Cat Scratch Fever: Redirecting Scratching Behavior

Cats — By on October 2, 2011

Does your cat shun the scratching post but shred the sofa? Is your feline’s treatment of the screens endangering your security deposit? Does Kitty turn into Tarzan when a curtain is in the vicinity?

In theory, the solution is simple: Get Puss to scratch what you want and make taboo items less delectable. Of course, getting your catty kitty to go along with this plan may take a healthy dose of purrseverence.

Felines regularly shed the outer sheath of their claws. Many cats find that scratching oriental rugs, designer ottomans, and antique furniture helps facilitate this process. Scratching is also a form of exercise and a means by which cats mark their territory through scent and visual cues.

Accordingly, happy cat cohabitating may necessitate the creation of owner-sanctioned scratching areas. Invest in at least one (but as with chocolate and money, more is better) scratching post for your cat. Not only will a super duper kitty tower be pretty phat for your putty tat, it’ll be cheaper than replacing the carpet.

A good post is at least as tall as your kitty is long. If you don’t want a scaredy cat, make sure your post is stable. Some of the most pawpular choices are sisal fabric and rope or corrugated cardboard.

Make scratching posts enticing and fun. Greet your kitty on the post, play with them on it and proffer them pets there. Cats that knead while being petted may quickly transition to scratching the post.

Sprinkle the post with catnip or if your kitty does not respond to catnip, honeysuckle or valerian are alternatives. [Fun fact: lions and tigers like catnip too!]

Reward your kitty for proper use of the post with treats, pets, and purraise. If your cat does not respond, consider donating an item your feline has already (ahem) selected to the cause of the claws.

If Kitty has established a scratching routine involving your family’s heirlooms, make those spots less appealing. Veterinarian Patrick Pageat found that regular pheromone spray applications typically culminate in the reduction or elimination of scratching behavior. Cats don’t like citrus scents so spraying furniture with orange scented air freshener may keep your sourpuss away.

Some people deter felines by covering favorite spots with aluminum foil, thick plastic sheets, and even balloons.  There are devices that will make your cat scat by emitting noise or compressed air when your kitty approaches a designated area. A doorbell alarm can curtail curtain attacks. One of the easiest and most attractive ways to break Kitty’s routine is by applying large pieces of double stick tape to war zones.

As a last resort, you can make a splash by hanging water guns or bottles around the house. A whistle blown or can filled with pebbles shaken when the claws hit the upholstery is another option.

Forget declawing. Puss needs his boots. Declawing is an amputation of the last joint of a cat’s paw.  Depawing is more like it. This catastrophe can lead to physical, emotional and behavioral complications. Indeed, it’s outlawed in many European countries, Australia, Brazil, and several U.S. cities (including Beverly Hills and we know they have some nice furniture there)!

However, you can mitigate the damage your kitty’s claws can do by trimming your cat’s nails regularly (use a human nail trimmer). Many swear by vinyl nail caps that can be glued on your indoor kitty’s claws.

Don’t be a doubting tom-cat. You’re up to scratch. If the claws give you pause, make the banned areas undesirable and the preferred areas appealing. It may not be anything that some double stick tape can’t fix. You just need to be purrsistent.

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