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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How to get your cat to stop scratching furniture, tips from a Veterinarian that really work!

Want to stop having your furniture and fabrics ruined by cat scratching and pet stains? To get your cat to stop scratching furniture here are effective tips - and they're from a veterinarian!   Plus, our clients have provided feedback on some below that really worked! 

It's wonderful when a client tells me they can finally enjoy coming home to a nice home, entertain friends, and not be ashamed of how their pet destroyed their furniture and fabrics. And.....if you're thinking this will never work - not for MY cat!, know that we've had clients tell us they were successful with these tips, especially "G" below, which worked for quite a few people in as little as one weekend of training. 
Get cats to scratch a post instead of furniture

Provide your cat with an appropriate scratching post.

From Veterinarian Dr. Christianne Schelling
Since your cat brings you so much joy, you decide to buy her the best scratching post you can find. You take it home and your feline friend gives you a blank stare and walks away. This activates your parental guidance mechanism and you decide to show her how to use the post by taking her front paws and making scratching motions at the post. She of course struggles till she gets free, then treats you with utter disdain for the rest of the day. Never feel the need to  "show her how", you'll only offend her. She knows perfectly well how to do it. She just reserves the right to scratch when and where it suits her.

Remember, we said appropriate.

Bear in mind your idea of desirable and Kitty's may not coincide. Cats like rough surfaces that they can shred to pieces. (The exception of course is your velvet couch, which has its own particular appeal.) Whatever post you choose, it must be tall enough for her to fully extend her body, & most important, it must be secure. If it topples over even once, she won't go back. 
Sisal scratching posts are ideal for releasing Kitty’s primal urges. This is a material she can shred to pieces with great satisfaction. I am referring to the sisal textile material, not the sisal rope. Sisal material has a perfect texture and grain for kitty to shred, and that is what she wants to do. Be sure not to throw it away when it is shredded, since that’s when she’s broken it in satisfactorily, and she will not appreciate your tidiness.

A good post should be tall enough for your Kitty to fully stretch her body, and should be very stable. An excellent example of an exceptional scratching post is the
 Purrfect Post.

How to get Kitty to prefer the post.

A)   Remember that an important part of scratching is the cat's desire to mark a territory, so a scratching post should be in an area that's used by the family, not hidden in a back corner. After a time you can move the post away to the periphery of the room, but do so gradually.
B)   Initially, put the post where your cat goes to scratch. This may be by a sofa, a chair or wherever Kitty has chosen as her territory, and you may need more than one post to cover her favorite spots. Security is a major factor in making the post appealing to your cat. If it topples or shakes, she won't use it. It should either be secured to the floor or have a base wide enough and heavy enough to keep it stable.
C)   Encourage Kitty to use her post with clever enticements. Feed her and play with her by the post. Rub dried catnip leaves or powder into it. Make all the associations with the post pleasurable. Reward her with a favorite treat when she uses it. Have her chase a string or a toy around the post. Attach toys to it, which will result in her digging her claws into it. Eventually she will learn to love it and regard it as her own. It's also a good idea to put a post where Kitty sleeps. Cats like to scratch when they awaken. 
D)   If at first Kitty is reluctant to give up her old scratching areas, there are means you can use to discourage her. Covering the area with aluminum foil or double-sided tape is a great deterrent. These surfaces don't have a texture that feels good to scratch.
E)   Remember Kitty has marked her favorite spots with her scent as well as her claws. You may need to remove her scent from the areas you want to distract her away from. You will find pet odor removers in pet stores and many supermarkets as well.
F)    Cats have an aversion to citrus odors. Use lemon-scented sprays or a potpourri of lemon and orange peels to make her former scratching sites less agreeable to her.
G)   If Kitty still persists in scratching the furniture, try squirting her with a water gun or a spray bottle set on stream. Another option is a loud whistle or other noise-maker. You must employ these deterrents while she is scratching for them to be effective. The point is to establish an aversion to the spot you don't want her to scratch. I had one client who said it only took one day of this to entice her cat to stop scratching the new furniture.
H)   Do not take her paws and make her scratch the post. This is a major turn-off and will only inspire a bratty "you can't make me" attitude. 
I)      If she starts to scratch an inappropriate object, immediately place her in front of her scratching post and begin petting her. Some cats will begin kneading when petted, thus digging their claws into the desired surface and establishing this as a fine place to scratch.

For tips on durable fabrics for your pet, for sofas, chairs, etc., check out this blog with before and AFTER room photos & fabric descriptions:

Pet friendly fabrics

1 comment:

Amber Groat said...

Wish I had read this several years ago! GREAT tips!