.

gailcalled's avatar

@All; I believe that I simply wait until Milo goes back to my daughter or on to his rest in the great beyond. If I am still here, I will replace all screens. I really wanted only a forum in which to whine.

tinyfaery's avatar

Oh Gail. You should have asserted your dominance early. I notice my boy cat will attempt to assert himself, but, he always knows who’s boss.

redsgirl4eva's avatar

Try to put catnip on the scratching post and for stuff you don’t want your cat to scratch put a little vinegar on it. This has worked for me. The vinegar smell cats do not like. Hope you can figure it out.

gailcalled's avatar

edit: dining room roof.

@Tiny; when he first arrived (we celebrate our 4-month anniversary tomorrow) I had had no experience and treated him like an infant. By the time I caught on, it was too late.
(Too bad you live too far away to drop over and whip M into shape.)

@Reds: I hate the smell of vinegar. And except for one funny moment, Milo has snubbed the dried catnip. I even bought him his own plant. I keep dragging him to it or the leaves to him.

Kay's avatar

Rub catnip on the scratching post; you want the kitty to associate good things with using the scratching post as opposed to another surface.

Bri_L's avatar

@ Kay – brilliant!

Kay's avatar

@Bri- Thanks :) It’s worked really well in the past for some stubborn kitties I’ve had.

gailcalled's avatar

See me ^^ above. Milo is not particularly attracted to catnip. Now the lettuce leaf from my tuna salad that just fell on the floor is a different story. He licked off the tuna and left the lettuce. And he is sulking, I think, because there is some crumbled cat food around the edges of the dish. His expression now is what I can only call baleful.

Bri_L's avatar

@ gail – there you go gail smear it with stinky tuna! ;-) ewwwww

Kay's avatar

Hmm, maybe try giving the kitty a treat if/when he uses the scratching post? You need to associate something positive with using the scratching post for him to want to use it.

gailcalled's avatar

My daughter is a fierce taskmaster; no treats. I am probably only slightly more frightened of her than the cat. (j/k). I gave him an almost empty cup of vamilla ice cream w. a few chocolate ripples to lick. He had the runs after that, and I have learned that dairy will give cats cramps, in spite of his short memory and eagerness to rip the dish out of my hands when I try to eat more.

One of his pleasures, but only at the times of his choosing, is having his ears, head, cheeks and neck stroked. But I can’t predict when he will purr and when he will nip.

marinelife's avatar

There are sprays you can buy to spray on the screens (and bureau) to discourage him. If he does not like catnip, try another cat attracting scent. I have also had good luck with the corrugated cardboard scratching trays.

Also, you are nearing critical time limit. If not yet, soon, Milo will be yours permanently unless you get him back to her.

Yours for bug-free living,


stratman37's avatar

It’s like the cat KNOWS it’s wrong to scratch furniture, but HAS to do it anyway. If she makes eye contact with me when I catch her in the act, she looks at me like “I can’t help it, instinct!”

gailcalled's avatar

@M: She is 3400 miles away, and in BC, to boot. Unless I teach Milo how to drive and negociate the border patrol, I think we are bonded. (If truth be told,I am quite astonished at how fond I am of him, in spite of occasional moments of pique on both our sides.)

I have a large lump on my shoulder. Luckily there is a small hole in the center so that I don’t have to rush to dermatologist.

@stratman; I am learning slowly but have caught Milo giving me “the look.” Initially I snuck around and hid behind large pieces of furniture. Every time I peeked, he was glaring.

Tantigirl's avatar

Some cats don’t like the smell of citrus, especially oranges. You could try leaving some orange peel around, or spray your screens with citrus oil.

gailcalled's avatar

@Tanti: now that’s a suggestion I may try. Rather the smell of lemon oil than tuna.

Thank you.

sccrowell's avatar

@ Gailcalled,
I meant to tell you about Sticky Paws On-a-Roll about a week ago, but because of my hectic work schedule, I completely forgot. That is until WTF mention “Milo.”

