Cat Scratching

There are many good reasons why your cat will scratch and claw around the house, none of which is a desire to destroy your furniture.

For a cat to use its claws is a perfectly natural behaviour, which incidentally has a number of positive benefits, some of which are stretching and exercise for their shoulders and legs, shedding the older layers of nails and keeping the claws clean and smooth, marking territory both visually and with the scent of their paw pads and reducing stress. If your cat shows a preference for your favourite spots in the house like your favourite chair or your spot on the sofa, some experts say that is a cat’s love and desire to share their scent with you.

In the interest of prolonging the life of your furniture, there are a multitude of cat scratchers available on the market, from the simplest scratching post to what effectively amounts to a miniature cat apartment. The best thing to do is monitor your cat’s scratching behaviour and try to match your scratching post to that. Some cats scratch horizontally, some vertically for a back stretch. Some lie on their backs and scratch a surface above them. There are also certain surfaces or types of fabric that your cat may prefer to scratch. Some cats prefer soft fabric while others like wood floors and trim.

When your scratching post is ready, it should be strategically placed in an optimal spot in your house. Placing the scratcher in an inconspicuous area in the house is unlikely to solve the problem. Also remember that clawing is partially a marking behaviour, so she will most likely repeatedly return to the same place to scratch. It is ideal to place the scratcher near problem areas like your couch or chair, and consider placing it near an area where your cat frequents like the window she looks out of every day, or her litter box.

Once your scratcher is in place, the next challenge is to get your cat to visit it for her workout. Using positive reinforcement techniques can be effective, like rewarding your cat with praise and treats for using it. Encourage your cat to use the scratcher by luring her to it with a laser pointer or a string. Pet her while she’s scratching the post. Ideally, it should initially seem appealing each time she uses it.

If your cat continues to scratch furniture and other inappropriate things, try associating an unpleasant sensation or sound to the event. As long as she can’t see the person behind the bottle, spray her with water when you catch her scratching the chair. Loud clicking noises can also work to deter bad behaviour.