Cat behavior naturally includes scratching. This is important for keeping their claws in shape, allowing them to shed old upper layers of their claws, leaving behind healthy nails. Scratching also serves as a territorial marking Behavior. There is some thought that cats are more likely to mark their territory with their urine when they are de-clawed because they cannot perform their natural marking behaviors by scratching.
We do not recommend de-clawing UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. De-clawing is the amputation of the tips of their toes, and is very painful. Its long-term psychological effects are still not well known or studied, and it is not a necessary means of curing a natural instinct such as scratching. If you believe de-clawing is the only option for your pet, please contact us and we will help you exhaust every other option.
An important thing to remember is that kittens will scratch inappropriately when they are young. All kittens do it, and there is nothing you can do to keep them from scratching altogether. The key is to get them to scratch DESIRED areas (scratching posts).
Kittens are clumsy when they are young, which is why they leave little scratch marks on your arms. They will become less clumsy as they mature, so please be patient. If you are having a hard time with this behavior, you can try a product called Soft Paws, which are plastic nail caps.
There are three basic scratching materials that are available, which are cardboard, carpet, and rope (sisal). Different cats prefer different types of scratching material. Initially, you should offer your cat all three of these materials to establish which one your cat likes the most.
Cats do not typically like to scratch on lightweight scratchers that move easily, such as the type that hang on doorknobs. Please ensure the scratchers are secure, wherever they may be. For example, cardboard types should be against a wall, or up against a corner to ensure it doesn’t move when your cat tries to use it.
The scratching post, tree, etc. should be tall or long enough to allow your cat to stretch to his/her full length. If you cat likes catnip, it is a good idea to sprinkle some on the scratcher. This allows your kitty a tasty little treat when they scratch in the appropriate area.
When training your cat to use a scratching post, it is very important that the post is not hidden or kept out of plan view. It is imperative that it is kept out in the open where your cat spends the most time. Most cats like to scratch immediately after they wake up from a nap, so you should keep a post near your cat’s favorite napping area.
If your cat begins to scratch a “forbidden” item or area, place the post directly on or in front of that area. This will offer your cat the appropriate scratching option. Allow your cat easier access to the post than these “forbidden” areas. Once your cat is comfortable using the scratching post as a primary means of “nail exercise”, you can try keeping it in an area that suits your needs a little more.
There are many commercial products out there to keep your cats away from places you don’t want them to be. Feel free to investigate these products. Two inexpensive forms of “booby” trapping are double-sided tape and aluminum foil. If your cat is scratching a forbidden area, try applying one of these products directly on the area to discourage your cat from using them.
You can also use a firm, gruff voice while saying “no!” AS SOON as you see or hear your cat doing any inappropriate scratching. Another option is to leave water bottles or water squirt guns around the house to use for spraying your cat as soon as you witness inappropriate Behavior. It is vital that you only do this AS SOON as you witness your cat in the act. If you provide any means of punishment after the fact, your cat will become confused and not understand what you are trying to communicate.
Using a combination of aluminum foil and water guns, or of double-sided tape and a firm “no”, are more beneficial than just using one of the above tactics. If you spray your cat with water when you are home, they will only learn to scratch inappropriate areas when you are NOT home, which is when the aluminum foil or tape comes in handy.