Kitties are soft, fluffy and cuddly…except for those razor-sharp claws. Those claws can do damage to you, your furniture and your home. Here are 9 tips to stop your kitty from scratching so you can get back to cuddling.
#1 – Offer Alternatives
Be sure to give your kitty things he can scratch on – after all it’s a healthy part of being a cat. Buy several different sizes (they should be big enough that your cat can stretch out their paws and extend those claws), shapes and textures so you can tell which your cat prefers and put them in the places in your house your cat normally scratches.
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#2 – Read Your Kitty
Learn to read your cat’s body language. If your cat is saying “leave me alone,” then respect that. A lot of people get scratched because they are trying to pet their cat in a way the cat does not like. A prime example is the belly. Most cat’s don’t like to be scratched or rubbed on their exposed belly.
#3 – Don’t Play Rough
When Kittens are young, those claws are tiny and they don’t have the strength (or reach!) they will when they are older. Many people think it’s cute and fun to wrestle a kitten, allowing them to bite and scratch. However, you are teaching your cat that scratching is okay and will only get worse as he gets older. It’s best to not use your hand as a toy and avoid rough play.
#4 – Entice Your Kitty To Use The Scratcher
Once you bring home a new scratcher, entice him to use it instead of your furniture. You can do this by putting catnip on it, putting a favorite toy near it or dangling a toy above so he reaches up with his claws extended. Be sure to praise your kitty when he goes for the scratcher!
#5 – “Catch” & Praise
A key to teaching your cat that his scratcher is appropriate is catching him using it and praising him. Be ready with treats and give him plenty of “good kitties” while treating him after he has used his scratcher.
#6 – Clicker Training
You can actually clicker train your cat to use his scratcher. This might be a good solution if you have a cat that just doesn’t seem interested in any scratcher. Best Friend Animal Society has a great video showing the basics of clicker training to get you started.
#7 – Handling Training
Also work on handling your kitty positively. Start with just reaching your hand toward your cat, to the side. Don’t actually touch him. If he doesn’t take a swipe, reward him with treats. Continue to do this until you can lightly touch your cat without him scratching you. Work up to being able to hold and handle him without being scratched. Remember to pay attention to those body language cues and don’t push your cat past his comfort level or you will get scratched.
#8 – Stop Play
If your cat does scratch you while playing, immediately stop all play and walk away. This teaches your cat that if he wants to keep playing, he will keep those claws to himself.
#9 – Aversives
You can also use aversives so make the area your cat had been scratching on less appealing. Suggestions include putting tin foil over the area, double sided sticky tape (Sticky Paws), carpet runner turned upside down, etc. You will have better luck, however, if you focus on the positive training techniques mentioned above.