Thursday, August 30, 2007

Help! My Furniture's Being Shredded!

How often have I heard people sigh - "You can have great furniture or you can have cats - you can't have both!"

Sadly, many cats are declawed - or abandoned - for just this reason!

But it's true, isn't it? With the way cats scratch, you surely can't have both great furniture and cats with claws...can you?

Of course you can! It just takes a little strategic thinking, that's all.

First of all, it's important to understand why cats scratch. According to the Humane Society's article on Destructive Scratching, there are a number of reasons why cats may rake their claws over your furniture:

* To remove the dead outer layer of their claws.
* To mark their territory by leaving both a visual mark and a scent-they have scent glands on their paws.
* To stretch their bodies and flex their feet and claws.
* To work off energy.

So the next question is - if this is normal behavior for your cat, and it feels soooo good to do it, how can you redirect it away from your furniture and carpets?

First of all, give your cat irresistible things that s/he will love to scratch, and place them next to the items you don't want scratched. The HSUS offers a checklist for you to identify your cat's scratching habits:

* Where are they located?
* What texture do they have-are they soft or coarse?
* What shape do they have-are they horizontal or vertical?
* How tall are they? How high does your cat scratch?

When you have your data, look for scratching substitutes that resemble your cat's favorite targets. Put them nearby, so that when your cat's tempted to claw, a better option is handy. Then - make those better options irresistible!

To compel your cat to dig in, mist the new scratching items with catnip oil. Just don't get any oil on the furniture you're protecting!

If your cat(s)really love to scratch, get lots of scratching toys, mist them well with catnip, and scatter them through the house. You might also spray nontoxic repellent mist on your furniture.

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