Oddly, cats like to sleep inside cardboard boxes instead of fluffy, soft beds. They like to meow for food despite their bowls not being empty. And, undeterred by well-placed scratching posts throughout the house, they like to scratch up the furniture or curtain panels.

What’s an owner supposed to do? Well, for starters, it’s important to recognize that cats aren’t doing any of this to be irritating. With patience, guidance and positive reinforcement, you can stop destructive cat scratching in its tracks.

Feline Nature

Cat scratching provides an excellent back stretch, and it feels good in the arms and toes, too. Speaking of their toes, scratching helps to remove the dead outer sheath of the claws. Perhaps more importantly, however, is that cats leave their scent on the scratching location, which also visually communicates “I was here”.

Don’t Discourage, Only Redirect

You don’t want to limit your cat’s opportunities to work out this important feline instinct, but you do want to provide them with appropriate scratching posts. Sure, they may not automatically be attracted to your posts, but scolding or punishing them will not work to your advantage. In fact, this may propel them to scratch your things even more.

Watch and Wait

Whether you’ve seen them scratch up your furniture first hand, or you’ve simply catalogued the evidence, you know what surface, fabric or texture your cat prefers. They may enjoy a horizontal surface, like carpet or a deep area rug. Try to replicate their preferred scratching area with a scratching post (whether vertical or horizontal, depending on their preferences) covered in the same material.  

Oh, Happy Day!

When they use the cat scratching post, reward them with praise, head scratches, treats, or a fun toy. When or if they use your furniture, try your best to ignore it while encouraging them toward the post.

You can attract your cat to their appropriate post by spraying it with Feliway or catnip. Likewise, place objects in front of or on top of the place you want your cat to stop scratching. Double sided sticky tape works wonders. If they don’t get the hint right away, apply a natural cat deterrent spray on your furniture or curtains.

Helpful Tips

If you’re constructing your own alternative cat scratching post, be sure it is really sturdy and won’t topple over. Nothing will repel them faster if it falls. Likewise, consider your cat’s size. Most posts are at least 3 feet tall. You may get inspired to build off of a longer cat scratching post and create a custom cat tree, covered in carpet, sisal rope, soft fabric on a high up perch, and even dangling feather entrancers.

The Thing About Claws

Be sure to trim your cat’s claws regularly to minimize sharpness. Left alone, their claws can mimic little razors and can make quick work of your household belongings and decor.

If you need more information about feline behavior, and what else you can do to redirect cat scratching, we’re always here for you at Androscoggin Animal Hospital