Cats need to scratch, it’s in their nature!
#1: SCRATCHING SURFACES
Some good choices include carpeted scratching posts: try to get ones with a vertical and horizontal surface, so your cat can decide which direction it prefers at that moment. Some cats are particular about the surface material, my female cat will ONLY scratch carpet she will not scratch roped surfaces and is not a big fan of cardboard. My male cat however will scratch anything, (carpet, roped surface or cardboard); he’s a fan of it all especially if there is catnip involved.
Often times we assume cats are their own person: they are independent, do not need to be potty trained, and often seem perfectly content on their own. Because of this, owners often bring home a scratching post and just expect their cat to use it. Not surprisingly, the cat often chooses to scratch the arm of the couch instead. Cats can be trained however, and need to be taught to love their scratching post. When introducing a new scratching surface, it is important to get the cat to try it. I do this by running their paws over it so they start getting used to the idea that it’s theirs and it is okay to scratch it. I will put catnip on the scratching post and play with them on it. This helps the cat to make better decisions when they need to scratch something.
You can discourage your cat from scratching where you don’t want them to scratch while you’re transitioning them to their new scratching place. This could be done by throwing an unfavourable material over the place they’re scratching (e.g. plastic sheet, blanket). Before you replace furniture your cat has destroyed, it is imperative to have them using their new scratching surface first. Otherwise, they may start using the new furniture as their favourite item!
#4: ORGANIZED PLAY TIME
Dogs get destructive when they have too much pent up energy. Cats are often times the same. If your cat, (typically kittens and young cats), is always crawling on the underside of the couch and scrambling up the curtains, it may be bored and have energy to burn. Good toys include feathered wands that encourage your cat to practice its “chase and pounce” and crinkly balls that encourage “bat and chase”. Anything that gets your cat moving, running and pouncing is good. Battery operated toys that have timers are also available now and this is a great idea for entertaining your cat when you are at work. These are all ways that can help reduce the energy used by your cat for destructive play.
#5: NAIL TRIM
It’s important to keep your cats nails short. One of the reasons they scratch is to keep their nails at a comfortable length. Next time you’re in the hospital, be sure to ask us how you could trim your cat’s nails at home.
Cats occasionally scratch a surface to mark their territory when they are stressed. There is a product call Feliway that could be used to help this behaviour. It is sprayed directly on the surface they are scratching and is used daily for 2 weeks. It is important to recognize general scratching versus stress scratching, since the pheromone will not stop a cat from performing its regular scratching routine.