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Although we adore our cats, we do not always adore some of their behaviors. Destructive scratching in cats is one of the most frequent complaints from cat owners. We know that cats have an inborn, natural need to scratch, but do they really have to shred the new sofa or drapes? Our Las Vegas cat vets provide some tips for understanding destructive scratching in cats—and ways to redirect your cat's claws to a more acceptable surface.
Many Las Vegas cat parents ask us why their cats scratch in the first place. Destructive scratching in cats is largely tied to the feline need to claim territory, investigate items within their territory and to simply play. They are not out to destroy anything, or to irritate you. When a cat scratches something, a scent is dispersed from glands in their paws and sometimes the clear sheath over their claws comes off as well. You cannot really hold a cat back from his or her scratching behavior, but you can redirect it.
First of all, make a mental note of what kinds of surfaces your cat is particularly attracted to scratching. Some cats prefer scratching vertical surfaces like curtains or the sides of sofas and chairs. Some cats like to scratch on horizontal carpeted areas. Also notice what kind of texture your cat seems most attracted to: short carpeting, plush carpet, nubby upholstery like sisal?
Once you know your cat’s preferences (horizontal or vertical and what texture), you can look for or even build a cat scratching post or platform that curbs destructive scratching in cats and channels it into a more appropriate location. The post should be very sturdy and solid at the base so that it remains stable when your cat tries to scratch or climb on it. Place the post near the area where the cat likes to scratch and then reward your cat lavishly with praise and treats when he or she takes advantage of the post instead of your furniture.
It takes some cats awhile to get used to their new scratching digs, so in the meantime it may be necessary to rescue your furniture by making it completely unavailable or at least seriously unattractive as a scratching option. Setting up a loud, noisy, startling “trap” directly in front of the undesired scratching area (like a tower of plastic cups) can scare cats away from your furniture while you work to redirect them to the scratching post. For more information on destructive scratching, be sure to check out our blog.
Keeping your cats claws clipped regularly, and having “Soft Paws” coverings applied each month can also help if your cat persists in scratching unwanted surfaces. We can do this right here at All About Cats Veterinary Hospital in Las Vegas. Please call us with any questions at 702-257-3222.