How can I get my cat to use a scratching post?

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Cats need to regularly scratch and use their nails. To prevent them from turning your sofa into confetti, here are some helpful tips to encourage your cat to use a scratching post:
• Make sure you purchase one your cat can reach and that she likes. Size is especially important, as most cats tend to stretch and reach upward when scratching. Some cats prefer to scratch carpet or upholstery, while others prefer cardboard, sisal posts, or wood. Before purchasing a scratching post, take notice of what objects your cat prefers scratching. If you have more than one cat, you might need to purchase more than one post.
• Place it in a room where your cat is comfortable and where she will notice it. Do not place the scratching post next to furniture, since the cat could be easily tempted to scratch the furniture instead, especially if it’s a piece of furniture she is used to scratching.
• Show your cat the scratching post by sitting her down nearby and picking or scratching at the post with your fingers. You might even want to place her paw on the post and praise her. Don’t wake your cat up or disturb her when she’s eating to do this; it’s very likely you’ll just put her in a bad mood.
• Rub dried catnip on the scratching post (daily if needed) to attract your cat to it. Or, you can rub a cloth that she’s already scratched or rub with a piece of your clothing. The scents will keep her coming back.
• Use positive reinforcement to reward your cat for using the scratching post. Pet, praise and treat when appropriate.
• Train your cat not to scratch on the furniture. When you notice your cat scratching the furniture, gently pick her up and place him at the scratching post.
• Trim your cat’s nails. Because cats scratch to wear down their nails, keeping their nails trimmed reduces their need to scratch and minimizes the damage done to furniture (since the nails are not as sharp). Some cat owners also prefer to use soft nail caps.

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