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16–19 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Kitten

How to Teach Your Kitten to Scratch His Post, Not Your Furniture :: Four Ingestible Hazards for Your Kitten :: Three Signs That Your Kitten Has Reached Puberty :: The Mechanics of Spaying and Neutering

How to Teach Your Kitten to Scratch His Post, Not Your Furniture

Scratching is an inborn and hard-wired behavior in your kitten. It serves a variety of vital functions including grooming, territory marking, emotional release, and stretching. Your kitten needs to scratch, and if you don't want him to scratch your carpets or furniture, you need to provide him with a better alternative – and here's how:

  • The first thing to do is get a good scratching post or a high-quality cat tree with one or more good scratching posts. The post needs to be tall enough that your kitten can get a good stretch, and it needs to have a good, sturdy base so it won't wobble or fall over when it's being used. Sisal fabric and rope are the two best materials for scratching posts. Carpeted posts may cause problems because your kitten will learn that it's OK to scratch on any carpeted surface, including your rugs.

  • Start your kitten early with a scratching post. If you offer your kitten an awesome post and he marks it with his scent early on, it's a lot more likely that he won't scratch anywhere else.

  • Put the post in a central location so he can't miss it. If the post is obvious and easily available, your furniture and carpets will be safe. If you have a large house or apartment, consider getting several scratching posts so your kitten won't have to look all over the place when he gets the urge to scratch.

  • You won't have to do a lot of teaching to get your kitten to use the post. He'll probably use it as a jungle gym first because kittens love to climb to the top of things. Pretty soon his instinct to scratch will develop, and by that time he'll already be bonded to the post.

  • Entice your kitten to scratch the post by playing games around the scratching post. A good game of "Thing On A String" will inevitably cause your kitten to dig his nails into the post; he'll notice how awesome it feels and get the idea to use it for its intended purpose. You can also scratch on the post with your own fingernails or a fork. Just hearing the noise might tempt your cat to try it himself.

Advice from Other Cat Owners 

Distract Your Kitten with a Bell

I have two Russian Blue kittens that are now 17 weeks old, and already they come to the sound of a bell. This is great as if you have more then one kitten it saves you calling all their names to get them to come to you at the same time. Using a bell or rattle or anything with a distinctive sound will do, as long as you train them to that sound and praise them when they come to you.

Not long after I got my kittens, I got a bad cold and lost my voice. I didn't need my voice to get them to come to me -- the bell did the trick. I rattle a cat ball that has a bell in it. When they come running I throw them the ball and praise them so they always think it's something nice they are coming to. This will come in handy once they are big boys and go outside.

~Michelle P, owner of a Russian Blue

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