Mr. Big Taught Me About Scratching
Big was my most troublesome cat ever. He was probably more feral than tame when
he showed up in our back yard. But he was always getting into fights and getting
beat up, so we took him inside for good, along with the rest of our herd.
This animal loved to scratch our sofas and chairs. And the poor cat
had been frightened to death by something (or someone) before he came to us, so
it was really hard to bring ourselves to discipline him too harshly. After all,
he is just a little cat (why we called him Mr. Big is another story) . And he
meant no harm. A new strategy was in order, one that we applied to all of our
So, as I started up my cat furniture company,
and began testing models of scratchers in my own home, I learned a few things
by trial and error. Here you will find some of the things that Mr. Big taught
to Get Your Cat to Use a Scratcher
1) LOCATION: Place scratchers where your cat scratches.
Also, consider putting them between rooms, at high cat traffic areas. I am not
saying anything about a cat's IQ, but it seems that my cats have always liked
the surprise of seeing something tasty to scratch each time they've entered a
room. It's really not a reflection on a cat's intelligence. I just think he'll
be happy to put this in his routine if you can make it easy for him to come upon
a well-placed scratchers.
I don't need to tell you that your cats want
to be near you when you are sitting and relaxing (so here I am telling you..heh,
heh, heh). Make sure a post is convenient to these places (where you like to relax)
. Think in terms of more than one post (just like you have more than one chair!).
Yes, big surprise....we suggest you purchase more than one scratchers in
2) INTRODUCE & PLAY : The following method will
seem remarkably simple & obvious. But if you think about it from a cat's point
of view, it is bound to produce the desired result of helping your kitty discover
her scratchers on her own terms.
I will briefly tell you what did NOT
work with Mr. Big, or with any other cat we've come across over the years, and
that is MAKING the cat go through the act of scratching the post. If you think
about it for a moment, you'll agree that a cat must resist this to retain his
dignity and his independence ( and to frustrate and annoy you, you big bully!
). So, forget about putting his paws on the post and pretending with him that
he's scratching. It's just too heavy-handed for most cats, and will usually fail
to produce the desired result. Plus, it's a good way to wind up bleeding.
of bleeding, get a magazine so you can sit and read while you do this next step.
Also get a long piece of string (about a yard or so) . So, even before the cat
comes in the room, drape the string over the length of the post, and just hang
on to your end. Now sit next to the scratchers, and patiently wait for your
cat to come in the room. Sit very naturally, and do not appear interested in the
post, the cat, or the string. In fact just be very quiet and still, kind of like
you're dead - except you're not really dead. When your cat comes to investigate
your (fake) death, use the string to attract your cat to the post. Do this by
very slowly dragging it up the post to the very top. You can do this very smoothly
by "reeling" in the string around your index fingers. It's even possible
to fool your cat into thinking that the string is alive - and therefore some slithery
little prey that needs to be hunted down (or "hunted up" in this case).
As the cat notices the string's ascent up the pole, stop it for a moment, and
then restart it. I find that many cats will just climb right up the post after
the string. Once that's happened, the die is cast (as opposed to the cast being
dead). Your cat has found the best place to scratch all on his own. Well, not
really... but it'll be our little secret!
Truly, your cat knows that you've
participated in this little hoax. But he also knows that your did this with
him, and you didn't make him scratch there. You helped him see
where to scratch, and you also spent some quality time with him. There was no
yelling, no punishment, no forcing of any kind, and best of all, no frustration.
It was a piece of cake!
Your cat likes to play, and will appreciate the
attention. And you could use a little playtime with your cat, too. Enjoy it! Cats
are really good at playing! Maybe you are too serious to play? Oh I don't think
so... heh, heh, heh... Just give in to your inner cat.
note to the reluctant cat-owning member of the family: Maybe you're not totally
invested in this critter. I get that all the time & believe me, I do understand.
It took me forever to finally admit that I owned Mr. Big. But when you succeed
in getting your (wife's?) cat to use this scratchers, you will have accomplished
something really positive. And you'll feel good about it).
Praise your cat for using the post. Make happy, friendly sounds to encourage
your cat. If your cat has a favorite treat, you can even reward him when he scratches.
A little tender scratch behind his ears and a loving stroke is always a nice reward,
too. If only WE could get this kind of encouragement when we do positive things!
It really is just that simple, folks. Your
cat obviously WANTS to scratch, and he will prefer
a great scratcher to anything else. Give this
a try, OK? When it works for you, pass it along
to someone else who needs a little help. And by
all means, let us know if we've helped you solve
this common cat problem.