If you live in a multicat environment you may be fortunate enough to have cats who are completely happy sharing one scratching post. In most cases though, one or more of the cats may not feel comfortable using the “community” post. Just as with litter box placement, it may cause anxiety for one cat to have to cross through another cat’s area in order to get to the post. In that case, kitty may find it less stressful and more convenient to scratch on whatever surface is readily available. If that object is a piece of furniture then that’s a not a very good solution at all.
Offering Choices May Ease Tension in Your Multicat Household
Even though you can’t direct each individual cat to exclusively use a designated post, it’s beneficial to provide multiple scratching options. One of the best and easiest ways to relieve kitty tension is by providing choice.
Allow for Different Preferences Among Cats
Some cats have very particular preferences when it comes to the type of scratching material most appealing or whether they want to scratch horizontally or vertically. When you provide multiple options in terms of texture, type and location, you stand a better chance of easing tension and satisfying individual preferences.
Provide more than one scratching post and more than one type for multicat homes. Place posts and horizontal scratch pads around different rooms so a cat doesn’t have far to go if she has the urge to scratch.
Observe your cats and you’ll soon learn which one likes to scratch after a nap, which one scratches after playing, after using the litter box, when anticipating dinner, when the doorbell rings, etc. When you learn a cat’s preference you can place posts in the best locations to allow for perfectly timed scratching.
Even Small Multicat Environments Need Multiple Options
Even if you live in a small apartment you can provide multiple scratching options. Scratch pads can be attached to walls. If you have a cat tree in the environment, wrap the support posts with sisal so it can serve double-duty as both a tree and a scratching post. If you have a cat who prefers scratching on bare wood, leave one of the support posts unwrapped.
Corrugated cardboard scratching pads are also great for small environments because they don’t take up much room.
Marking Behavior in Cats
Since scratching is a form of both visual and olfactory marking, it can add to overall tension if one cat goes over to scratch and is faced with the evidence that an opponent cat has recently just scratched there. You may find that by supplying more than one post, the cats may be able to claim their own little scratching post turf. Since scratching is also a displacement behavior, the ability to scratch instead of engaging in a conflict might help maintain harmony.
Locations of Scratching Posts
In addition to placing posts in areas where particular cats may tend to spend more time, it can also be helpful to place posts or scratching pads along common pathways or high-traffic areas. For example, if the living room is an area where all cats tend to hang out in order to be close to you, it may be helpful for a cat who is experiencing conflicting emotions, is anxious or excited, to be able to release some of that emotion through scratching. Being in the room with his companion cats might create a higher level of excitement so he’ll have the option of being able to scratch.
You can even use the convenient location of posts to your benefit when cats are together. If you notice an increase in tension, go over to the post yourself and rake your own nails up and down the surface. Very often, the enticing familiar sound will trigger a cat to run over and start scratching as well.
When it comes to creating a peaceful multicat home, the more choice you offer, the greater the chance of kitty harmony.
Need More Scratching or Multi-cat Information?
For specific information on furniture scratching issues or solutions to multicat household behavior problems, refer to the book Cat vs. Cat. This first-of-its-kind book covers the unique problems that multicat homes face. You can also find the latest cat behavior information in CatWise, the latest book from best-selling author, Pam Johnson-Bennett.