Managing Scratching

Cats by nature have a need to scratch objects in their environment. By scratching, a cat leaves their scent, removes the dead outer layer of their claws, and works off energy. Cats tend to go back to the same spot to scratch; it’s a way in which they mark their territory.

Scratching is an instinct that cannot be removed from its behavior. It is an unrealistic goal to prevent a cat from scratching: instead, the goal in resolving problems is to redirect scratching onto acceptable objects. Declawing is NOT the solution!

Step 1: Answering the following questions will help you understand the cat’s scratching preference and provide you a way to redirect their attention:
– Where are the objects located? Prominent objects, close to sleeping areas, or near entrances to rooms are often the preferred choices.
– What texture do they have? Are they soft or coarse? Carpeted?
– What shape do they have? Horizontal, vertical?
– When do they scratch? When they’re excited, or waking up from a nap?
– How do they scratch? Some enjoy vertical sources, others like to get horizontal with their butts in the air for a good stretch.

Step 2: Now that you know you’re cat’s preferences, you’re halfway to solving the problem. The next step is to make their current scratching areas unappealing. Try these solutions:
– Cats are all about texture, so cover the “naughty” spots with things your cat will not like on her paws, including double-sided sticky tape, aluminum foil, sheets of sandpaper, or plastic carpet runner with the pointy side up.
– Many cats don’t like citrus or menthol odor. Try attaching cotton balls soaked in cologne or a muscle rub, like Icy Hot, to the bad patches.
– You may need to keep these items in place until your cat is consistently using their proper scratching posts. This could take weeks or months. When it is time to remove the items, do so one at a time and gradually.

Step 3: Once you’ve made the inappropriate surfaces undesirable for your cat, place an approved scratching item next to that surface, giving your cat an option once she realizes her old favorite is no longer an acceptable choice.
– Make sure the posts are where your cat wants them – focus on the area the cat was previously scratching.
– Rub a little catnip into the post to make it even more attractive.
– Praise your cat for using the post or any other object that is acceptable to scratch.
– Scolding a cat only works if you catch her in the act; scolding after the fact will only confuse your cat as she won’t know what she did wrong. Never yell or hit a cat as punishment. If you do catch your cat shredding an inappropriate spot, redirect her scratching to a good one. Do this consistently to teach “sofa bad, post good.”
Trimming your cat’s claws will also help manage their scratching. Only cut the sharp tip of the claw – not the pink portion. When trimming your cat’s claws its best to use trimmers designed especially for animals, and not your own clippers.