A common complaint from cat owners is that their cat is scratching their furniture. Why do cats scratch? Scratching is an innate behavior that lets cats relieve stress, stretch their muscles, file their nails, and mark territory. Rather than trying to stop your cat from scratching, you need to find an appropriate outlet for your cat and prevent them from scratching your furniture.
Selecting a Scratching Post
First, invest in a high quality scratching post that has the following characteristics:
Placing the Scratching Post
Next, find an appropriate spot to put your new scratching post. You want the post to be noticeable for your cat so don’t hide it in a bedroom. Place in plain sight. If your cat has already started to use an inappropriate surface, place the new scratching post near there. If your cat scratches door frames, they are most likely marking their territory. Place the post near entry ways.
Getting Your Cat to Use the Scratching Post
Use positive reinforcement to get your cat to use the scratching post. Here are some tips to get your cat interested in the post.
Preventing Inappropriate Scratching
If your cat already has a habit of scratching inappropriately, you need to prevent them from using that surface. You can use Sticky Paws or double sided tape on the surfaces your cat is scratching. If it is a piece of furniture, you could place a sheet or towel over it to block their access. To prevent further damage to your furniture, you could use Soft Paws, which are temporary nail caps that prevent your cat
from doing damage with her claws.
Warning About Declawing
A quick word about declawing. Declawing is a surgical procedure that amputates the first bone of your cat’s claws. It is painful and can lead to issues with balance as well as behavior problems. Most European countries have banned it and it has recently been banned in New York State.
With Halloween just around the corner, it is important to consider your pets. Strangers in costumes, loud noises, spooky decorations can seem threatening or scary to your pet. When an animal feels threatened or scared, aggression may occur.
To keep you pet safe and happy, exercise them prior to trick-or-treaters coming out. Keep your pets inside and consider putting them in a quiet, safe room. This is a simple solution that prevents your pet from slipping out the front door, knocking over a Jack O'Lantern or eating Halloween candy. In the room, give your pet a comfy bed and a few toys or chews, and play soothing music.
If you want your dog with you, make sure to have him on leash. Watch for signs of stress like panting, yawning, lip licking, tucked tail, not eating, and pacing. If you see these signs, put your dog away and let them relax in a room. Lastly, make sure your pets have proper identification in case your pet dashes out of the house.
CPDT-KA and Animal Behavior Consultant