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How to Teach Your Cat Better Scratching Petiquette

February 1 2017

Have you ever caught your cat scratching on your sofa or carpet? If so, you’re not alone. Improper scratching is a very common complaint among cat owners. Read on as a McHenry, IL vet offers advice on teaching Fluffy better etiquette.

Provide a Nail-Care Station

First and foremost, you want to make sure that your kitty has a suitable spot to scratch. A cat tower is great, and will also give Fluffy another napping spot and a jungle gym. You can also get a scratching post or board. If you are a crafty type, you can also go the DIY route: just attach carpet scraps to a smooth piece of wood, and nail it to the wall. Just be sure that your furball’s nail care station is sturdy: if your pet’s scratching post wobbles, she may not use it.

Discourage Bad Habits

It’s fine to tell your furball ‘No,’ firmly, but you should never yell at or punish your kitty for scratching improperly. Negative reinforcement doesn’t work well on cats, and may just leave Fluffy feeling upset or confused. Instead, try squirting your feline pal with water or making a loud noise when she misbehaves. You can also discourage your furball from scratching your sofa or the corner of a wall by putting clear, two-sided tape down where she scratches: it won’t show, but she will hate the sticky feeling.

Purr Activation

It’s important for Fluffy to associate her manicure station with good things. When your cat uses her scratching post, lavish her with praise and compliments. Offering her a treat, a new toy, or a little catnip won’t hurt, either.

Other Options

If you aren’t having any luck, consider clipping Fluffy’s claws. This is painless and temporary, much like a human manicure. We only recommend this for indoor cats: if you let your feline pal go out, she will need her claws for defense. (Note: we strongly advise keeping kitties inside, for safety reasons.) If you’re nervous about giving your feline pal a pawdicure, just contact us to schedule a quick appointment. Nail clipping can also easily be worked into your kitty’s regular veterinary appointments. You can also consider getting claw caps. Ask your vet for more information.

Our Advice on How to Teach Your Cat Better Scratching Petiquette in 2024

How can cat owners identify the underlying reasons for their cat’s scratching behavior?

Cat owners can identify the underlying reasons for their cat’s scratching behavior by observing when and where the scratching occurs. Scratching is a natural behavior for cats, serving to maintain claw health, mark territory, and stretch muscles. If the scratching is focused on specific areas, it might be territorial. Excessive scratching could indicate stress or anxiety. Observing any changes in the environment or routine that may be affecting the cat can provide clues. Consulting with a veterinarian can help determine if there’s a medical reason behind the behavior, ensuring the cat’s needs are addressed appropriately.

Are there any specific health conditions or age-related factors that may contribute to excessive or inappropriate scratching behavior in cats?

Yes, specific health conditions or age-related factors can contribute to excessive or inappropriate scratching in cats. Skin conditions, allergies, parasites (such as fleas or mites), and fungal infections can cause discomfort, leading to increased scratching. In older cats, arthritis or other mobility issues might make them choose more accessible surfaces to scratch on rather than their designated scratching posts. It’s essential for cat owners to observe any accompanying signs of distress or discomfort and consult a veterinarian for a thorough examination. Our clinic in Fox Lake, IL, is available to assess and address your cat’s scratching behavior and underlying health concerns.

What are the benefits of regular scratching for cats?

Regular scratching offers several benefits for cats, including the removal of dead outer layers on their claws, marking their territory through visual marks and scent glands in their paws, stretching their bodies and flexing their feet and claws for exercise, and relieving stress or excitement. It’s a natural and essential behavior that contributes to a cat’s physical and emotional well-being. Providing appropriate scratching surfaces allows cats to engage in this natural behavior in a manner that’s both healthy and acceptable to their owners.

How can cat owners create a stimulating environment that encourages natural scratching behavior and reduces the likelihood of inappropriate scratching?

Cat owners can create a stimulating environment that encourages natural scratching behavior by providing multiple scratching posts and surfaces of various materials, such as sisal, cardboard, and carpet, placed in different areas around the home, especially near resting spots and heavily trafficked paths. Introducing vertical posts and horizontal boards caters to different scratching preferences. Engaging toys and regular play sessions can redirect energy positively. Incorporating structures for climbing and perching, like cat trees, can enhance the environment further. Consistently rewarding appropriate scratching with treats and praise reinforces desirable behavior, reducing the likelihood of inappropriate scratching.

What should cat owners do if their cat continues to scratch inappropriately despite their best efforts to redirect the behavior?

If a cat continues to scratch inappropriately despite efforts to redirect the behavior, owners should consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues. Additionally, seeking advice from a professional animal behaviorist may be beneficial. They can provide personalized strategies and environmental modifications to address and modify the behavior. It’s also crucial to ensure the scratching posts and materials are appealing and placed in areas where the cat prefers to scratch. Persistence and consistency in training and environmental enrichment are key to managing and redirecting inappropriate scratching behavior.

Do you have questions about your cat’s health or care? We can help! Contact us, your McHenry, IL animal clinic, today!