Your cat scratches for different reasons. They scratch to maintain the health of their nails, stretch out their back and shoulder muscles, mark their territory, or even serve as an emotional outlet. Think of scratching as the equivalent of a puppy’s urge to chew! So, effectively managing cat scratching doesn’t mean eliminating the behavior (as it’s completely natural and healthy), but finding ways to give them a safe and less destructive way to do so.
Read on to learn more about cat scratching and how you can manage it!
Some people might recommend declawing as a solution to your cat scratching problems, but it’s important to know its consequences. In fact, Animal Humane Society opposes this practice because of the pain and other negative effects it causes. After all, declawing is a serious and permanent surgery.
Cats not only experience pain for days after the procedure but are also affected in other ways. For instance, declawed cats become defenseless against attackers, which means they can’t be let outside unsupervised. They also have their sense of balance altered, posing a serious risk as cats love to climb!
Managing cat scratching through redirection
Similar to the advice for dog owners with a chewing pup, the best way to manage your cat’s scratching is to teach them what they can and can’t scratch!
Provide an appropriate scratching post
Author of “Think Like a Cat” Pam Johnson-Bennett states three guidelines for a scratching post; it should be covered in the right material, sturdy and well-made, and tall enough to allow a full stretch. Once you’ve chosen a scratching post, it’s recommended that you place it somewhere where it’s easily seen and accessible.
To introduce your cat to the post, you can dangle a toy near or over the post until they put their claws on it. Avoid putting your cat’s paws on it as they won’t understand what you’re doing and might even learn to dislike the post! It’s important that they discover the purpose of the post on their own.
Make your furniture unappealing
Some materials are more likely to catch your cat’s attention than others. If you find them scratching a piece of furniture often, cover it up with a sheet, and place the scratching post next to it. Once they start scratching the post more than the furniture, gradually move it to where you want it to be permanently located, keeping in mind that it must be highly visible!
Trim claws regularly
During the training process, your cat will inevitably scratch something inappropriate. Luckily, well-trimmed claws cause less damage, so it’s best to keep those scratchers regularly groomed!
Don’t punish scratching
Scratching is a natural behavior. If you catch your cat scratching something they’re not supposed to, avoid scolding them! Calmly redirect them back to their post with the game recommended above.
Part of being a responsible pet owner is knowing how to deal with destructive albeit natural behavior. And even though the learning process can become frustrating, it’s important that you maintain a calm, positive attitude and show patience. After all, your pet never does things out of spite and only ever wants to make you happy!