Scratching is as natural to a cat as grooming. Not only does scratching help your cat remove the outer dead layer from her claws, but it also serves as a good stretching exercise for her shoulders and back. Finally, scratching provides your cat with a way to mark her territory. Scent glands located in her paw pads allow her to leave her scent on what is “hers.”
Unfortunately, though, sometimes that territory consists of your furniture or other objects in your home that you would prefer remain unmarred. One of the best ways to keep your couch from getting ripped to ribbons is to instead provide your cat with a scratcher – a place all her own where she is encouraged to act on her scratching instinct.
Getting your cat off on the right paw with a new scratcher is key to making sure she decides for herself that it is a better choice for scratching than the sofa. Here are five ways to encourage your cat to use the scratcher:
- Choose the Right Type of Scratcher
Before you run to the store to purchase a cat scratcher, watch your cat to learn her particular scratching style. Does she like to stretch up and scratch on the vertical edge of the couch or on a doorway? You will then want to buy her a vertical scratcher, either one that is taller than her or one that hangs or secures to the wall for vertical scratching. Does she prefer to stand on the rug or the arm of the couch and scratch with her arms below her? In this case, you will want to purchase a horizontal scratcher that she can stand on and scratch.
- Choose the Right Material
Scratchers are made in a wide variety of materials: sisal, jute, cardboard, carpet, and more. Try to determine if your cat likes soft or rough surfaces for scratching. You might need to purchase a couple of scratchers and see which she prefers.
- Place the Scratcher in the Right Place
Besides marking an item she likes – such as your couch – your cat may also be marking a location as her own. If you consistently see your cat scratching a particular piece of furniture, place the new scratcher adjacent to that furniture.
- Use Catnip to Lure Your Cat
About one-third of the cat population does not care about catnip, but the remainder will go crazy for this member of the mint family. Sprinkling dried catnip on the new scratcher will let your cat know that this is her scratcher. If you do not like the messiness of dried catnip, you can also find catnip sprays and stickers that will convey the same message.
Scratchers are a great way to appeal to your cat’s natural instincts, provide her with entertainment and exercise — and save your furniture in the process!