Is your cat feverishly scratching your couch/chair/linens into scraps that don't even resemble your favorite furniture? Surprise: She’s in destruct mode for similar reasons that dogs pee on fire hydrants.
Although it’s commonly believed that cats scratch simply to sharpen their claws, according to Drs. Daniel Estep and Suzanne Hetts, certified animal behaviorists, a more likely motive is to stake out their territory and let other felines or people know where they are and what they’re up to. Males and females also scratch inside and out to play, stretch, and greet each other.
Clawing leaves behind a visible mark along with your cat’s scent, so it’s a surefire way for other animals to know kitty’s been there. Cats like to return to the same spot repeatedly – hence the shredded couch corner. And many will continue to scratch even after they’ve been declawed simply out of habit, so declawing is not a humane or practical solution to stop the behavior. Read on for a few key tips stop your cat’s clawing in its tracks.
For kittens and adult cats new to your home
1. Place 2 to 3 scratching posts in your cat’s favorite playing and sleeping spots. Buy a stylish post or make one – as long as it’s made of a material kitty can shred.
2. Cats are independent, so don’t even try hand-forcing her paw to scratch your post.
3. Encourage scratching in the right place by hanging toys on or near the post and scenting it with catnip. Be the example by scratching the post yourself when kitty’s nearby, and reward your cat with treats when she does what you want.
For older cats with a scratching problem
1. Cover the area she’s been scratching with thick plastic so it feels less tempting.
2. Put the scratching post next to her old scratching territory, and use a similar fabric on the post as her old scratching ground.
3. Leave the posts in prominent areas of your home. Kitty’s unlikely to scratch a post buried in the back of your basement!
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