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 feline companions.
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 me:
How 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 scratcher.
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 scratcher in most cases.
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 scratcher 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
Instead 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 scratcher, 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
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
A 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 scratcher, you will
have accomplished something really positive. And
you'll feel good about it).
3) PRAISE: 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 scratch post 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.