Cats are known for their tendency to claw furniture, doorframes, carpeting, a corner where two walls meet and other undesirable locations. This can cause significant damage and aggravation for cat lovers.
There are several strategies that can be employed to get your cat to stop scratching and these solutions do not involve declawing, which is regarded as inhumane by many veterinarians and animal rights advocates. Many view the amputation of the cat’s “fingertips” as inhumane and “overkill”; it’s a procedure that’s becoming increasingly un-pc and it’s an operation that’s often place in the same category as so-called de-barking surgery.
In fact, there are several fairly simple ways to get your cat to stop clawing. We’ll explore the fine points of cat training in a future article, but today, we’ll examine the many different measures that can be employed to get your cat to stop scratching!
Why Do Cats Claw and Scratch?
Before you can fix this behavioral problem, it’s important to understand why cats scratch. There are two basic reasons. Firstly, scratching feels good, as it serves the purpose of pulling off the outer layer of his claws (unlike human nails, the cat’s claws are “onion-like”. The old layer falls off, exposing the fresh, sharp claw beneath.)
The second reason is more territorial. Cats mark their territory in several ways. Marking with urine is one method; clawing is another method. Therefore, it stands to reason that this particular behavior is more common in dominant felines, particularly un-neutered males.
In fact, declawed cats will still mimic clawing/scratching behaviors, thereby supporting the dominance theory. It’s a behavior that I’ve observed myself in my mother’s cat, who was declawed by her previous owners.
How to Get Your Cat to Stop Scratching and Clawing
Try the following methods to get your cat to stop clawing furniture, moldings and other undesirable locations.
Give your cat a suitable clawing area. It’s important to provide these new scratching areas before you try to stop the inappropriate behavior! In short, the cat will need a replacement, since the drive to scratch is instinctual.
Try a couple of different clawing options, including a scratching mat and a hemp rope-covered clawing post. You can even make your own scratching post with a small bark-covered log, screwed to a small wooden board. Make the scratching post even more attractive to the cat by rubbing fresh cat nip onto the item on a weekly basis.
It’s best to avoid rug-covered scratching posts, as some cats will begin to associate carpeting with scratching. As a result, your pet may start scratching your rugs and carpeting!
Place double-sided tape on furniture, moldings and other areas where the cat frequently scratches. This results in a really uncomfortable sensation and it breaks the pet’s habit of scratching in these areas.
Provide negative feedback when you catch your cat scratching in an inappropriate location. A spray with a water bottle or a shake with a can of pennies will do the trick.
Of course, never, ever hit, kick or physically punish your pet! This is not intended to be a punishment; it’s intended to be negative feedback — it’s telling your pet “don’t do this” in a way that he’ll understand.
Bring your cat to his scratching post or clawing mat after you catch him clawing in an inappropriate location. Rub a feather over the clawing post or mat to get the cat to sink his nails into it. If he starts clawing in this location, offer lots of verbal praise, along with a cat treat once he’s finished!
It’s really important to provide positive feedback when the cat acts in an appropriate manner, and likewise, you must be consistent about providing negative feedback when your pet acts in an inappropriate manner.
You may also consider using a cat alarm. For instance, if your cat is consistently clawing a window frame, place the cat alarm on the window sill. It will sound whenever the cat jumps into the window, providing the pet with negative feedback that will discourage visits to this location in the future. Cat alarms are especially effective because they provide very consistent negative feedback to the pet and consistency is key when it comes to training an animal. (No matter how consistent you attempt to be, you can’t be with your pet 24/7!)
Notably, cats are very particular animals. Location can make a huge difference for your pet — it’s why he chooses to scratch one doorframe, but not the others. So take this into consideration when placing your scratching posts and clawing mats. It’s generally best to place it near the [undesirable] location where the cat enjoys engaging in this behavior.
For more cat care tips, visit PetLvr’s archives.
Photo Source: Iwan Beijes Photo