Stop the Scratching

You don’t have to declaw kitty; you can train your cat to scratch elsewhere. Here’s a reader letter on this topic:

Q: Both my cats have decided to use the cloth furniture and carpets as their new scratching posts. They’re shredding everything. I can’t afford this. Can you help? D. G., Carlsbad, Calif.

A: Protect your furniture and carpet by laying plastic place mats with double-stick tape, plastic mats with nubbies (nubby side up), and/or aluminum foil over the places where the cat scratches. Karen Comings, author of “Shelter Cats,” (Howell Book House, New York, NY, 1988; $12.95) has an additional tip: Mix water and lemon juice in a plant mister spray bottle. First, test the fabric and carpeting in an inconspicuous place. Spray on the plastic mats and/or foil, and any places on the fabric or carpet itself where these items can’t cover.

To minimize your cats’ desire to scratch, keep the nails trimmed. Still all cats have a hard-wired need to scratch.

Provide various places where your kitties can scratch. Cat trees are great since aside from offering a scratching post, these condos include a dining room, sunroom and play area – and they’re large enough for several cats to hang out in. Many manufacturers make multi level trees (check out www.angelicalcat.com or call 954-748-0698), but these are expensive. More economical are vertical scratching posts. Look for posts with a solid base, and those your cat can reach up to. By clawing at the carpet, your cats are telling you to buy a horizontal scratcher. Most cats like corrugated cardboard-type scratchers, readily available and fairly inexpensive. One scratcher, from Cosmic Catnip, is angled like a hill, so cats get a vertical and horizontal fix all in one.

Buy two or three of the horizontal and or “hill” scratchers and place them where your cat scratches on the carpet most often. Deposit catnip in the slots to encourage scratching. This little trick really works.

“If you catch kitty scratching on the sofa or carpet, clap your hands to interrupt the behavior,” says Comings. It’s fine to admonish “no,” but don’t make a big deal of it. Take your cat to a designated scratching place, and play with an interactive toy at this place. Dangle the feather toy in such a way where the cat may inadvertently scratch at the post going after the toy. Once your cat begins to use the posts or horizontal scratchers regularly, you can gradually move them to another place.

Note: This article is copyrighted by Steve Dale and can be used as source material and for reference only. It cannot be reprinted verbatim. Please contact Steve Dale at [email protected] if you have any questions.

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