Train Your American Shorthair to Use the Scratching Post with Positive Reinforcement

You’re excited to bring home your new American Shorthair cat, but you quickly notice that they have a tendency to scratch at your furniture and belongings. As frustrating as it may be, it’s important to understand that scratching is a natural behavior for cats. Instead of getting upset with them, we can use positive reinforcement techniques to train them to use a scratching post instead. In this article, we’ll explore why American Shorthairs scratch, how to choose the right scratching post, and step-by-step instructions on how to train your furry friend using positive reinforcement. So, grab your treats and let’s get started!

Why Do American Shorthairs Scratch?

Why Do American Shorthairs Scratch?
Cat owners often wonder why their furry companions insist on scratching everything in sight, from the furniture to the carpet. Understanding the reasons behind this behavior is an important step in training your American Shorthair to use the scratching post. Scratching is a natural and instinctual behavior that serves multiple purposes, such as marking territory, exercising, and stretching. In this section, we’ll delve deeper into the reasons why American Shorthairs scratch and how to use this knowledge to your advantage during training.

Instinctual Behavior

Scratching is a natural instinct for cats, and American Shorthairs are no exception. They have a natural urge to dig their claws into surfaces, and if you don’t provide them with an appropriate outlet for this behavior, they may turn to your furniture instead. Understanding this instinctual behavior is crucial to training your American Shorthair to use the scratching post.

Here are some key things to know about your cat’s instinctual scratching behavior:

  • Scratching is a form of exercise: When your cat scratches, it’s not only to sharpen her claws, but also to stretch her muscles. This is why it’s crucial to provide a scratching post that is tall enough for her to stretch her entire body.
  • Cats scratch to mark their territory: Scratching lets other cats know that this is their territory, and it also helps your cat feel more secure in her own space. A scratching post can be a great tool for helping your American Shorthair feel more at home in your house.
  • Cats scratch to relieve stress: Scratching also has a soothing effect on cats, which can help to reduce stress and anxiety. This is another reason why providing an appropriate scratching surface for your American Shorthair is so important.

By understanding your cat’s natural scratching behavior, you can choose a scratching post that will truly meet her needs and help you succeed in training her to use it.

Marking Territory

When an American Shorthair scratches, one reason may be to mark their territory. By scratching, cats leave behind visual and scent markers that signal to other cats that this area is claimed. American Shorthairs have a strong sense of territoriality, and scratching is one way they establish their space. It’s important to understand that this behavior is instinctual and natural, so it’s not realistic to expect your cat to stop entirely. However, with some positive reinforcement training, you can redirect them towards a more appropriate area for scratching.

Understanding why your American Shorthair scratches can help you solve problem scratching. By providing them with a designated area for scratching, you are giving them a place where they can engage in this activity without damaging furniture or carpeting. By choosing a sturdy, tall scratching post, you are also providing them with the chance to stretch and strengthen their muscles. This not only benefits their health but also their mental well-being.

Pros of Optional Training Methods Cons of Omitting Training Techniques
Cat learns to identify the desired scratching surface Damaged furniture and flooring
Promotes healthy muscle development Decreased lifespan of furniture and flooring
Lessens furniture/turf wars between cat and owner Aggression from cat when owner confronts scratching behavior

It’s important to understand that training is not just about stopping bad behavior, but also promoting good behavior. By providing your American Shorthair with positive reinforcement training, you are establishing yourself as a trusted and caring owner. This can lead to a stronger bond with your cat and a happier environment for everyone.

If your cat has been scratching inappropriately, start by providing a scratching post near the area they like to scratch. Regularly clip their nails to prevent them from hurting themselves or damaging surfaces. Use deterrents to keep them away from areas you don’t want them to scratch. Consider introducing catnip to the scratching post to make it more enticing. Reinforce good behavior by giving treats when they use the scratching post appropriately. For more detailed information on positive reinforcement training techniques, check out Using Treats for Training American Shorthairs and American Shorthair Positive Reinforcement Commands. Remember to stay patient and persistent when training your cat, and you will be rewarded with a well-behaved and happy American Shorthair.

Exercising and Stretching

As much as we might not understand it, scratching is a natural and instinctual behavior in American Shorthairs. It not only allows them to mark their territory but also to stretch and exercise their muscles. Providing your cat with a scratching post that meets their needs is essential in preventing them from damaging your furniture and other household items.

Exercising and Stretching is a crucial reason why your American Shorthair needs a scratching post. As cats scratch, they are not only pulling and flexing their muscles, but they are also releasing tension. It is not uncommon to see your cat stretching up on their hind legs to scratch on a vertical post, as this allows them to work their core and leg muscles.

Providing a horizontal scratching post is also beneficial for your cat as it allows them to stretch their spine and shoulders. A scratching post that is sturdy and tall enough for your cat to stretch to their full height is an excellent way to keep your American Shorthair healthy and happy.

