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Start scratching right

Cats scratch and climb to leave their scent and visual markings, to sharpen their claws and to stretch their legs. Instead of declawing your cat, provide a scratching post where normal scratching behaviors can safely be practiced. Also consider these priorities:

The right scratching post. Choose posts that are sturdy and tall enough for your cat to reach up and stretch while scratching. Most cat trees also include scratching areas. Good choices are sisal rope, corrugated cardboard or wood. Place posts next to areas where your cat likes to sleep. Get a scratching routine started by gently helping your cat do scratching motions and reward immediately.

Close supervision. Keep watch to prevent climbing and scratching in places other than scratching posts. If scratching or climbing occurs, calmly take your cat to the post to redirect it. Reward with a few kibbles of cat food or praise your cat for using the post. Consistency is key. When you’re not able to supervise, confine your cat to a familiar room with a scratching post, litter box, food and water.

While you wait for results. While you wait for results. Until your cat is using the post regularly, confine your cat to a familiar room with toys, scratching posts, litter box, food and water when you are not able to supervise. Remove any items that may be tempting to scratch. Once your cat is frequently scratching the post, gradually allow freedom in the home without supervision.

Troubleshooting. Cats love vertical space and will climb on almost anything. If your cat insists on climbing or scratching on your furniture or drapes, have cat trees, cat perches, etc., that are acceptable areas in which your cat can be up high. Double-stick tape or a similar commercial product helps deter cats from using furniture.