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Destructive Clawing

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Destructive Clawing - Averting the Feline Wrecking Crew

What is it?

Clawing helps cats release excess energy, mark territory, and stretch. Similarly, people exercise, bite their nails, or twirl their hair. 


Most important of all...PRAISE any interest your cat shows in  safe toys. Play with the safe toy yourself and encourage your cat to chase and bite the toy.


Why do some cats destructively claw?

If cats are not provided multiple acceptable areas to claw and stretch, then any thing in the home becomes fair game. After all, variety is the spice of life for our cats as well as for us. 
Cats need multiple scratching posts of different sizes and materials around the house. These posts must be tall enough for the adult cat to really reach and stretch. Many posts are too short. If you provide both vertical and horizontal scratching surfaces you allow your cat to select a scratching surface preference. Be sure to offer a variety of textures such as rope, bark, wood, and carpet on posts. Ideally, posts are floor to ceiling to allow the cat to exercise natural behaviors to climb, perch, and be able to rest up high.

Posts must be tall enough for the adult cat to really reach and stretch. Many posts are too short.


Why is it important?

You can steer your cat away from scratching your carpet, rugs, drapes and furniture by giving your cat good alternatives coupled with praise and treats. At the same time make other choices undesirable by covering targeted areas with foil, saran wrap, sticky tape, noise makers or just keeping your cat out of those rooms when you are not home to supervise and teach house rules.


When you are home, interrupt clawing with a sudden loud sound, preferably, not associated with you. For example, hide behind a door and clap your hands loudly, toss a set of keys in that direction. When your cat is interrupted, start a new behavior by tossing a treat, dragging a toy to the scratching post and praising that!  \


You want your cat to think, "that couch does scary things, but when I scratch over here good things happen."  As your cat begins to develop clawing preferences, these areas will become good habits and undesirable clawing will most likely discontinue. 

If your cat destroys items when you are not home, confine your cat until the cat has developed good habits and has become trustworthy. Only allow your cat out of  confinement when in your line of sight.


Punishment only decreases the cat's trust in the family and rarely teaches the cat to stop the unwanted behavior .


What to do


1.  Each time you see your cat act interested in the scratching post, praise that good behavior.  With a soothing, purring-like voice say "Gooood Kitty". 


2.  You can help spark your cat's interest in scratching the right things by showing interest and scratching them yourself.


3.  You can also help jump start your cat's scratching by gently lifting and positioning your cat's paws up and then down the surface of the post. 


4.  If your cat is interested in catnip, apply it to the top and sides of the post.

If you try these steps and see little to no results, consider calling for a Pet Behavior History Analysis and Consultation with a Veterinary Behavior Consultant.


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