How to Stop a Cat Scratching
Does your cat have a nasty habit of scratching your best furniture? Unfortunately, all cats scratch and it is impossible to stop them completely. However, it is possible to redirect their ‘scratching attentions’ to a more appropriate object.
It is a good idea for all cat owners to realize that scratching is a big part of what makes a cat a cat. The behavior is driven by natural instinct and is used to stretch the muscles and rid the claws of dead and shed layers. Importantly for the cat, it is also a way to mark his, or her territory, because scratching secretes a scent that is discernible to other cats.
Subsequently, you cannot expect a cat to simply stop scratching. However, what you can do is stop the scratching of Granny’s antique table or your brand new chair.
1. The first step is to supply your cat with a more appropriate focus for its scratching energies. So, go out and buy a scratching post or scratching box. If your cat’s favorite activity is scratching the rug, then a scratching box is a good alternative. On the other hand, if he, or she, likes to stretch up to scratch, then a post is the best option. Of course, if your cat enjoys a multitude of scratching positions, then a post and a box may be necessary.
2. Because almost all cats go crazy for catnip, it is a good idea to rub or spray some catnip onto the new scratching toys. This in itself may attract your cat away from the furniture. However, do not be surprised if it is not. Cats are creatures of habit and it may take some patience to modify your kitty’s behavior.
3. You will need to spend some time with your cat, because your cat is unlikely to train itself. Watch your cat closely and when he, or she, begins to scratch at your furniture distract him, or her, with a loud noise, such as a short firm “no”. You may find that this is sufficient to stop your cat, but, if not, try giving him, or her, a very brief squirt of water with a plant sprayer.
4. Once you have got your cat’s attention, try to tempt him, or her, over to the scratching post or box with a tasty treat. Never pick up your cat and remove it, because this could cause him, or her, to fear you or the scratching toys. Instead, gently coax him, or her.
5. As the cat approaches the box or post, place the treat down next to it and take a couple of steps back. Allow the cat to associate the smell of catnip and the tasty treat with the new toy.
6. Hopefully, at this point your cat will be tempted to give the scratching post or box a good scratch. When he, or she, begins to do this, offer another treat and give lots of verbal praise and affection. The cat will soon associate scratching on the post or box with very pleasant things, which will encourage him, or her, to use it more often.
7. When your cat begins to use the post or box through habit, it is a good idea to reinforce the praise frequently and perhaps offer a treat from time to time. Obviously, it is important not to overdo the treats, but an infrequent reinforcement will ensure that your cat does not leave the post in favor of your furniture.