I'm the one who has considered bringing in a stray, and did not want to declaw her.
Before I commit to letting her in full time, I've been letting her in for short periods (an hour or so), supervised.
I bought a sisal scratching post, and one of those cardboard horizontal scratching pads.
When she comes in, she goes straight for my recliner and starts scratching it.
I gently pick her up and set her next to the post. She hasn't used it once.
But 5 minutes later, she goes back and scratches the chair.

I can't let her live inside until I can trust her. How do I train her to scratch the post?
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Try the turbo scratcher, which can be purchased on line. My cats all love it and never used the post. Some cats are horizontal scratchers. It is inexpensive and worth a try.
Gail
You can also try that sticky tape stuff on the recliner. My new girl was going to town on the stereo speaker. I put sticky stuff on that and got one of those cat trees/scratching posts wrapped with the rope over the weekend and she hasn't messed with the speaker since. I sprayed the cat tree liberally with cat nip spray (don't know if that did anything or not). By the looks of the sticky tape it shouldn't be a problem to remove when I'm sure the cat is well established with the appropriate things to scratch.

Wendy
Try the turbo scratcher, which can be purchased on line. My cats all love it and never used the post. Some cats are horizontal scratchers. It is inexpensive and worth a try.
Gail
I'm the one who has considered bringing in a stray, and did not want to declaw her. Before I commit ... of those cardboard horizontal scratching pads. When she comes in, she goes straight for my recliner and starts scratching it.

Get a post closer to the material of the recliner. Make the recliner uninviting by putting StickyPaws on it and spraying it with a citrus- scented air freshener.
If she likes catnip, put some on the post.
The post must be more inviting than the chair. If she likes the chair, she likes that material and/or that location.
Also, place the post very near the chair. Move the chair if you have to, to see if it is the location she actually likes, not the chair.
I gently pick her up and set her next to the post.

Do you praise her and play with her next to it and on it? If she likes string, play with some on the post, running the string over it so she grabs it and her claws dog in the post. Praise and treat.
She hasn't used it once.

Place her paws on the post if she doesn't mind her paws touched. Praise, pet, and treat.

~kaeli~
In democracy your vote counts. In feudalism your count votes. http://www.ipwebdesign.net/wildAtHeart
http://www.ipwebdesign.net/kaelisSpace
Thanks. I'll try these things. The post is supposed to be treated with catnip, but I'll order some of the spray (small town, no pet shop, gotta buy everything online).
She's definitely a vertical scratcher...I watch her outside on the deck posts and trees. But I bought her the horizontal scratch pad anyway. It's just cardboard, with a ton of catnip dumped into it.

The cat has really come a long way from that scrawny, beat up thing that showed up back in July.
We just need to overcome the scratching situation, and she can come in.
Thanks. I'll try these things. The post is supposed to be treated with catnip, but I'll order some of the ... But I bought her the horizontal scratch pad anyway. It's just cardboard, with a ton of catnip dumped into it.

Try REAL catnip.
http://www.petsmart.com/products/product 21483.shtml

Also, if she likes trees and the deck, try a wooden post. http://www.lovethatcat.com/cat-scratching-post.html Or even a natural log from your area, bark and all, secured well with a screw onto a flat, thick board.
http://amby.com/cat site/declaw.html#build-it

~kaeli~
Support your local medical examiner: die strangely! http://www.ipwebdesign.net/wildAtHeart
http://www.ipwebdesign.net/kaelisSpace
I had the same problem with my cat. I bought her a scratching post and she absolutely wouldn't use it. She seemed to prefer waiting until I was asleep in bed and scratching the bottom of the bed. My solution was to put the post right next to the bed (which she obviously liked scratching). Everytime she started scratching the bed I shouted "NO" really loudly. Secondly I made a point of playing with her at the scratching post by dragging pieces of wool over it so that she sank her claws in.

She got the message eventually and now she uses it all the time. Funnily enough I bought catnip spary initially to try and lure her to the post, but my cat HATES it so now I spray it on things that I don't want her to touch.

Jeannie
I'm the one who has considered bringing in a stray, and did not want to declaw her. Before I commit ... I can't let her live inside until I can trust her. How do I train her to scratch the post?

Mitch,
Thank you for continuing to care for this cat. Believe me, you can have both the cat and unshredded furniture, but it will take some adjustment for both you and the cat. Some accommodations will be temporary on your part.

You say that the first thing the cat does after entering the house is to head to your recliner for a scratch. This is probably because the cat is excited and happy to be inside with you. When we come into the house, our cats usually greet us and then scratch one of our conveniently located posts, at which time, we lavishly praise them. From time to time, we join them and scratch a little on the post ourselves to reinforce the behavior.

Your problem may be the location of the scratching post. When the cat comes inside, does she have to pass the chair in order to get to the post? I suggest that at least for now that you make the location of the post more convenient than the chair to the entrance she uses to your house. This may involve moving the post, the chair, or both. I know that it seems like a lot of trouble, but once you get the kinks worked out, you will be rewarded more than you ever imagined and you can put some things back the way you want them.
You can make the post more attractive by rubbing a little catnip into the sisal.
In addition to making the post more convenient, you can take some temporary measures to make the chair less attractive. A product called something like Sticky Paws is a tape that you put on places where you do not want the cat to scratch. Also, you can use Feliway (on the chair, not the cat), which is a behavior modification spray. If you use Feliway, you may find that the cat rubs her face on the chair. This would be a normal reaction. Perhaps an Internet search would lead you to some non-toxic sprays that are unattractive to cats. Be careful to make sure that the product label specifically not toxic to cats. They are sensitive to many chemicals.

Now, when the cat comes inside, you go to the post and make noisy scratching sounds while calling to her. She is very likely to join you.

If the cat still goes to the chair, continue to pick her up and take her to the post and initiate a scratching session.
She should catch on pretty quickly.
Good luck.
Annie
You can also try that sticky tape stuff on the recliner. My new girlwas going to town on the stereo ... it shouldn't be a problem to removewhen I'm sure the cat is well established with the appropriate things toscratch. Wendy

All great advice. I pin aluminum foil (you could tape it, too) to the places they like
to scratch. They hate it and will not touch it and you sure can tell that they have
not been there. After two weeks of a funny looking chair, you can take the foil
down because the cat will be trained.
Meanwhile ... everyone offered this same advice the first time around, no?
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