Raining Cats & Dogs
cat scratch AP
Scratching is an instinctive behavior for cats and is necessary to keep their claws from growing too long. Unfortunately, it can be extremely damaging to rugs, woodwork and furniture in your home. (AP Photo/file)

Pet tips: Prevent cat scratching

Scratching is an instinctive behavior for cats and is necessary to keep their claws from growing too long. Unfortunately, it can be extremely damaging to rugs, woodwork and furniture in your home. Some pet owners choose to have their cats declawed. This option is inhumane and can leave a cat with lifelong physical and psychological issues.

Try the following steps to prevent your pet's destructive scratching without having the cat declawed:

Apply a scratch deterrent spray, double-sided tape or aluminum foil to the areas of your furniture and carpet that are being scratched. These products make it unpleasant for the cat to scratch those spots and will discourage it from doing so.

Purchase a scratching post if you don't already have one in your home. Choose a post that is made of a material similar to your cat's favorite scratching spots. For instance, if your cat likes to scratch carpets, get a scratching post that is covered in carpet material. Place the post in front of or on top of the affected area so that the cat will scratch it instead of your floor or furniture. As the cat becomes accustomed to using the post, you can gradually move it to a different area.

Give the cat plenty of other ways to entertain itself other than scratching. Provide a variety of toys for the cat to play with, and set up a window perch so that it can watch the outside world. You may want to consider setting up a bird feeder outside the window for extra entertainment. If the cat is sufficiently stimulated, it will be less likely to scratch.

Note: Punishment is effective only if you catch your cat in the act of scratching unacceptable objects and have provided her with acceptable scratching objects. Punishment after the fact will not change the behavior, but it may cause her to be afraid of you or the environment and may elicit defensive aggression.

If you do catch her in the act of scratching inappropriate objects, remote punishment is best, in which you do not directly interact with her. Ideas for remote punishment include making a loud noise (using a whistle, shaking a pop can filled with rocks or slapping the wall) or using a water-filled squirt bottle

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