How to Train Your Kitten on Scratching

Learn to train your kitten on scratching from the beginning.

So you're getting a new kitten, and you want to make sure she gets the idea right from the beginning that she shouldn't scratch your furniture or other belongings. You've arrived here looking for help.


It's much easier to avert cat scratching problems from the beginning rather than trying to deter them once they're a habit. Not only that, but setting up your home to have the right scratching environment for your kitten helps ensure she'll enjoy a happy, healthy scratching life, and that's important for her overall well-being.

What to Do Before You Get Your Kitten

Before you ever bring your kitten home, you need to think about scratching posts and pads. Making sure you have the right scratching environment in your home is right up there with planning for a good veterinarian, kitten-proofing your house, and thinking about litter box placement and cleanliness. It's crucial.

It's normal and healthy for cats to scratch things. They do it for the following reasons:

  • To keep their muscles, tendons, and ligaments stretched out and healthy.
  • To blow off steam and release stress.
  • To mark their territory with odors from the scent glands in their paws and visible scratches.
  • To groom their claws, removing the outer, dry, dull husks.

So when you get a kitten, you need to prepare for scratching. Expecting a cat to refrain from scratching is setting them up for stress. Your cat is going to scratch, so you might as well lay the groundwork for having her do so on your terms rather than hers, which might include ruining your sofa.

Before you get your new kitten, spend some time thinking about where you'll put scratching posts and pads. You'll need to have at least one on every level of your home. Be sure you plan for different sizes and shapes of scratching posts. Tall posts, angled posts, and trees with multiple scratching surfaces are all great for cats and can fit well into different home areas. Cats like variety in their scratching environment, and they love to scratch in different positions.

Posts should be in high-traffic spots in your home because a major reason for cat scratching is to mark territory. If you hide a post away, your kitten probably won't use it because it will be worthless for sending the message that it's her home.

You also want to choose posts that are covered in a good scratching material. Carpet and sisal rope can catch cats' claws and pull on them, which is uncomfortable and even painful. Sisal fabric and heavy corrugated cardboard are better scratching substrates because they don't pull on sensitive toes, but they make a satisfying sound and feel good under a cat's claws. These surfaces mimic cats' favorite scratching substrate in the wild: tree trunks.

Set up Your Scratching Posts and Show Your Kitten

When you bring your kitten home, it can help to show her where the scratching posts are. Take her near them and use a wand toy to encourage her to sink her claws into them. Just get her playing with the wand to and then run it over the post slowly so she attacks it and her claws go into the post. That helps her learn the post is there and that it feels great to scratch.

Be ready to distract your kitten if she starts to scratch an inappropriate item like your sofa. Throw a toy away from the area and reward her for chasing it. Encourage her to scratch the post instead and reward her.

Don't Consider Declawing

Declawing your kitten is not the right way to avoid scratching damage in your home. The surgery that removes a cat's claws for good is actually an amputation up to the first joint of each declawed toe. It's painful, both short and long-term, and it can actually cause behavioral problems like inappropriate urination and biting.

Instead, do some prep work by choosing great scratching posts, putting them in high traffic areas of your home, showing your kitten where they are, and praising her when she uses them. That way, both you and your kitten will have a long, happy relationship together.

You May Also Like These Articles:

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How to Fight Declawing in Your Town

Spaying and Neutering vs. Declawing: Which Surgeries Are Humane?

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.