Ever wonder why a cat has to scratch everything in sight? Your cat is sharpening its claws and ridding the outer layer of an old claw for one reason. Even after a cat has been declawed, they could continue to go through the motion of clawing. On the paw pads are scent glands that will rub off their scent as they claw or scratch on an item. Once a cat does claw or scratch on an item, other cats will come to smell the scent left behind and may have the tendency to scratch the same item to leave behind their own scent. When you find the couch or other items scratched or clawed, this is a sign that your cat was exercising.
Access to proper scratching posts or trees will help redirect the energy that a cat uses when exercising in this way. Purchase a scratch post or tree that is sturdy enough for the cat and will not easily tip over when the cat is scratching or clawing at the tree. Also ensure that the scratching post or tree is high enough for the cat to reach and to be able to scratch and claw. A rope may also act as a stable item for the cat to scratch and claw on.
Rubbing orange peel or lemon on the fabric or surfaces of furniture can also help with unwanted scratching or clawing. Using a commercial cat repellent is another way to rid the scent on your belongings. Cats do not like plastic, so covering your furniture with plastic may encourage the cat to use its designated scratch post or tree. Communicate with the cat with soft words such as, “no kitty, you are not to scratch that, this is not the place.” Then take the cat to the scratching area and show them that this is the appropriate place to scratch; this will help with redirecting the cat's energy. Additionally, rubbing the cat's paw on the scratch post will help leave its scent behind so that they know that this is their place to scratch.
Regular nail trimming is also important, especially in older cats and inactive cats that sleep most of the time. These types of cats are usually in a curled up position with their paws tucked underneath; this can eventually cause the nails to curl. Trimming the nails is just as important in training. If you are uncertain about trimming the nails on your cat, give the pet groomers a call; these professionals have been trained to trim and cut nails on cats. Taking your cat for a nail trim when its nails are in need of grooming can also give a cat a good chance to get out of the house for much needed socialization.
Treats are another important aspect of training a cat. Rewarding your cat with a treat for good behavior encourages it to continue the behavior. On the other hand, when a cat wants something - like attention from the owner - it is best to abstain from rewarding this behavior with treats and food. This type of behavior can be identified with cues such as excessive meowing. When given treats, your cat will associate this behavior with being praised. Rewarding your cat for bad or unwanted behaviors will inadvertently encourage it to continue those behaviors.
Simple treats such as dry liver are a good treat for your cat. Most cats like the taste of liver, and you will not risk over feeding your cat with small portions. Once the behavior is under control and your cat is using its designated scratching post, you will want to decrease the amount of times you reward your cat for its behavior over time, until finally your cat is behaving well without having to be rewarded. This is so that you will be able to use the treat system for training your cat with other unwanted behaviors. Now that your cat associates the taste of the treat with positive behaviors such as using its scratch post, your next training session will be stress-free and exciting for your furry friend.
Scratching is a natural feline behavior that allows them to breathe. With gentle guidance and redirection, encouraging your cat not to scratch your belongings will soon result in your furry friend leaving your furniture and couch alone. Training your cat to not to scratch everything in sight can be a great experience for the both of you. With proper training, love and communication, you will be on your way to the next training behavior.