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How can I get my cat to scratch what he's meant to scratch?

This is a place to gain some understanding of cat behavior and to assist people in training their cats and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other cat owners and lovers...not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
Billi

Let me go high- up there!
 
 
Purred: Fri Feb 8, '13 9:05am PST 
I have a problem with my cat, Billi, who scratches sofa and rug but not the scratch pads I have provided. I have tried putting it right by where he scratches the rug, sprinkled cat nip, but no. He refuses to scratch the scratch pad! I have two different kinds (both cardboard material), and he ignores both. Does he want the carpeted kind? How can I get him to scratch what I want him to scratch? I don't want to have to purchase a carpeted scratch post (usually more pricey than cardboard) only to find him ignoring that one too.

Aloo is a good girl who loves to scratch the scratch pads. Couldn't Billi learn from her behavior? I tried showing him by scratching it myself, too! He looked at me like I'm a stupid woman! (Just kidding)

Let me know if you have experienced something like this and might have a solution.

Thanks!
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Buddha

1283889
 
 
Purred: Fri Feb 8, '13 10:16pm PST 
Cats like to scratch on rough surfaces and objects that are stable and firm and that won't fall over when the cat goes to climb or scratch on it. My cats love the carpeted cat trees with posts that are wrapped with sisal rope. Cats love the texture of the sisal rope wrapping for sharpening their claws. My cats also have a sisal wrapped scratching post about 2 feet tall on a carpeted base that's big enough that the scratching post cannot tip over and they like it too.


A log with the bark left on it that's big enough to not tip over or that's nailed to a sturdy heavy base to stabilize it, or that's put on its side (you can lay it on one or more cheap throw rugs to keep any mess from the bark from getting on your main carpet) makes a cheap scratching post a cat will love. Thoroughly bug spray the log with an insect spray with Nylar or other insect growth inhibitor in it before you bring the log into the house. For many years I had cat trees made of real tree branches with carpeted shelves and houses in the branches until they finally wore out and fell apart and the person who used to make and sell them wasn't around anymore. I've seen one place online that made and sold cat furniture made from real tree branches, their cat furniture was quite expensive.

My cats also love a toy that's called Turbo Scratcher. It's a circular plastic toy that has a ball that runs in a track around the outside edge of it and a piece of coiled rough cardboard approximately 10-12 inches in diameter fits into the center. It comes with some dried catnip to sprinkle on the cardboard to attract the cats. The center cardboard scratching coils are replaceable.
Even without catnip on it, my cats love the turbo scratcher. The only downside is that with the heavy use it gets, the turbo scratcher's cardboard coil has to be frequently replaced.

I covered my couch with a big bedspread to protect it from claws and cat hair and I pinned bathtowels to the sidearms of the couch to protect them. The covering is easy to remove when I have company or when it needs washed.

I also regularly clip the claws of my housecats. Use a clipper made specifically for cat claws, they are much easier to use and do a much better job of quickly and cleanly cutting the claw and not splitting it, etc. Cat claws are easy to clip because it's generally very easy to see where the vein in the cat's claw ends and avoid cutting the claw too short and nicking the vein. Cat's claws are also rather hard and brittle and easier to clip compared to dog and rabbit claws. With a cat who protests too vigorously for me to restrain the cat with my arms while clipping the claws, , I wrap the cat in towel tightly enough that the cat cannot escape, put the paw out that I'm working on, clip the claws, put that paw back inside the towel, repeat the process with another paw. Most cats do not like having their claws clipped and will put up quite a struggle at least the first few times their claws are clipped. Most of my cats usually get wise to the claw clipper and leave the room when they see me pick up the clipper unless I'm sneaky about it.I keep the clipper close by and wait for the cat to come to me, then I grab him, clip his claws, hold him, and pet him until he's calmed down and enjoying the petting, then I release him. After having their claws clipped a few times, many cats will put up much less of a struggle although there are a few who I always have to wrap in a towel when I clip claws. Buddha is the easiest cat to clip claws, he just lays there and lets me clip his claws and get it over with.

Cats whose claws aren't clipped regularly or cats who don't sharpen their claws enough to keep them worn down can easily get into problems with overgrown claws. A cats claws, if not kept clipped or worn down enough, can easily overgrow until they curve all the way around and the end of the claw penetrates the pad and starts growing into the pad. This will make it very difficult for a cat to walk and use its paws, its paws will collect dirt, the condition is painful and open sores in the pad caused by overgrown claws easily become infected.

Kitten claws grow fast and are needle sharp. Cats whose claws are regularly clipped tend to have thicker claws with tips that are more blunt. Front claws generally grow faster than rear claws. I find the claws on the center toes of the rear feet usually grow more quickly than the other toes on the rear feet. The claws on the rear feet usually need clipping less frequently than the claws on the front feet although I find that contrary to what is often claimed, cats don't keep their rear claws worn down that much from being in their litter etc. I generally have to clip at least the tips of the center two toes on each rear foot every two or three times I clip the front claws.

After a few times of clipping claws, claw clipping becomes easier. Having had cats all my life and much practice clipping cat claws, I can clip cat claws so fast the job is over almost before most of my cats have time to even start protesting.
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Billi

Let me go high- up there!
 
 
Purred: Sat Feb 9, '13 5:43pm PST 
Thank you for a detailed response. I might try the scratch post type one covered in sisal or carpet. I wish he wasn't so picky! I do clip their nails frequently while they are tired and half asleep. They don't mind. I make sure to get them used to getting their paws touched. I clip just the tip and do so frequently to avoid risking going to close. The middle ones and the side one get long quickly!
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BK

Ambassador at- the Kitty U.N.
 
 
Purred: Sun Feb 10, '13 1:00pm PST 
One thing you can do to save your furniture until you find something he likes to scratch on is put some double sided tape on the places you don't want him to scratch. I put them on the sides of my couch and they really helped. Eventually everyone stopped trying to scratch there and started using the posts and flat floor scratchers. You can try one of the sisal ones if he doesn't like the cardboard.
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