Most cat owners know first-hand that cats love to scratch. While getting your cat to know where to scratch can be a challenge, training your cat to do so is not as impossible as it might seem.
The following tips can help both you and your cat when it comes to keeping your home cat-friendly and your life relatively scratch-free.
Why Cats Scratch
As a cat owner, it’s important to know why your cat scratches and why it’s an important function of their physiology.
The primary reason cats scratch is to mark their territory. Not only does scratching leave visible signs to other animals, but cat’s paws also have glands that leave their own special scent on marked territory as well, letting other cats know that something is their turf.
Likewise, scratching is a form of exercise for your kitty, as it stretches, pulls, and works the muscles of its front quarters. Plus it just feels good for the cat, meaning that behavior modification, rather than elimination, is really the best you can hope for.
What You Can Do
In the hopes of preventing shredded furniture, the best thing you can do is train your cats to scratch where you want them to, as opposed to where they might want to. Here’s how:
- Provide your cat with a place to scratch. This may be a scratching post or a cat tree. Whatever it is, make sure your cats have a place (or two) to call their own.
- Place your cats scratching post where he or she is likely to want to mark their territory. Often this is in a family or common living area. A hidden post isn’t nearly as attractive to cats, as it the need to mark the area as their own isn’t as high.
- Start them young. As soon as your cat comes home, let him or her know where and what he or she can scratch.
- Consistency is key. Whenever you’re at home, if you see your kitty scratching something he or she shouldn’t, stop the behavior—every time.
- Deter cats from scratching unwanted items. Often this is as simple as a squirt bottle filled with water deployed whenever unwanted scratching begins. Likewise, simply removing your cat from what it’s scratching and placing them on their scratching post should work too. With time your kitty will learn not to scratch where they shouldn’t.
- Never physically punish your cat. Most cats don’t understand physical punishment and will only grow to fear and resent you for it. Likewise, yelling at your cat is futile.
Other Solutions to Cat Scratching
Most experts agree that declawing a cat should not be the answer for a scratching problem. Your cat’s claws are extremely important to his or her health and well-being, and declawing can put your cat’s health and safety at risk, even if he or she is an indoor-only cat.
Instead of declawing, consider keeping your cats nails trimmed or using a product such as Soft Paws, a safe an effective claw covering that keeps your cat’s claws intact while making them safe for household furniture and family members.
Should you have any other questions about your cat’s scratching or behavior, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re always happy to help.