Recently, we got a new couch. We’d had used furniture for a long time, and in a way, it allowed me to get lax — I never worried much about whether the cats scratched the furniture because it was ancient anyway, and not the most beautiful pieces in the furniture universe. I got lucky — I didn’t have a lot of trouble, though Kali (now deceased) loved to scratch a particular corner of an ancient futon. We got a washable cover to place on it, which generally seemed to make the cats want to scratch less, and it made me forget about the previous scratching.
But when we spent a few hundred dollars on a new couch, I started thinking more about providing good scratching options for my cats. I believed that cats would be more tempted to scratch if the fabric on the couch had an obvious nap (a texture that had something for the cats to grab onto and dig claws into), so I chose a microfiber that was smooth.
The saleslady (a cat person) said that when she purchased new furniture, she placed the cat scratching post in a prominent place in the living room. Picture a room with a couch, and a coffee table in front of the couch. The cat scratching post would replace the coffee table.
The saleslady theorized that the cats liked being the center of attention in the room and they would head right to the scratching post and use it. I wondered whether the cats enjoyed being the center of attention or the cat scratching apparatus had simply been placed in an area that was easier for the cats to use. Regardless, we had a few days until the couch actually, so I took the saleslady’s advice. We had a small cat scratching post. I knew it was inadequate (not tall enough, not enough scratching area), though the cats did love the little tube area to play in. I ordered a taller and more sturdy scratching post. We set them both in the center of the room, right in front of the couch.
Did it work? Yes. The cats loved the addition of a sturdier and taller scratching post. At the same time, they still loved to play in the smaller version, and they scratch on it, too.
I believe they also like having the posts out in the open. It’s easier to approach them from any side. I believe that having these scratching opportunities out in the open also encourages the cats to really stretch out, use their bodies, and scratch. We have not seen them scratching the new furniture so far.
Cat expert Rita Reimers agreed with my findings, and she added this advice:
“Offer a variety of scratchers of different types that are available throughout the cat’s environment. Tucking all of them in corners or just offering one scratcher is setting you up for failure. Our cats want to be where we are, so set up scratchers in places where the cats can be with us, be it the living room, bedroom, or office.”
Reimers also sprays scratchers with catnip spray.
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About Catherine Holm: Cat Holm is the author of The Great Purr, the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, and a contributor to Rescued: The Stories of 12 Cats, Through Their Eyes. She’s also a yoga instructor. Cat love living in nature and being outside every day, even in winter. She is mom to six adorable cats, all of them rescues.