How to keep your cat from destroying your home – Part 6

Cats are, generally speaking, wonderful pets. They are quiet, don’t bark, don’t require constant attention, instintively litter-trained, and easily amused-one of my cats’ favorite toys is a wine cork, with the wined bits cut out.

They can also be somewhat problematic, in that they’ll scratch your furniture, knock over your vases, eat your plants, shed, and keep you awake at night. The rest of this piece will discuss how to deal with these common issues.

Problem #1: My cat scratches my furniture.

Solution: Cats need to scratch. It’s an essential aspect of cat behavior, which is what many people don’t seem to understand. When cats scratch, they not only sharpen their claws, they also stretch the muscles along their backs, keeping them lithe and limber, engendering the flexibility and reflexes that make cats what they are. So shell out for a scratching post that your cat will scratch. A good, rough surface, as close to tree bark as possible, which is at least as high as your cat can stretch (the top should be about 3 feet above the ground), will let your cat stretch and scratch and keep it amused. When you first bring it home, rub some catnip into it, to make it irresistible. Praise the cats lavishly EVERY TIME they scratch it, with ear scratches, pettings, cuddles if your cat likes that (mine don’t). Otherwise ignore, or, if you must protect your furniture, use a squirt-bottle to discourage them from scratching where they shouldn’t.

Also, learn to clip your cat’s claws. Keeping them trim also helps limit the damage that’s done when they do scratch out of place-and they will, until they learn not to (Shadow did). Softpaws, soft, plastic silicon sheaths that are slipped over the claws, are also good for limiting the damage that’s done.

Problem #2: My cat likes to jump up on the mantle…where I keep my Ming Dynasty china tea set.

The classic question of how to keep a cat from where you don’t want it to go…is, once again, to praise it when it goes to where you want it to go, and either ignore or squirt-bottle it when it doesn’t. The second half to the equation is to do these two things ALL THE TIME. Cats are sneaky creatures, and if you don’t do it ALL THE TIME, i.e., if you are lax about enforcing the policy, they’ll get the idea that they can do whatever they want if you’re not looking. Of course, it also helps if you have a place for them that is nowhere near anything breakable, that is high up, where they can survey

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