Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How to Keep Cat From Scratching Your Home Furniture

Meet Mary Burch, American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Director, and Paw Nation's expert columnist addressing your questions on animal behavior. Dr. Burch has over 25 years of experience working with animals and is one of fewer than 50 Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists based in the United States. She is the author of 10 books, including the new official book on the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program, "Citizen Canine: 10 Essential Skills Every Well-Mannered Dog Should Know." As an animal behaviorist, Dr. Burch is happy to answer your questions about cats and dogs.

she's using my entire living room as a scratching post. She's made her mark on every sofa and chair I have. I've bought several scratchers – tall ones she can climb, short ones at floor level -- but she prefers to destroy my furniture! I adore her and am committed for the long-haul, but I do want to keep my living room intact. Help!

How frustrating! I'm glad that you 're willing to be patient while coming up with a good solution for your new roommate. To deal with what's going on in your home, it may help you to better understand what's behind your feline's behavior and then evaluate various options to try.

1. Why Cats Scratch
Giving their claws a workout is about more than you may think. Cats scratch to:

-- Exercise. It feels good when they reach up to scratch.
-- Relax. The kneading motion is soothing.
-- File their nails. This is the most typical reason for scratching as it removes old layers of the nails.
-- Mark their territory. Cats have scent glands between their paws that release scent on the furniture. (This may be particularly appealing to your cat now that she's in a new home.)

2. Ways to Stem "Bad" Scratching
First of all, let me stress that we do not suggest declawing the cat. It is not like trimming the nails; declawing is basically the equivalent of amputating the last joint of a finger.

There are, however, several humane solutions you can try to help prevent your cat from destroying your furniture any further.

-- Keep the cat's nails trimmed. This will be more comfortable for both of you.

-- Evaluate what kind of fabric the cat likes. For example, if your cat seems to like the woven fabric of your couch, you could cover the couch with a different kind of fabric. However, we understand that you didn't spend good money on your furniture to keep it covered with a sheet.

-- Make the cat's favorite scratching areas annoying to her. Most cats will scratch one or two areas on a piece of furniture. While you are trying to deter the behavior, try putting double-sided tape on the places the cat scratches. There is a product called "Sticky Paws" that works great. The feel of the adhesive strips is unappealing to many cats.

-- Make the scratching post more desirable by choosing a different material. Some scratching posts are made of attractive carpet in nice neutral tones that match the living room. The problem is, these appeal to the people in the house and not the cat. Many cats prefer a scratching post made of sisal fabric (not rope).

-- Choose the best location for the scratcher. If you already have a sisal post, try placing it right beside the furniture where the cat likes to scratch. This may look a little strange, but it's temporary. When the cat starts to use the post, very slowly, over a number of days, begin to inch it toward where you want it in the house.

-- Cats hate sticky things, so try putting double-sided tape on his favorite item and he'll quickly learn to stay away.

Source: http://www.pawnation.com/2010/06/02/ask-the-akc-animal-behaviorist-help-my-cat-is-scratching-up-a



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