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Redirect cat’s scratching behavior

Scratching is a normal feline behavior. Dr. Lee shares tips to redirect your kitties’ scratching to appropriate surfaces.

Redirect cat’s scratching behavior

Q: We have two adult cats and two kittens. One of the adults and one of the kittens claw our furniture, curtains and walls. We’ve added so many scratching posts and kitty condos that our cats have more furniture than we do. They do claw their own furniture but also our things, even though we use an anti-scratching spray that has an obnoxious odor.

We don’t want to reupholster our furniture every year. What can we do?

A: It’s important to understand that scratching is a normal feline behavior. So, the goal is not to stop it but to redirect your kitties’ scratching to appropriate surfaces.

It’s essential that these vertical scratching posts, horizontal scratching mats and kitty condos be stable, because posts that wobble frighten cats away. Also, make sure posts are tall enough for your adult cats to fully stretch.

Rub catnip on the surfaces you want your cats to use and then entice them with a laser pointer or feather toy. Reward them with petting and a treat.

Try FeliScratch and Feliway, innovative visual and pheromone markers that help train cats where to scratch. If your cats scratch where they shouldn’t, deter them by covering the area with aluminum foil or double-stick tape.

Your cats are less likely to damage your furniture if their claws are kept short. Use especially yummy treats to accustom them to regular claw trimming. After trimming their claws, consider covering them with soft plastic nail caps which remain in place for four to six weeks. If you have trouble applying them, ask your veterinary team for help.

Editor’s Note: You can’t stop your cat from scratching, but you can deter him from scratching the furniture with these cat training tips.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at

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