Cats and Scratching: Save Your Home From The Claws

All cat owners will know that their beloved pets like to scratch. Scratching is part of play, they scratch to relax, scratch when they stretch. They also scratch to mark territory and to display aggression. Beyond all of that, scratching is also a natural method a cat used to sharpen its claws.

For many people the result of all this is damaged sofas, curtains and doorways. Basically, if left unchecked, your cat can work its way around your house causing damage at every turn.

How To Minimize Your Cat’s Scratching Habits

First you need to realise that you cannot stop your cat from scratching. As we covered above, scratching is a natural feline instinct for multiple purposes.

What you can do however, is teach your pet where and what to scratch to satisfy the need.

The best approach is to provide your cat with appropriate surfaces and objects to scratch. A scratching post is ideal for this.

scratching post and cat

Cat Scratching Posts – How to implement

  • It may be that you will need more than one scratching post when encouraging your cat to change their habits. Place them close to the areas that your cat likes to scratch.
  • You should also vary the materials and type of scratching board. There are many available (cardboard, carpeting, wood, sisal etc). Cats generally prefer vertical posts, (so they can stretch as they use it) however horizontal posts can also be used. Ensure that the post is sturdy so that it won’t shift or collapse when used.

Using the scratching post

  • To help encourage your cat to investigate the new posts you can scent them with catnip, or hanging toys.
  • At the same time you should try to discourage inappropriate scratching by removing or covering other desirable objects
  • Be sure to clip your cat’s nails regularly. If they do occasionally have a relapse and attack your furniture, this will help minimise the potential damage.
  • If you catch your cat scratching an inappropriate object, shout or clap your hands. Startle them in a way so that they associate the behaviour with a negative reaction.

Cat Paw on carpet

Cat Scratching – What NOT to Do

  • A cardinal sin is to hold your cat by the scratching post and force her to drag her claws on it. This is completely the wrong way of going about it. Your cat will be frightened and will associate fear to the new scratching board. They will then avoid it completely.
  • Do not throw away a favorite scratching post when it becomes worn, and avoid moving a post to different locations, (after your cat has become accustomed to it). Cats prefer shredded and torn objects as they are more satisfying on the claws. Likewise, they prefer the consistency of the same spot. They become conditioned to carry out the scratching where they feel comfortable.

Follow these steps and be patient. Training your cat to use new scratching posts can take a while. The end result is worth it however – no more shredded furniture. Good luck…

(Image Credits: Petinfoclub, Germantownvet, Greengato)

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