Feline Fridays: Scratching – Must it be a CATastrophe?

Remember my lovely cat, Cali? The one who’s helped to heal some holes in our family? She’s still a wonderful addition to our home, but now we also have new holes in our drapes and furniture from scratching. What’s a responsible new cat lover to do? I had my daughter do some research on declawing, and it sounds rather barbaric – it’s like removing a third of one’s digits – not a pretty thought. We don’t want to maim her and compromise her balance and grace. After all, it’s those ninja antics that we find so remarkably endearing.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Hemmert Olesen

Although it’s easy to see how much cats enjoy stretching and scratching, how does one redirect a diva that, in one moment, looks at you adoringly and the next with disdain?  I was on the receiving end of one of those bored “are you kidding me?” expressions when I placed Cali in front of the scratching post and started rubbing her paws against it. I even tried scratching it myself as if to say, “See look! Isn’t this fun?” She was not buying it.

So, fellow cat fans, I’ve done a bit of research for you, in the hopes that we can solve this problem together.

Think Like a Feline.

Scratching is a natural, ingrained behavior for cats. Their wild counterparts scratch trees for both visual and scent marking of their territories, so scratching your prized sofa is your cat’s  way of saying she likes living with you so much that she’s adding her own decorating touch. You will notice that cats like scratching and stretching up high (hello… why not incorporate kitty yoga and decorating in one?) It’s all about being noticed…go big or go home! This is why your sofa is their favorite. It’s soft, big, sturdy, and shred-a-licious!

It’s All About Fun and Food!

We have to entice kitty to something better. Cats will hold grudges, so a flimsy, teetering scratching post will scare them away. Build or buy a scratching post that is sturdy and tall (18-36”) that they can shred and make it look “lived in.” Because remember, their instinct is to mark their territory both visually and with their scent. Try using carpet, even the reverse side of carpet, corrugated cardboard, or sisel fabric.

To really ramp up your scratching post’s appeal, consider making catnip tea by boiling dried catnip for 10 minutes. Or simply soak the leaves overnight. Drain off the leaves and place the cooled “tea” in a spray bottle to mist the scratching post.

Food is also a high motivator. Put treats at the top of the post. Tempt your cat’s interest by dangling string over the post to encourage those initial claw and scent marks. If your cat thinks it is fun, they will think it’s their idea!

Photo by Timmy.

Make the Sofa a Drag.

In order to make the sofa or your speakers not-so-fun, you will need to do your own redecorating. It has been suggested to use double-sided sticky tape either by itself or with aluminum foil on favored scratching places because cats don’t like the feel of those things. Since we now know that their decorating also includes aromatherapy, it’s also important to neutralize their lingering scent marks. Try misting citrus sprays on your sofa and other items you want to protect as cats don’t care for that fragrance. As a last resort, give kitty a negative association with scratching your couch by using a water bottle set to “stream” and spray them only when caught in the act. Do this from far enough away that the cat hopefully won’t associate the water with you.  Punishment will simply give them a negative association with you, so avoid yelling and other scare tactics.

What Diva Couldn’t Use a Manicure?

Consider trimming your cat’s nails or using nail caps. Both of these activities require trust for all parties involved. There are several good videos and websites that give tips for how to accomplish this with minimal fuss and maximum safety. I personally want to try some of the colored caps as they will suit my little princess quite well!

Cat scratching issues are one of the main reasons cats end up in shelters, but declawing is an unsuitable answer. Are there other solutions you’ve found to channel this behavior into appropriate surfaces?

“Annoyed Cat” featured photo by wanderstruck.

One thought on “Feline Fridays: Scratching – Must it be a CATastrophe?

  1. I feel that declawing a cat is cruel , it can cause bad infections. Get something else for your cat to scratch on. The scratching post is a great idea, but, how about a cat tree, they have a scratching post, plus are great entertainment for him.

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