Here are some additional tips to ensure your cat gets the most out of their scratching post:

Tip Description
Catnip Adding a little bit of catnip to the scratching post can help entice your cat to use it. Not all cats respond to catnip, so it’s essential to monitor your cat’s behavior when you introduce it.
Trimming Nails Trimming your cat’s nails is a great way to keep them from scratching your furniture. However, it is essential to provide them with a scratching post as well to meet their natural instincts.
Deterrents Using deterrents such as double-sided tape or aluminum foil on your furniture can help train your cat to use their scratching post instead. However, it is crucial to remember to use positive reinforcement alongside these deterrents.
Stay Patient and Persistent Training your American Shorthair to use a scratching post takes time and patience. Consistency is key, and it’s essential to reward good behavior and discourage bad behavior consistently. For more information on positive reinforcement training, check out our article on Benefits of Positive Reinforcement Training for Anxious Cats.

By choosing the right scratching post and providing your American Shorthair with a cat-friendly environment, you can prevent them from damaging your furniture and enjoy a happy and healthy cat.

Choosing the Right Scratching Post

Choosing The Right Scratching Post
Choosing the perfect scratching post for your American Shorthair may seem like a daunting task. With so many options available, it’s essential to consider several factors to ensure your cat will use it regularly. By selecting the right size and type of material, determining the post’s orientation, and choosing the best location for it, you can improve your chances of success in training your cat to use the scratching post. In this section, we will explore these factors and provide tips and tricks to make your American Shorthair’s scratching post an irresistible place to scratch.

Size and Type of Material

When selecting a scratching post for your American Shorthair, the size and type of material are two crucial factors to consider. A scratching post that is too small or unstable may not be satisfying for your cat, while a post made of the wrong materials may not appeal to your cat’s natural scratching instincts.

Size: The scratching post should be tall enough for the cat to fully stretch and scratch vertically. It should also be sturdy enough to withstand the cat’s weight and force when scratching. A post that is too small or wobbly may not be satisfying for your cat or may even tip over, which can lead to injuries.

Type of material: American Shorthairs generally prefer a post made of a rough and durable material, like sisal rope or corrugated cardboard. These materials allow the cat to dig their claws in and scratch to their heart’s content. Soft fabrics, like carpet or velvet, can be tempting to claw at, but they don’t provide the right texture for scratching, which can lead to frustration and further furniture damage.

When choosing the right materials, consider the preferences of your American Shorthair. Some cats may prefer a scratching post made out of wood or other materials, while others may prefer a post that hangs from a doorframe or attaches to a wall.

The size and type of material play a significant role in the effectiveness of the scratching post. Investing in a post that is both tall and sturdy, made of rough and durable materials that appeal to your cat’s natural instincts, can go a long way in preventing them from damaging your furniture and carpets.

Vertical or Horizontal?

When choosing a scratching post for your American Shorthair, it’s important to consider whether you want a vertical or horizontal post. Each option has its benefits, and the decision ultimately comes down to your cat’s preferences.


  • A vertical post is great for cats who like to stretch high and scratch their claws downward.
  • It takes up less floor space, which can be ideal for smaller homes or apartments.
  • It can also double as a great way for your cat to stretch their back muscles and get some exercise.


  • A horizontal post is great for cats who like to scratch while lying down or crouching.
  • It can also be helpful for cats who are older or have arthritis because they don’t have to stand up to scratch.
  • Some horizontal posts even come with interactive toys attached, providing your cat with even more stimulation.

Ultimately, whether you choose a vertical or horizontal post, what’s most important is that it has a sturdy base, is made of durable material, and is tall enough for your cat to fully stretch out. Take into consideration your cat’s scratch preferences and behavior when making your decision.

Location, Location, Location

When choosing the right scratching post for your American Shorthair, location is an important factor to consider. You want to make sure that your cat’s scratching post is placed in a spot where they will enjoy using it and where it will be easy for them to access whenever they feel the urge to scratch. Here are some tips for finding the perfect location for your cat’s scratching post:

  • Choose a visible area: Cats like to scratch in visible areas, so make sure that the scratching post is placed somewhere where your cat can see it. This can be in a living room, bedroom, or other high-traffic area.
  • Keep it away from favorite resting spots: Cats like to scratch when they wake up from a nap, make sure to place the scratching post away from their favorite resting spots to prevent them from accidentally scratching furniture or other surfaces that they like to nap on.
  • Place it near existing scratch marks: If your cat already has a favorite spot to scratch, or has been using your furniture as a scratching post, try placing the new scratching post in the same area to encourage them to switch over.
  • Make sure it’s stable: Your cat will want to scratch with enthusiasm, so make sure that the scratching post is stable and won’t topple over when they use it. You can either choose a heavy, sturdy scratching post or attach it to a wall for extra support.

By keeping these tips in mind, you will be able to find the perfect location for your cat’s scratching post and encourage them to use it regularly. Remember, consistency is key when it comes to training your cat to use their scratching post, so make sure to reinforce positive behavior with rewards and discourage negative behavior using gentle redirection techniques.

Positive Reinforcement Training