How to keep your cat from destroying your home – Part 1

Keeping your cat from tearing your house apart can be quite the challenge. No matter how hard you try, a cat is likely to cause some damage. However, with some planning and a little training, it is possible to minimize the destruction.

First off, you have to understand the core nature of your relationship with you cat. You don’t own him, he (or she) owns you. It’s his house, you are just living in it with him. From the cats point of view, tables, chairs, counters, benches, bathtubs, beds, sofas, priceless glass vases, socks, and any sort of dangling power cord (preferably plugged in) all belong to the cat. If you’re a good owner he may let you borrow them from time to time.

The first practical step to take is to “cat proof” your home. Like “baby proofing”, this means you need to be aware of fragile and delicate things that kitty may knock over either intentionally or though idle curiosity. Tall vases, delicate lamps, crystal – all need to be arranged and displayed in such a way that the cat is less likely to knock them over. Don’t assume that items placed up high are not accessible, cats are notorious for getting up in high places that you would never expect them to reach. Often a cat will not be trying to damage things like this, rather they do it accidentally when they are just poking about, investigating the room, or maybe when they are chasing something.

Provide your cat with accepted toys. Cat toys don’t have to be expensive or complicated. Many cats will be entertained for hours with things as simple as a paper grocery bag and a short piece of string. I’ve had kittens that will chase a wadded up piece of paper around the floor for hours – it doesn’t get any cheaper than that. By providing toys that the cat knows are ok to play with, you minimize the chances of the cat picking things to play with that you’d rather not have him chewing on.

Blocking off rooms and parts of the house as “off limit” areas can be another way of preventing kitty from tearing things up. This can be hard to accomplish, as many cats love to skitter between your legs and sneak themselves in to places they know they aren’t allowed. My cat now isn’t allowed in the garage, which of course has turned in to the only part of the house that she wants to be in.

Assuming your cat has claws, it is vitally important to train him or her not to use them to shred everything in sight. This is often easier said than done. Be sure to regularly trim your cats claws. This MUST be done with a proper pair of cat claw clippers, not human nail clippers. Mistakes in trimming claws can be very painful, be careful and research the proper procedure before attempting this. You must also provide your cat with something they can use to scratch. Commercial scratching posts are easily available, although often not cheap. Homemade posts can be made easily with some wood and a few scraps of old carpet. Train your cat early on that scratching on the furniture is a definite no-no, but that the provided post is ok. Cats are smart enough to know the difference if they are given proper training.

Obviously there is much more that goes in to training a cat that can’t be included here. But with proper precautions and care, it is possible to keep your cat from making your house look like it was overrun by a Division of Tanks. Give your cat toys to focus on, provide scratching posts and be sure to train them on proper behavior and you should save yourself and belongings from kitty destruction. Good luck!

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