Scratching is a natural instinct that allows cats to mark their territory, play, release frustration, and keep their claws healthy. Keep your favorite sofa safe and give your cat something else to scratch!
There are a wide variety of scratching post options available: horizontal, vertical, sisal rope, cardboard, and more. Try a few different options and find the type and texture that your cat prefers. If you choose a vertical post, make sure it’s sturdy enough for your cat to stretch and hold their weight. Place the post in a prominent location of your home and consider your cat’s favorite scratching spots. If your cat favors couch corners, or always scratches by the door, place a scratcher nearby.
If your cat isn’t interested in their new scratching post, try enticing them with catnip or by gently pressing their paws against it. This will release pheromones in their paws and encourage investigation.
If you catch your cat scratching the wrong spot, don’t discipline them--this could make things worse. Simply redirect the cat to their scratching post and praise your cat when you see appropriate scratching. Make favorite furniture scratching spots undesirable by covering them with double sided sticky tape or aluminum foil, or lightly spray the area with a lemon scent or Feliway.
Regular nail trimmings also reduce scratching. You’ll want to start this training immediately and give your cat time to get used to having their paws touched. Start by handling your cat’s paws regularly. Cat paws are very sensitive, so you’ll want to do this gently, while your cat is in a relaxed state, and work up to extending the nail. Start with one nail at a time and respect your cat’s limits. Reward sessions with treats and praise! Use clippers designed for cats and only trim the tip, always cutting above the quick (pinkish area) inside the nail. If your cat remains stubborn about nail trimmings, see if your vet can help with a trim, or try nail coverings like Soft Paws.
Declawing your cat is not the answer to inappropriate scratching. Declawing is a painful procedure which amputates part of the cat’s toes. Declawing can cause litter box problems, changes in personality, and even arthritis and back pain. With patience, you can overcome scratching frustrations without declawing.
Outdoor cats should never be declawed, as they cannot defend themselves or easily climb to safety!
Need further assistance with a pet displaying unfavorable behaviors? BARCS is here to help! Please email us here for more help with a training or behavior-related issue with your pet.