Picking out a new living room set is among the joys of nesting -- unless you fear your feline friend clawing it to shreds. Don't stress. With a little effort, you can train your kitty to use cat trees to curb his clawing needs instead of your new furniture.
Purpose of Clawing
Your cuddly kitty doesn't want to make you angry by clawing your leather sofa; its just something he needs to do. Cats claw for a variety of reasons. Scratching helps remove the shedding outer husk that surrounds each nail. Your fuzzy pal may claw to mark his territory, since kitties have scent glands in the pads of their feet. And your frisky companion may scratch simply because it feels good. It allows him to stretch his entire body, legs and toes. Since there is no way to get your fuzzy buddy to quit scratching altogether, you'll need to find the right type of post or cat tree for him to claw.
Selecting Cat Trees
There's not much more aggravating than purchasing a top-of-the-line fancy cat tree that your feline won't scratch. Before investing big bucks in a bulky piece of kitty furniture, get a few small scratching posts made of various materials. Some felines prefer the rough texture of sisal, while others may enjoy scratching carpet. Pick out two or three posts made of different materials and see if one piques Max's interest more than another type. Once you get them into your home, you'll need to train your furry friend these are what he's allowed to scratch.
Training Your Feline
Cats already know how to scratch, so you don't need to take him over to his new cat tree and show him how to do it. Instead you'll need to teach him that the new tree is an appropriate place to claw and your living room set is not acceptable. Location is key. If he tends to claw the rug and the furniture in the same area, put his new cat tree in that specific spot. As he gets used to his new piece of furniture, you can slowly start to move it where you would like it. Putting catnip on the scratching post may entice him to use it. You can also bribe him with kitty treats or, if you have a big cat tree, give him his dinner on one of the perches. He'll quickly learn that the tree is his special turf.
Cat scratching trees and posts need to be stable. If he claws at it and the post topples on him, he won't want to go near it again. They should be tall enough that he can fully extend his body while stretching upward. Pick out a post that is at least 28 inches tall, suggests Dr. Christianne Schelling, a California-based veterinarian.
You'll want to have a scratching post or tree on each level of the home so he can claw and stretch as he pleases. If Max continues to claw your furniture, place a cloth soaked in citrus or menthol oil in the area. Cats don't like those scents, and they may discourage him from going over there. Putting double-sided sticky tape over the edges of your sofa or legs of the dining room table can also keep Max from destroying your furniture.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.