If your cat has reduced your rugs to rags or scratched your sofa to shreds, you need to redirect your kitty’s crafty clawing activities to acceptable surfaces. To accomplish this, you will need to assess your cat’s scratching habits in order to choose a surface that the cat will actually be willing to sink its claws into.
Understanding Why Cats Scratch
Your cat is not scratching the furniture or carpet because it is feeling spiteful. Despite the popular saying, the cat is not sharpening its claws either. Scratching is a natural and healthy activity that cats engage in for several reasons, including:
- Scratching is a way of marking territory by leaving visible marks and a scent from scent glands in the cat’s paws.
- Scratching is a way for cats to stretch their backs and upper body muscles.
- Scratching serves as an emotional release when the cat feels particularly happy, anxious or annoyed.
- Last but not least, scratching is also a way your cat files his nails smooth. How to trim your cat’s nails?
These are all important necessities for a cat, which is why it is essential to provide acceptable scratching surfaces for your cat in addition to discouraging the activity on your grandmother’s Persian rug. The best cat scratcher is the one that your cat will use.
Horizontal Scratcher or Vertical Scratcher?
Perhaps you are at your wit’s end because even though you invested in a premium quality scratching post, you cat continues to unleash those Freddy Krueger nails on the carpet. If your cat wrecks havoc on your flooring or on the tops of chair and sofa cushions, then you have a horizontal scratcher on your hands, which means that no scratching post is likely to be to your cat’s liking. Conversely, cats that shred vertical structures, such as the corner of a sofa, a wooden table leg or a doorframe, are vertical cat scratchers. A scratching post is the appropriate choice if you are dealing with a vertical scratcher.
For horizontal cat scratchers, you should be providing scratching pads instead of posts. There are various pad designs on the market to choose from. One of the best cat scratcher options resembles a circular track. The track contains a blinking ball for cats to bat around and around, and the actual scratching pads are inserted into the inside of the circle. These pads are typically made of corrugated cardboard. You can even purchase more elaborate variations on the theme that enable you to construct elaborate tracks for the ball, such as a figure eight, and you can purchase pads that are appropriately shaped to insert in these tracks.
Other scratching pads are simply frames of durable cardboard or plastic, and these frames house the pad inserts that you can replace when they become worn. Some of these frames have attached toys to entice playful cats. Some horizontal scratch pad frames are slightly inclined at one end.
For the vertical cat scratchers, scratching posts will satisfy their preferred position. Not just any scratching post will do, however. In fact, you may need to spend a little more money to select a post that the cat will find appealing.
Cats need to stretch when they scratch. If the cat cannot stretch, then the scratching session will not feel satisfying. Be sure to choose a scratching post that is tall enough for your cat to be able to stretch to its full length. You should also select a post that has some weight to it and sits on a wide and sturdy base. If a scratching post is so flimsy and lightweight that your cat pulls it down while scratching it, your cat will refrain from revisiting it.
You may want to consider a cat climbing tree. Some cat climbing trees that are available on today’s pet retail market provide vertical and horizontal surfaces for scratching. A cat climbing tree that also include a tunnel to hide in, attached toys to bat, a napping zone and a high perch to offer your kitty a survey spot will satisfy many of its feline activity needs.
Consider the Covering
The material that attracts most cats to scratch is sisal. Scratching pads and posts are available with sisal surfaces. When it comes to pads, most horizontal scratchers also find corrugated cardboard appealing. There are problems with carpet covered scratching surfaces. First, a cat may not bother to differentiate between the acceptable carpet on the post and the forbidden carpet on the floor. Secondly, cats can get their claws stuck in the carpet’s weave.
Additional Tips of Encouragement
Once you have selected the appropriate surface for your little scratcher, redirection training begins. Follow these tips to discourage your cat from scratching your home and furnishings and to encourage your feline friend’s scratching activities on appropriate surfaces.
- Supply a scratching surface for each cat in your home.
- Do not stash scratching surfaces in far away corners. Instead, position them next to the inappropriate locations where your cat has been scratching.
- Consider placing an additional scratching surface next to where your cat likes to nap. Upon awakening, the nearby post may entice your cat to stretch and simultaneously work off some scratching needs.
- Sprinkle catnip or spritz catnip spray onto the scratching surface to coax your cat to it.
- If possible, place double-sided tape on the previously scratched sofa or rug. Most cats dislike the sensation of the sticky surface on their paws.
- Place a few nickels inside of an empty coffee can. Shake the can loudly when your cat goes to scratch an inappropriate surface. This sudden and unpleasant sound sends most cats running immediately from the scene of the crime.
- When your cat scratches the pad or post, offer a treat to reward and reinforce the desired behavior.
- Keep training consistent by making sure that every family member is on the same page when it comes to discouraging undesired behavior and reinforcing proper scratching.
Once you have conveyed to your cat that it is okay to scratch by providing surfaces that are to both of your liking, those destructive little claws should cease and desist from shredding your home. Learn more here about DIY cat toys.