Scratching is a normal thing for cats to do, it’s in their nature. This isn't exactly a revelation, since you probably have the evidence everywhere — on your sofa, the curtains, and chairs. Though your kitty's natural instinct for scratching may not be big news, it is a fact that you'll need to take into account if you're going to make any progress in winning the battle to keep her from scratching in undesirable places. Here are some things to know about cats and their scratching behaviors.

1. You Can't Keep Your Cat from Scratching

What you can do is stop her from scratching those items you value and want to keep untouched. You can't make a cat do anything she doesn't want to do. Be clear on that. And getting her to stop doing something she enjoys is going to be difficult. Therefore, you have to think smart and re-channel her desires.

2. Don’t Punish Your Cat

Cats don't understand physical punishment, and it’s wrong to hit your cat. Punishment simply doesn't work and is likely to make your situation worse. Although your cat is clever about many things, she won't understand that you're punishing her for instinctually scratching. She will only understand that she is being treated badly and this may make her insecure and stimulate her to scratch even more, or develop other undesirable behavior problems. Beware, cats have excellent memories and hold serious grudges.

3. So Why Do Cats Scratch?

So why do they scratch your seemingly most prized possessions? Understanding your cat's need to scratch is the key to channeling your kitty's efforts to more acceptable areas. Cats scratch things to mark territory. Scratching is a territorial instinct by which cats place their mark and establish their turf. Through scratching, cats mark their domains with more than just visible signs of claw marks. Cats' paws also have scent glands that leave their own special message on their territory. It's your kitty's way of adding her own personal touch to the home. They also scratch for exercise. Scratching keeps your cat in shape, and when she stretches, pulls, and works the muscles of her front quarters. They also scratch for pleasure, and it feels good to stretch and mark territory! So you are left with only one solution- learn to live with your cat’s scratching by coming up with alternatives in the home.

4. Provide Your Cat with an Appropriate Scratching Post

Since your cat brings you so much joy, you decide to buy her the most luxurious scratching post you can find. You take it home, and your feline friend gives you a blank stare and doesn’t even acknowledge the scratching post. You decide to try to show her how to use the post by taking her front paws and making scratching motions at the post.  She, of course, struggles till she gets free of you and continues to ignore the scratching post. Train her to use the post by rubbing some catnip on the desired toy or scratching post, and this will incentivize her to use it. Remember that an important part of scratching is the cat's desire to mark territory, so a scratching post should be in an area that's used by the family, not hidden in a back corner. Initially, put the post where your cat goes to scratch, like by a sofa, a chair, or wherever your kitty has chosen as her territory, and you may need more than one post to cover her favorite spots. Security is a major factor in making the post appealing to your cat. If your kitty is reluctant to give up her old scratching areas, you can discourage her by  covering the area with aluminum foil or double-sided tape. Cats also have an aversion to citrus odors. Use lemon-scented sprays or a potpourri of lemon and orange peels to make her former scratching sites less attractive to her.

If your kitty still persists in scratching the furniture, try squirting her with a water gun or a spray bottle. Another option is a loud whistle or other noisemaker. You must consistently use all of these deterrents while she is scratching for them to be effective. The point is to establish an aversion to the spot you don't want her to scratch.

5. Start Them Young

From the beginning, teach your kitten the appropriate place to scratch. Use the methods already described, especially playing around the scratching post to capture her interest. Take advantage of your kitten's desire to play and attach toys to the post. She will soon discover how good it feels to scratch her designated scratching post surface.

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