Destructus Interruptus

If your cat's taken a liking to your favorite sofa, don't despair—it's not too late to change her behavior for the better.

Scratching is a normal behavior for cats-- it tones muscles in the paws and forearms, helps remove the outer sheath of the nail, and relaxes frustrated felines.But how can one steer their favorite feline away from the rug or couch? By "interrupt and redirect" training. Whenever you see your cat scratching inappropriately, interrupt the behavior and redirect her to the scratching post.You will need some handy training tools to help you speed up your training: 1) a squirt gun, 2) double sided tape, 3) garbage bags or furniture covers, 4) a scratching post, 5) inexpensive nail clippers, and 6) patience.

 Your squirt gun should be used only when you see your cat scratching inappropriately (interrupt). Then

immediately take her to a scratching post, place her paws on the post and help her make that scratching movement, and then praise generously (redirect). Never squirt your cat if you haven't "caught her in the act,"- and never hit your cat.

 Why not try placing double-sided tape on or near the area where kitty scratches? While double-sided tape isn't harmful, cats don't like to tread on sticky surfaces. You can also temporarily cover up tempting areas with furniture covers or garbage bags to make them less inviting. Place multiple scratching posts around the house. You can make these feline furnishings more attractive by scenting them with fresh catnip. Beware of carpeted scratching posts, since these may encourage your cat to scratch on carpeted surfaces. Either rewrap the carpet inside out and restaple, or invest in sisal rope scratching posts.

 "Interrupt and redirect" training combined with regular nail trimming will make for a happier cat. If you don't know how to trim your cat's nails, ask your veterinarian to show you. Declawing may be a quick fix, but this painful and debilitating surgery can have lifelong consequences.

 Finally, patience is the key to working with your cat. Like anything worthwhile, patience pays off. Happy scratching!

 Article by Janet Winikoff of Rancho Coastal Humane Society






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