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How Can I Stop My Cat from Scratching?

It can be daunting to bring home that new expensive couch or to introduce a new kitten/cat to your household. There are a few steps you can make to prevent destructive behaviour.

Why do cats scratch in the first place? There are a few different reasons why your cat may have the urge to scratch at your couch. They may do it to mark their territory for a way to communicate with other cats using the scent glands on the paws. Even if you have one cat in your household, your friendly feline may still have the need to scratch. It also feels good to the cat to scratch. It stretches their muscles and tendons in the cat’s body, from their head to their toes. Scratching is also a method to maintain the health of the nail. It helps to shed the outside nail husk.

Having a good scratching post is key to help prevent him from scratching furniture. There is a variety of different styles and sizes to choose from. Placement is critical; you want the scratching post in an area where the cat hangs out the most or beside the couch that they have been previously scratching. Some folks also have more than one scratcher around, because some cats are just too lazy to get up and walk from one room to the next. You can even rub catnip or pet-friendly honeysuckle scent directly on the post to help attract your cat to use it. There are products by Feliway called Feliscratch that also draws your feline to the scratching post. There are other products by Feliway that releases calming pheromones. It is likely that your cat could be scratching to destress. Providing a variety of interactive toys can also detour the destructive behaviour to be used on or off the scratching post. Lots of the scratching posts on the market have built-in toys and lounge spots on it already to appeal more to cats.

Make your couch an unattractive place for scratching. The citrus scent is unpleasant to cats, spraying it directly on the area where your cat scratches may help detour him/her. Wrapping aluminum foil on the furniture is another way to keep your cat away from scratching; the noise and the feel of the foil are usually unpleasant to cats. You could use double sided tape on furniture. It works by discouraging your cat to scratch with the sticky adhesive sensation that cats hate. Of course, there are soft interventions like a firm “No!” or the spray bottle — these can work too.

You may have heard of declawing of cats. The majority of declaws done is due to social issues, where cats are being destructive and tearing up furniture. The ABVMA (Alberta Veterinary Medical Association) banned the declawing procedure. Declawing is a permanent solution; however, it does have its drawbacks. It is a painful procedure of amputating the first digit of the toe. A new study shows declawing cats can lead to negative long-term effects including arthritis, aggression and back pain. Frequent nail trimming can benefit your cat. By trimming the nail short, your cat won’t feel the constant need to maintain the health of the nails by scratching. Applying soft paws to your cat’s nails will help minimize the damage from scratching at your furniture. These are small plastic tips that slide on the nail with a non-toxic adhesive and can last 4-6 weeks at a time. Soft paws come in a variety of colours and sizes to suit your kitten. It is not a permanent fix; you will need to replace the soft paw caps when they grow out or fall off. Starting them out at a young again, taking small breaks, and giving treats during nail trims and soft paw applications can help it be less stressful on the cat and yourself.

There are no two cats that are the same. When training your kitten or cat, It is all about patience, and perseverance.

Please give us a call if you have any questions.

Written by: Meagan Gladu, CCR

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