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Scratching Behavior in Cats


What do you do if your adult cat is scratching up your furniture?  There are many possible ways to help curb this behavior.

Simon and his couch

Simon, showing off his new post

 

First, you should clip your cat's nails every other week.  This keeps them blunt and makes it less likely that your cat will damage items.  Cat nails are not hard to clip.  Here's a great video that will help you learn how to do this, and if you are still having trouble, ask one of the doctors or technicians to demonstrate how to clip nails at your next wellness visit.

Second, get some scratching posts.  A variety of posts is best.  Some cats prefer the cardboard scratchers that are available at most pet stores.  Other cats like sisal posts, as pictured above, and others prefer carpet.  Scratchers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials and positions.  Some cats prefer to scratch by stretching upward and others prefer to scratch on a flat surface.  You should be able to help determine what your cat's preferences are by how he's scratching now.  If he, like Simon above, likes to scratch vertically, you will find that he scratches on things like walls, couch sides, etc.  Choose a post that mimicks his scratching preferences, and ideally, offer more than one post in different positions and types.    Place the post within close proximity to the area that he's unfavorably scratching.  Scent your scratching post with catnip, if he likes it.  Make the area he's currently scratching unfavorable by putting double-sided sticky tape on it, or covering it with an object or blocking his access to it. 

If you are still having trouble after trying these things, you can come in and ask for one of the technicians to help you apply Soft Paws to your cat's nails.  Not all cats will leave them on, but if they will, they do help decrease destructive scratching by capping the sharp nail with a blunt artificial one.

Other generally good things to do to help minimize problem scratching are to keep your cat amused by playing with him at least 10 minutes daily, giving him things to look at (bird feeders, cat TV) and by giving him amusing toys or even food puzzles like the Slim Cat Ball.

Feel free to call the office if you have any questions about your cat's scratching.

More information and a great video on the subject is here:

Managing Destructive Scratching