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Tortoiseshell kitten (2 months)

Top 10 Ways to Stop Your Cat from Scratching

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Scratching is an instinctive behavior for all cats, stemming from their days in the wild where keeping sharp claws enabled them to hunt effectively, climb, and protect themselves. Cats also used scratching as a way to mark territory, which many still feel the need to do. For today’s cats, scratching removes the outer layer of dead cells from the claw and helps them stretch their muscles. But as wonderful as scratching might be for your cat, it can wreak havoc on your furniture and carpets. Here are the top 10 ways to stop your cat from scratching where he shouldn’t.

  1. Buy a scratching post. Chances are, you’re not going to be able to stop your cat from scratching completely, but you can divert the habit to a more appropriate location. Scratching posts, especially the larger ones, are great, as they allow cats to scratch, stretch, and even exercise in a place where they’re not going to hurt anything.
  2. Spray favorite scratching sites with a repellent odor. Cats typically don’t like certain odors like citrus. Use potpourri spray, orange peels, or some other scent pleasurable to humans as a deterrent to your cat.
  3. Cover the furniture. Cats stay away from certain textures like that of double-sided tape, plastic, and aluminum foil. If you go with tape, test it first in an inconspicuous spot to make sure it’s not going to harm your upholstery.
  4. Use a noise deterrent. Some cats are easily startled by unexpected loud noises. You can make your own alarm by filling an aluminum can with rocks or pennies, or purchase one specifically designed for your curtains or furniture.
  5. Give your cat his own carpet. Cats love the texture of the reverse side of rugs. Place a scrap piece of rug over an area where your cat has been scratching, tape it down, and let him go at it.
  6. Trim your cat’s nails. While this may not stop your cat from scratching, it can reduce the damage he does. Start clipping your cat’s nails when he’s little, so he gets used to it early on.
  7. Remove his scent. When cats scratch, they also leave their scent, and this often explains their need to return to certain favorite scratching places. Fortunately, there are pet odor removal solutions you can find at your local pet store that can help with this.
  8. Train them young. Kittens are much easier to teach than older cats. If your kitty starts scratching somewhere you don’t want him to, immediately pick him up, put him in front of the scratching post, and pet him (which can cause cats to knead). Eventually, he’ll get the idea.
  9. Move things around. Sometimes you can stop a scratching problem by limiting access to that spot. See if you can move the furniture around to block favorite scratching areas.
  10. Use a spray bottle. Although discipline can be tricky when it comes to cats, a spray bottle filled with water can sometimes work. Only squirt your cat at the moment he’s scratching and accompany it with a sharp no.
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