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Cat Scratching Solutions

Cats love to scratch!  They scratch when they are stretching or relaxed and when they are playing or energetic.  They also scratch when they feel threatened and want to mark their territory.  Unfortunately, within the home, this scratching is down-right destructive and sometimes expensive!

It’s impossible to stop a cat from scratching as this is her natural tendency.  She does it to sharpen her claws, to remove the outer castings of the claw and because it feels good.  During scratching, the cat also marks the territory by releasing pheromones from the glands that are in her paws.

Cats can be taught to scratch in places that are acceptable to you and so keep your furniture and carpet free from damage.  Of course, like all training it is best to start when the cat is young and to be consistent in your approach so that she doesn’t become confused.  Still, even if the cat is an adult, it is still possible to make positive changes to her behaviour.

Scratch posts come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and materials and whilst it may seem that choosing one comes down to your own preference or what suits your home, in fact there’s a little more to it than that.

Like us, cats have different personalities and habits.  When it comes to scratching, some cats like to scratch on vertical or slanted objects such as trees and couch edges whilst others like horizontal surfaces such as carpet.  It comes down to whether they like to rake the surface or pick at it and whether they are a cat that likes to fully extend its body whilst scratching.  Curtains are often popular with cats that really enjoy a full stretch.

Before choosing a scratch pole, observe what the cat scratches on first, how she interacts with it and to what height she scratches so that you can pick one that mimics what she already prefers.  Remember that kittens will grow so choose a size to suit it once it is an adult.  Better Pets and Gardens have a huge variety of scratch posts for every budget so finding one to suit your cat’s idiosyncrasies is definitely possible.

Encourage the cat to investigate the new pole when it is in the house by scenting it with catnip or wiping her bedding over the surface.  Hang some of her favourite toys from string or place them around the base.  However, don’t hold her to the scratch post trying to get her to use it as this might frighten her and cause her not to want to go near it again.

As ugly as a well used scratch pole might look, don’t throw it away and replace it for a new one as she has spent years putting her smell on it, becoming familiar with it and making the torn edges just right.  Although it might be unsightly to you, to her it is a piece of art.

At the same time as introducing the new scratch pole, take away the cat’s opportunity to scratch at her favourite places.  Close doors to rooms and cover furniture that the cat liked to scratch before to reduce her options to just the new scratch pole.  Place the scratch pole right in front of her other spots as an ‘allowed’ alternative to them.

Tie the curtains up so that they are out of the way and place a plastic tablecloth over the carpet as cats don’t like the way this feels.  Turn speakers with cloth fronts to the wall and place orange peel on objects as cats find the smell unpleasant.  Alternatively, Better Pets and Gardens have a range of safe sprays that remove the pet odour previously left by cats and mask it with another that deters them but which won’t be noticed by you.

Double sided tape is handy to use on the corners of cloth or wooden furniture as cats don’t like the sticky feeling from it and will avoid it at all costs. Just be careful when applying tape so that it does not leave any residue on the furniture when removed.  Aluminium foil is great for around chair or table legs as well.  Some cats get under the bed, scratching the exposed mattress and waking everyone up at night.  If it’s not possible to block the entrance under the bed, try putting down plastic or an upside down vinyl carpet runner.

If you catch the cat in the act of scratching on an inappropriate object, you can try startling her by clapping your hands or giving her a quick squirt with water.  But, use these techniques as a last resort as she may start to fear you instead which will reduce her willingness to spend time with you later on.

Cat’s nails can be trimmed regularly and this is something that a vet or a groomer can do quite easily or you can ask our team at Better Pets and Gardens to show you how to do this.  Trimming the nails will help reduce the cat’s need to scratch for a period of time but it will have to be repeated every six weeks or so.

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