A good scratching post or cat tree can either be made or purchased. It must be stable enough for your cat to climb and pull on, it should be covered with a favorable clawing material, and placed in a prominent area so that your cat prefers and enjoys it rather than the furniture or carpet.
You can encourage your cat to use the post or tree by teasing them with a cat toy and praising them for digging in their claws. If your cat enjoys catnip, rub some on the post to encourage them to spend more time there and give them treats for being on the tree as well. Make sure that they know that climbing and clawing are perfectly fine on their scratching post or cat tree.
Make sure that the post you choose isn’t covered in the same texture of carpet as that in your house or your cat may have a hard time making the distinction between why clawing carpet on the post is okay but not on the floor. A better choice would be to cover it with sisal, a rough- textured rope material cats love to dig into. Change the areas you don’t want your pet to touch less appealing during the retraining process by covering them with deterrents such as: foil, plastic sheeting, or plastic carpet runners.
Since clawing is also a territory-marker, move the cat tree into a prominent place, near that clawed corner of the couch in the center of the room, now covered with deterrents. Praise your cat for using the post instead. Move the post slowly away from the area to a place where you would like.
If you catch your cat clawing, squirt with a spray bottle of water or use another distracting device. Try to stay out of sight whenever you do so. Remember: The idea is to get the cat to believe that the furniture itself is doing the disciplining. If you’re patient and consistent, the new pattern will eventually become a habit.
For some cats, nail tips help with clawing problems. Glued onto the nails every six weeks these Soft Paws tips even come in a variety of vibrant colors. Another idea is to keep your cat’s nails trimmed to reduce their destructive capabilities. Ask your veterinarian for help in these “paw”fect procedures.
For more information call us at Animal Central (303)469-PETS (7387)
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Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff