My humans have this couch that makes a great scratching post—it’s covered in this rough-textured material that works really nicely for stretching and scratching. The only problem is my humans keep telling me to stop scratching it! If they see me clawing the couch, they grab me and put my paws on this stupid, flimsy little pole. They think I should scratch this pole, but it’s covered in really boring carpet and it’s so small that it feels like I’m going to pull it over on its side if I give it a really good scratching. There is just no way I’m going to use that dumb pole over that wonderful couch. So how do I get my clueless humans off my back?
Your humans sound like they are well meaning but definitely, as you said yourself, clueless. Unfortunately a lot of humans are that way—they get these wimpy little carpeted poles and expect us to confine our scratching to them. If they had one ounce of sense they would realize these poles are useless for anyone but the smallest kitten (and even kittens get bored of those things pretty quickly). Since humans don’t do the claw-sharpening thing, they don’t understand what the requirements for a really good scratching surface are. Since scratching involves stretching (in fact, stretching is one of the main reasons why we love a good scratch), an appropriate surface has texture and gives you something to really dig your claws into. That’s why we love textures like sisal, corrugated cardboard and burlap. I’ve heard of some cats who really score – their humans actually bring home cat trees made of wood for them to scratch! That carpeted stuff is really blows—our claws just can’t grab on all that well and we have to work extra hard just to get a good scratch in. No wonder we hunt down better surfaces, like couches, box springs and the like.
In your particular instance, the solution to your problem depends on how much you want to please your humans. (Yes, some cats, believe it or not, are human pleasers. I don’t know any personally, but they do exist. Mostly in alternate universes.) About the only way you’ll make that silly pole work is to knock it over on its side. It’ll probably be a little more stable that way, and you’ll be able to stretch out along its length and scratch. Obviously this isn’t an optimal solution—ideally your humans would get a clue and get you a big, sturdy sisal scratching post, or better yet, a cat tree with sisal. Even one of those cheap corrugated cardboard scratchers is better than a flimsy pole. If you are not a human-pleasing kind of cat (and, frankly, from the tone of your question, this sounds more likely), then your best bet is to 1) claw the couch when they’re not around or asleep, and 2) only claw places they can’t see really well, like the back, or a side that’s near a wall. I know this probably puts a crimp in your scratching style, but so does having a human grab you and put your paws on a flimsy pole. I know none of this is ideal, but it’s about all I can suggest. I can’t wave a magic wand over your humans to make them get a clue. I’m a cat, not a fairy godmother.