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Destructive Scratching in Cats
It is normal for cats to scratch objects in their environment. Cats scratch for a variety of
To remove the dead outer layer of their claws.
To mark their territory by leaving both a visual mark and a scent (scent glands on their
To stretch their bodies and flex their feet and claws.
To work off energy.
Because scratching is a normal behavior, it's unrealistic to try to prevent them from
scratching. To prevent destructive scratching, you must redirect the scratching onto
Training Your Cat To Scratch Acceptable Objects
Provide objects for scratching that are appealing, attractive and convenient from your
cat's point of view. Start by observing the physical features of the objects your cat is
scratching. The answers to the following questions will help you understand your cat's
Where are they located?
What texture do they have -- are they soft or coarse?
What shape do they have - are they horizontal or vertical?
How tall are they? At what height does your cat scratch?
Substitute similar objects for her to scratch (rope-wrapped posts, corrugated cardboard
or even a log).
Place the acceptable object(s) near the inappropriate object(s) that she's already
using. Make sure the objects are stable and won't fall over or move around when she
uses them. Keep the appropriate scratching objects as close to your cat's preferred
scratching locations as possible.
Cover the inappropriate objects with something your cat will find unappealing, such as
double sided sticky tape, aluminum foil, sheets of sandpaper or a plastic carpet runner
with the pointy side up.
Don't remove the unappealing coverings or odors from the inappropriate objects until your
cat is consistently using the appropriate objects for several weeks, or even a month.
Removed them gradually, not all at once.
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, won't change the behavior, and it may cause her to be afraid of you Punishment
won't resolve scratching problems because it doesn't teach your cat where to scratch
Pet Behavior Articles - Feline Behavior