All cats scratch and for the most part this is completely harmless. However, there are instances in which a cat’s scratching can become problematic. For example, your cat may be intent on scratching your new sofa to pieces or the leg of an antique table. Unfortunately, it simple isn’t possible to train a cat out of scratching, because it is a natural instinct. However, it is possible to reduce the amount of destruction a cat wreaks on your house.
First, it is important to realize that scratching is not an act of wilful destruction or aggression. It is an innate behavior, which has several purposes, including stretching the muscles, ridding the claws of shed layers and marking territory. Subsequently, a cat’s scratching should not be looked upon as a âbad behavior’. Instead, the cat’s desire to scratch needs to be redirected.
1. The first thing to do is go out and buy a scratching post and/or a scratching box. You will need a post if your cat likes to reach up to do his, or her, scratching and a box if he, or she, prefers to lay out on the floor to scratch. Obviously, of your cat enjoys both, then it is a good idea to purchase a box and a post.
2. Spray or rub some catnip onto the scratching post/box, as this will make the new toy much more desirable to your cat. Place the post or box close to the rug or furniture that your cat likes to scratch, but ensure that the post is stable and will not tip over when leapt on.
3. The next step is to be patient and vigilant. As soon as your cat starts scratching an object that it shouldn’t, shout “no” or make a loud noise by shaking a can with some change in. Some owners also like to use a plant spray and give the cat a quick squirt of water when he, or she, is scratching the furniture. This should be enough to stop the cat in its tracks.
4. Once you have surprised the cat with a firm “no” and a squirt of water, use a cat treat to coax him, or her, to the scratching post or box. It is not advisable to simply pick the cat up and place him, or her, near the post, because this may cause fear.
5. When your cat has approached the post or box, place the treat beside it and step away. This will allow the cat to enjoy the treat and the alluring scent of catnip, which should quickly endear the scratching post to him, or her.
6. As soon as the cat begins to scratch the post or box, immediately offer another treat and give him, or her, lots of praise. It is important to do this immediately, because the cat should associate the scratching post with approval and treats.
7. Once the scratching post has become habitual, it is important to keep up the verbal praise and, although you do not want to treat your cat every time he, or she, uses the post, it may help to offer a treat infrequently. This will just help to retain the positive reinforcement and ensure that your cat remembers why the post or box is better than the furniture or carpets.
Of course, the length of time that this training will take depends greatly on the individual cat. For some, the option of a catnip laden scratching post will be enough to prevent the destruction of furniture without any further action. However, for some, patience and time spent with the cat is important.
Samantha Markham is a professional freelance writer, based in the UK. She is currently producing articles for remmeer.com, a high quality supplier of unique pet products. Remmeer.com has a range of items for cats and their owners, including fun cat & kitten toys and unique cat picture frame styles.