The scratching post will become more desirable if you brush a feather up and down the side, sprinkle it with cat nip, or spray the pheromone product “Feliway” on it. Providing a “cat tree” will be even more tempting for your cat.
The goal is to create a scratching surface that is more appealing than any other piece of furniture in your house.
Each time you see your cat using the new post, praise them with a treat. Discouraging continued use of the furniture can be tricky because cats quickly associate punishment with their owner’s presence and not the act of scratching.
If you yell or make loud noises, your cat will probably continue to scratch the furniture when you are away. Using a squirt bottle may work better, only if you are able to squirt the cat in a way that he does not know where the water comes from.
Other “booby-trap” methods include the use of balloons, double sided tape, aluminum foil or antiperspirant sprays. If you’ve done everything possible to deter your cat and he continues scratching the couch, keep the nails short by trimming every couple of weeks. For some cats, this may be enough to prevent furniture damage.
By now, it’s obvious that training your cat to use an appropriate surface to scratch takes a lot of effort. It is easy to see why, for many cat owners, declawing is an attractive solution.
Of all the elective surgeries performed by veterinarians, declawing is one of the most controversial. It is important for cat owners to have a discussion with their veterinarian about the declaw procedure, after-care and alternatives prior to deciding if it is the best solution. No matter what the decision, taking steps that prevent destruction in the home will only create a much happier relationship between cats and owners.
On another note, I’d like to welcome readers to contact me with questions or topics, and I’ll do my best to incorporate them into future Paw Prints columns.
Dr. Anne Weiskotten Galton is a veterinarian at Cazenovia Animal Hospital. She can be reached at 655-3409 or firstname.lastname@example.org.