Is your precious Kitty scratching your furniture and door frames?
Does the thought of amputating the ends of her toes make you reflexively curl your own fingers?
How do you protect your home and furniture without mutilating a member of your family?
Understanding why cats scratch can help you form a plan to keep them from scratching.
#1 Trim Kitty’s Claws
Sometimes cats are scratching to remove the top layer of their claws. It's a cat manicure.
Keeping Kitty’s “nails” trimmed will reduce how much she wants to scratch and also minimize the damage she might do as you teach her not to destroy furniture.
Get some trimmers. Pet nail trimmers are preferred, but in a pinch you can make do with any pair of nail trimmers you have. Make sure kitty is comfortable in your lap and gently press on her foot pad. The nail will extend and you can trim the end. Just be sure not to cut into the quick or it will be a traumatic experience for you and Kitty.
#2 Put Up Good Scratching Posts
Cats scratch to mark their territory with sight and smell, but that doesn't mean Kitty has to do it on your door frames. Cats usually prefer a good quality scratching post over furniture.
Three things to look for in a scratching post:
- Post must be tall enough for Kitty to stretch up fully.
- Post must be sturdy enough that Kitty trusts that it won't wobble.
- Post must be of good scratching material. Sisal rope is an excellent choice.
Place a tall, sturdy scratching post beside any place Kitty likes to scratch. Show her the post--you can even scratch on it yourself to show her what she's supposed to do. Gently place Kitty’s front paws high on the post and see if she’ll scratch on her own.
Most cats will readily accept a sisal rope scratching post with few problems. Stay away from cheap carpet scratching posts. Cats tend to ignore those and I don't blame them.
Now if you catch her scratching the old furniture, tell her “no” and move her to the scratching post.
#3 Hang Bells on Doors
If Kitty is scratching to get your attention when she wants a door opened for her, hang a bell on the door-knob and teach her to ring it instead.
Show her the bell, and ring it so she knows what it does. Every time you open the door for her, ring the bell. In no time she will learn to ring the bell to get your attention instead of scratching.
Understanding why cats scratch helps you understand how to divert their natural behaviors so they don't destroy your property or your sanity.
Have you ever taught a cat not to scratch? What methods worked for you? Tell me about it in the comments below.