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Buying a Scratching Post – What you Need to Know

There are so many good reasons to own a cat. They use a litter box instead of having to be walked. They generally don’t eat too much. They don’t complain and are overall pretty low maintenance pets. They do, however, scratch. Unless you teach them early where to scratch, your sweet little ball of fluff may destroy thousands of dollars worth of furniture, carpet and clothing

An initial reaction may be to use declawing to solve the problem. Many owners don’t realize what a CRUEL CHOICE DECLAWING IS. Declawing a cat has been compared to removing each of his fingers at the first knuckle. You are maiming your cat if you choose to declaw. It is NOT the same as trimming the cat’s nails. Claws are part of the cats anatomy and are as important to your cat as your fingers and toes are to you.

Once the decision to declaw has been made it cannot be reversed and complications can arise that can make walking painful and can damage the muscles in the cats body. Emotional problems are also common in cats that have been declawed. You better believe that a little scratching is nothing compared to having to deal with a cat that is emotionally unhealthy.

Declawing is so inhumane that it is even illegal in some countries and in other countries, such as the United States, animal activists are working to outlaw it. So, the humane thing to do is to just remove that as an option for dealing with scratching.

This probably isn’t news to you, but scratching is completely normal behavior for a cat. There are a few reasons why cats scratch.

  • Marking – Paws have scent glands, so when a cat scratches he is leaving his mark on the area. Cats do this in the wild to mark their turf and they also want to feel the same ownership in the house in which they live.
  • They Can’t Go the Gym – Cats need a workout and scratching is a form of exercise to them. It allows them to stretch and also works several important muscles.
  • They Like It – Yes, it feels good to a cat to scratch. Often, you’ll notice your cat is purring loudly as he shreds your sofa.

You can’t punish this behavior out of your cat. There is nothing you can do that will stop your cat from wanting to scratch. What you can do, however, is teach him appropriate places to scratch.

Scratching Posts
The purchase of a scratching post that your cat likes will save you from having to replace furniture and flooring. Scratching posts are available in many shapes, styles and textures. Prices start at just a few dollars and go up from there. There may be some trial and error involved in finding the scratching post that your cat really likes.

The best scratching posts will be tall enough that the cat will be able to fully extend her body while using it. You can make other options available, but try to include at least one post that is tall enough for this purpose.

Another point to consider is that the scratching post should be secure. There are some varieties that can be hung from a door. These are ok to use as secondary scratching areas, but remember the door on which they hang is likely to suffer some collateral damage. It’s important to avoid standing scratching posts that can topple easily. If your cat is scratching away and the post falls it is going to startle your pet. Good luck ever getting him to use that scratching post again!

The exact shape probably matters very little to the cat, but the material does. Sisal is considered a favorite choice for scratching post material as it shreds easily. Yes, the post should shred. Your cat WANTS to shred something. It’s either going to be the scratching post or the couch.

Once the material is shredded, you may be inclined to throw it away. Don’t do that, because you cat will still enjoy it and he likes seeing his handiwork once the item is nicely shredded.

If you are working with a kitten, you have an advantage as it is easier to teach kitten appropriate behaviors than it is a full grown cat that is already set in his ways. But no matter your cat’s age, with proper encouragement, you can teach your cat to prefer using a scratching post. Here are some tricks you can try if your cat doesn’t naturally gravitate toward the scratching post.

Placement
Some pet owners buy a nice tall scratching post and then tuck it into a rarely used corner of the house. The cat is going to feel less of a need to mark that area of the house than she will in an area that is used by everyone in the house. Place the post in the living room, or another well used area, until the cat has used it for a while. Then, you can try moving it to a more discreet location.

You should also place a scratching post near where your cat sleeps as many cats like to scratch when they first wake up.

Temptation
If your cat doesn’t seem interested in using the newly purchased scratching post, try laying next to the post and rubbing his belly or offering him treats near the scratching post. Make sure that he views the area around it as full of pleasant memories and thoughts.

Remember, it’s a good idea to place scratching posts in different rooms throughout the house. Experiment with different textures, shapes and placement until you find what works best for your cat.

While some scratching posts are a little pricey, it’s an investment that is worth it when you take into account the satisfaction of your cat – and the longevity of your sofa!

Happy scratching!

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