My cat scratches the furniture. What should I do?

Cats like to scratch things – it’s a natural instinct – but it doesn’t have to a be a problem if we provide options.

Cats scratch for several reasons. Scratching…

  • Removes the dead outer layer and conditions the claws
  • Is a way to mark territory. Cats have scent glands on their paws and scratching leaves both a visual mark and a scent
  • Helps the cats stretch the entire body while flexing claws and feet

Cat scratchingMake sure you have acceptable objects in strategic places. Many scratching posts have catnip under the outer material, and cardboard scratchers often come with a bag of catnip to sprinkle on. This makes the acceptable object more interesting to the cat.

Each cat needs a horizontal and a vertical scratcher. Sisal and recycled cardboard are great scratching materials. If your cat has a preferred place, try to find something similar and place it close to the “forbidden” object. At the same time, cover the forbidden objects with something unappealing like aluminum foil or double-sided tape. As your cat gets used to the acceptable object, you can move it about one inch every day to the place you want it. (The closer you keep it to the cat’s preferred location, the better.)

Keep the unappealing coverings until your cat has used the “right” object in its permanent location for abut a month.

Trim your indoor cat’s nails

Trimming cat's nailsA cat’s nails grow as fast as a human’s. If you have an indoor cat, trim front and back nails every month, starting at abut 8 weeks of age, so you both get used to it. If you can’t do it yourself, take your cat to a groomer for regular nail trims.  It’s inexpensive and prevents problems with scratching.

  • Select a quiet room that’s free from distractions and has good light
  • If your cat doesn’t like to be held, try towel-wrapping it and cover the head – this helps kitty feel safe and makes him or her easier to handle
  • Gentle press a paw to extend the nails
  • Look at the nail from the side to determine where the nail ends and the quick begins. Cutting the quick will cause pain and bleeding – it’s better to just trim the tip of the nail.
  • Remember the dewclaw (thumb) on the front paws

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