While most cat owners understand scratching is a natural behaviour for cats, inappropriate scratching can lead to real irritation for some cat owners.
It’s important to remember that for cats, this activity has multiple benefits. Scratching keeps their nails in tip-top condition, improves muscle tone, and can also be a means of marking territory.
Cats don’t scratch to be destructive or act out their frustration — this is simply a natural part of being a cat.
If you’ve ever visited a pet product store or stepped into the pet isle at a department store, you have probably noticed that there are quite a lot of items designed for cats to scratch.
I could take a page out of a Dr. Seuss book when it comes to different kinds of scratchers for cats. Some are big, some are small, and some are very, very tall! There are some designed to hang and dangle, and others that twist and turn at an angle. From carpet to cardboard and sisal rope, too. There are a million things for a cat to do!
You get the picture.
One of the most important things to remember is that there are tons of different kinds of scratchers out there, so if your cat isn’t interested in one type, try another.
Don’t expect that every cat will be drawn to a scratching post covered in carpet. We had a cat for many years that loved nothing more than a plain old cardboard box to rub his claws on.
All cats aren’t cut from the same cloth — and it’s important to find the right angle and surface that your cat prefers.
Forcing a cat to use a particular scratcher in which he’s not interested can deter him from using it altogether.
Many experts agree that making a noise to distract a cat that is scratching inappropriately is a good way to create a negative association with scratching in that spot. (However, it is important that you do not take your cat immediately to an appropriate scratching spot after making a noise to correct him, as he may associate the appropriate scratching spot with the negative noise.)
There are many methods out there to discourage inappropriate scratching behaviours. Here are just a few that I’ve heard have had good results:
Keep nails trimmed
@: For some cats scratching is simply about keeping nails in good shape.
Cover the surface
This is a very simple and effective trick. Most cats are selective about the type of surface they scratch, so covering the area with a sheet or another item that changes the surface area can be a simple and effective deterrent.
Most cats do not like the way tin foil feels, although it doesn’t work for all cats. Some pet owners have great success covering a surface in tin foil to keep their cat from scratching at it or walking on it.
Most cats do not like the feeling of a sticky substance on their feet, and double-sided tape can be used to cover a surface to discourage some cats from scratching at it or walking on it. Note that tape is only effective if not placed in an area where it will gather dust and loose its "sticky" properties.
@: Some cats are turned off by bitter smelling sprays, and spraying a surface with bitter apple or another type of bitter spray can be quite a turnoff for some cats.
These are odorless sprays or diffusers that are used to emit a pheromone into the air. The pheromones are especially effective with cats that are territorial markers, as they have a calming effect on most cats, and can help reduce your cat’s urges to mark his territory.
While I can’t say all of these methods will work on every cat, these are a few ideas that have been successful in discouraging inappropriate scratching.
Remember that your cat does need to scratch, so providing an appropriate outlet for this behaviour is important.
Dana Grove is an animal lover who works with several pet organizations in Brandon.