Growing up, our cats were declawed because that's what everyone did. We cared more about preventing the destruction of property than the cat's well-being. Additionally, we didn't really know how bad declawing is for cats. But now more information is available about how harmful declawing is for cats, and many vets who specialize in treating cats are now refusing to declaw. So what to do about the furniture, etc. you don't want scratched to shreds by your feline roommate? Scratching is a natural and healthy behavior for cats, which means you shouldn't try to stop it. Instead, purchase great scratch posts and check out these helpful tips to get your cat scratching the right things.
Placement is Key
The way to get cats scratching on their own posts, as opposed to your furniture, is to make sure their scratching posts are in places they like. Like the picture below, posts that are highly visible, sturdy, safe and secure attract more cats. Posts displayed in prominent places around the home with an emphasis on the area's cats most frequent will ensure their proper use; consider where your cat currently enjoys scratching and go from there. Cats are territorial and love routine, so pay attention to their daily patterns for optimal placement.
Variety is important
Not having enough posts or variety of scratching materials is another common mistake most owners make. Like people, different cats like different things. For instance, Olive LOVES scratching cardboard, but Peanut could not care less about it. But she does love the faux cowhide box from Ikea, and it's her daily scratching spot. All cats should have access to several different types of posts, and ideally, they have access to both vertical and horizontal posts, as well as a variety of shapes and designs. A good rule of thumb for households of one to three cats is to have at least four posts accessible throughout the home in various rooms. When it comes to scratching posts you can never have too many, and the more you have, the better your cats will feel because scratching makes them happy and healthy. Not to mention, how happy you'll be when your furniture isn't getting scratched!
Add New Scratching Posts
Once a cat has scratched an item enough, it's usually no longer interesting to them. They love being able to dig their claws into fresh material, so once a scratching post has been shredded, they may get bored of it and move onto other untouched items...like that suede chair in the living room. Or in Olive's case, our door frames. But once we add a new post for her to work on, she abandons the doors and turns her attention to the new post.
Trying to make your cat change their behavior is as futile as, well, training a cat! But with the right tools, you, your cat, and your furniture can live in health, harmony, and happiness.
Dr. Lynn Bahr, the founder of Dezi & Roo, is a feline veterinarian and she's passionate about helping kitties keep their claws!