The past coupled of years, we have had 3 indoor/outdoor cats as well as two more that we were cat sitting for my daughter. Thomas, was a holy terror. He would claw anything and everything including me. It wasn’t until he started on my furniture, the arms, legs and then the back of my couch, that I realized how quickly he was damaging them. You name it, nothing was safe with Thomas!
Then while at the vet’s (having Thomas’s toenails trimmed) I over heard my Vet talking to someone about this stuff. How well it worked. Well, I tried it and IT WORKS!!!!

I’Il never forget how he reacted the first time his paws touch it this Sticky Paws tape. It stop cats from scratching and destroying furniture. Sticky Paws adhesive protects your furniture from cat scratches safely and effectively. It is also Non-toxic and it’s on-a-roll so, it is easy to apply & remove. I guess it was on the furniture for about a month perhaps two. But the bottom line is that Thomas no longer is scratching out furniture. These can be applied on any surface. it will not damage it…
Try it! Good luck!

syz's avatar

The double sided tape is a fantstic idea. If he stands on the sills to scratch, you can put it there, or just a strip across the level at which he usually digs in his nails.

In extreme need, I have used upside down mouse traps, too. I’ve used them on countertops – when the cat jumps up and brushes against the traps, they snap loudly and fly into the air. It startles the cat so much that it associates that area with something unpleasant and never returns (in theory). It usually works well, it’s just a bugger to get those traps set and upside down without them flying up in the air at me.

There is also the options of “SoftPaws”, which are little clear plastic tips that get glued onto cats nails and prevent them from having sharp edges. They last few a few weeks. In Milo’s case, I would recommend application at the veterinary clinic.

susan9954's avatar

if you see the cat try and scratch the chair or screen or what every just gently move him to preferred scratching area. We have both the rope and cardboard type. He likes the cardboard one the most.

Also try to keep the nails trimmed our cat really digs into things when they need cut. It is his way of telling us to cut his nails.

syz's avatar

I have this image of gail slowly moving through a house completely covered in two sided tape, pulling herself laboriously off of sticky peices of furniture with that ripping sound.

sccrowell's avatar

Oh syz… What a picture you have painted… LOL.

Ahh Gail, if you haven’t tried this method, you must… It really does work. It doesn’t look quite as bad as it sounds, but more importantly? It works! Eventually you’ll be able to remove it all (I say this with my fingers crossed)

Seesul's avatar

All of the above, and never, EVER, walk passed him without acknowledging his royal worthiness and existence.

gailcalled's avatar

We celebrated our fourth-month anniversary, as I said somewhere else, on Sat. M got to ride in the car to the Humane Society and get his nails done (and then throw up on the trip home). The kids who volunteer said that there is screening mesh that is cat-safe. I will investigate..

I love my clean and uncluttered house now that the rambunctious gang has grown up. Double-sided sticky tape I will have to think about..

Allengreen has made very disparaging (and inaccurate) remarks about the Milo threads.
Feel free to ignore my questions re: him (Mile and not AG).

syz's avatar

@ gail: I wouldn’t worry about it, since AG makes disparaging remarks about everything and everyone.

gailcalled's avatar

Milo is loading the shot gun; I will try to disarm him.

syz's avatar

(It will be hard for him to pull the trigger with no thumbs.)

Seesul's avatar

In my mind, syz, Milo is a cartoon cat with three fingers and opposable thumbs. If my cat can bring me bings for my b’day, then Mr. Milo can do anything.

@gail: my last cat was on Pepcid (just like me). She would make it all the way home from the Kitty Hotel (about 30 miles from here) only to upchuck it all at the last corner into the neighborhood. So far (fingers and toes crossed) my new baby hasn’t lost her cookies once, not even a hair-ball, even though she eats anything and everything she can find. She does, however pounce rather painfully on my twins.

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