When a cat likes her scratching post and uses it exclusively, chances are, it will eventually start looking a bit ragged. Better the post looks ragged than the furniture, right? Even at that, since the scratching post is probably not one of the more attractive pieces of cat equipment you have in your house (the litter box probably ranks as the #1 least attractive), you may be tempted to toss out the old post and treat kitty to a brand new one. Before you do that, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.
From the Cat’s Perspective
Imagine it from your cat’s point of view. She spends all this time marking the scratching post and then suddenly it’s gone and replaced with one that doesn’t have any of her familiar scents or marks. Her old scratching post was a comfort to her. In a multicat home with more than one scratching post, certain cats may have claimed specific posts or even specific areas on each post for marking.
So even though you might think you’re doing something wonderful for your cat by purchasing a brand new post and tossing out that old shredded one, you might actually be causing some anxiety.
The Better Way to Replace an Old Scratching Post
Purchase the new post and place it next to your cat’s current one. Let her take it for a test drive. She might start scratching on it exclusively or she may only periodically go for it. Have both posts there so she’ll have the choice. You can increase the new post’s appeal by rubbing a little catnip on it. To add some of your cat’s scent to it, take a clean sock and rub the old post down and then rub the new post. Don’t rub your cat with the sock because you don’t want to get her facial pheromones on it. Cats don’t typically scratch where they facially rub. Rubbing the old post will hopefully capture some of the scents from the scent glands located on your cat’s paw pads. These scents are released when the cat presses her paws against the post to scratch.
Upgrading to a Better Post
When getting a new post, if kitty has been successfully scratching on the current one, purchase a new one that has the same material. For example, sisal is a very popular material and most cats enjoy scratching it. So if the current post is sisal-covered, get another sisal-covered one. If however, the post you currently have is rather small because you got it when your cat was just a kitten, then upgrade to a taller post this time around so she can fully stretch out when scratching. It may be time to also consider adding a cat tree to your cat’s environment.
When to Toss the Old One
When you see your cat routinely using the new post you can then remove the old one. Just make sure it really is no longer functional for your cat. Just because it has a few shreds on it may mean it’s not as appealing from a human’s perspective but may still be the ideal post for your cat.
Need More Information?
For more specific information on scratching posts, furniture scratching problems or even how to construct a scratching post, refer to the book, Think Like a Cat.