Whether you’ve just added a new cat to your family or you’ve received a hand-me-down cat scratcher, you may be wondering: will a cat use another cat’s scratching post?
A cat will sometimes, but not always, use another cat’s scratching post. They are more likely to scratch a used post if they know the other cat, such as when two household cats share a scratching post.
Beware of buying used cat furniture, as it can cause stress to your cats or carry diseases.
I’ll address this question more in-depth below, as well as providing some helpful tips for getting your cat to scratch pre-owned scratching posts and how to find or build new scratching posts for cheap.
Used Scratching Posts Can Carry Disease and Cause Stress
Buying a used scratching post can save you money, but it might not be the best route to take. This is because used scratching posts can carry diseases and cause your cat stress.
Diseases and illnesses can linger for extended periods after an ill cat uses a scratching post.
When it comes to stress, this happens because cats have scent glands on their paws that mark the things they scratch as “theirs.”
If your cat sees the scratching post as someone else’s territory, they might get stressed out waiting for the stranger to come and reclaim it. This is also a reason your cat might not even use a pre-owned scratching post.
On the extreme end, your cat may also display territorial behaviors such as becoming aggressive or spraying as a means of reclaiming their home as their own.
Items like scratching posts can also carry fleas, so be wary of who you’re buying from. I recommend taking hand-me-downs from a friend or family member who you knew had a healthy cat, rather than buying second-hand from strangers.
My family once took in a cat who we hadn’t been told had fleas, and though the previous owners had given him a flea bath, his furniture brought them into our home regardless. It’s not a fun time!
Your Cat does not Use the Scratching Post because they don’t see it as theirs
As discussed briefly above, cats scratch for a multitude of reasons, one of which is to mark their territory.
The scent released by a cat’s paws can last quite a while after the last use, and might deter your cat from using what they see as someone else’s belonging.
There are some things you can do to help this, as we’ll discuss below. But you should know that you might just have to buy a new scratching post for them in the end.
Use Catnip or Toys to Encourage Your Cat to Use a Pre-Owned Scratching Post
If your cat is not using a pre-owned scratching post, first answer this question: have they ever had a scratching post before? If not, you may have to teach them how to use it.
Try gently placing their paws on the post to show them what it’s for, or redirecting them when they scratch furniture by setting them in front of the scratching post instead.
This might take patience, but they’ll get the hang of it eventually.
You can also use catnip or toys to lure your cat to the scratching post. This is especially effective if your cat is being totally avoidant of the post due to another cat’s scent being on it.
If you’re lucky, your cat will begin to associate the scratching post with good things. They’ll learn there is no other cat to fear who’ll come along and take their furniture back.
Wash Used Scratching Posts Thoroughly
Another thing you can do to encourage your cat to use a pre-owned scratching post is to wash it thoroughly.
This can be difficult to do, though, as most scratching posts don’t come apart for easy washing. Try wiping wooden posts down with a damp cloth, or vacuuming a carpeted post and washing the fabric to the best of your ability.
Most scratching posts shouldn’t be hosed down or drenched with cleaning agents or water, because they have compressed wood beneath the sisal rope or carpeting. This will rot if soaked, so it’s better to use a damp cloth on the surface material.
You should also be cautious when it comes to the cleaning products you’re using. Make sure anything you apply to your cat’s furniture is pet-safe.
If your scratcher is part of a tower with detachable cushions or covers, you can run those through the wash to get them clean.
Replace Carpeting or Sisal Rope
Lastly, you can try replacing the carpeting or sisal rope on the used scratching post to get your cat to use it. This is the most difficult option, but it might be more cost-effective than buying something new.
Simply strip away the old rope or carpet and replace it. You can find both at your local hardware store.
Many Cats Will Use another Household Cat’s Scratching Post
When it comes to household cats sharing scratching posts, this is typically a different story. Your cats aren’t strangers to one another. Assuming that they get along, they’ll probably be fine sharing furniture.
That doesn’t mean that your multi-cat household should only have one scratching post in it, however.
Really, a single cat household shouldn’t even have one scratching post. Cats do better when they have a variety of things to scratch.
Different styles and materials are a must, but you don’t have to spend a ton of money to accomplish this.
In our nine-cat household, we have a few cat towers and traditional scratching posts, but we also allow our cats to scratch shipping boxes. These are a free horizontal scratchpad that they love!
Still, Multi-Cat Households Should have Several Scratching Posts
Even if your cats get along and are willing to share, having several scratching posts in your home will benefit them.
Just like your cat probably has a favorite spot that they keep to themselves, they may feel territorial over scratching posts and not wish to share them.
Spread the scratching posts out like you’d do with litter boxes or food bowls, placing them in separate rooms or corners. This ensures your cats see them each as a separate object.
Cheap Scratching Post Options
I know first-hand that cheap, quality scratching posts are hard to come by. With so many cats living in my home, I can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars per scratcher, so my family and I have had to get creative.
If I’ve talked you out of buying a used scratching post, I want to offer you a few options to find a scratching post that’s still relatively cheap:
- Building your own scratching post will probably net you a cheaper and better quality product—a win-win!
- Turn used or leftover rugs and carpeting into scratch pads for your cat by laying them on the ground or attaching them to a door or piece of furniture to stand upright.
- After shopping online, use shipping boxes instead of cardboard scratchers to save money.
Of course, you can also shop sales and perhaps find a bargain—but you probably already thought of that one!
Another tip if you’re short on cash is to go for cheaper materials, like cardboard. It’s messier and needs to be replaced more often, but it’s better than having your cat scratch your furniture!
Smaller posts also cost less than hefty cat towers, of course, so that’s another thing to keep in mind while shopping.
I am a freelance writer who specializes in the pet industry. My full bio