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My Cat Scratches or Chews Things

Scratching and jumping onto higher places are both behaviors that are necessary to a happy, healthy cat. The home you and your cat share will be a peaceful one when you’ve come to a mutual agreement about where cats can and can’t jump and what they can and can’t scratch or chew.

Keep Your Cat off Furniture and Counters

High places to climb and rest are important to cats—they allow cats to observe their surroundings from a safe place.To keep your cat from climbing onto places where you don’t want him, it’s important to provide places he’s welcome to climb.
 
It’s also essential that you make it clear where your cat should climb and where he shouldn’t. Once you can answer "yes" to all the questions below, you’ll be off to a good start.

Try a Deterrent
 
If none of the above techniques have kept your cat from jumping or sitting on a place where you don’t want her, put something there that will make that spot unpleasant. You can remove it once your cat has learned to avoid that place.
 
Deterrents are more effective than squirting your cat with water or making a loud noise. Those things only work when you’re around, and they don’t teach your cat what you want her to do. Try the deterrents listed below in any order:

  • Double-sided tape Cats avoid walking on sticky surfaces. Attach a tape such as Sticky Paws (sold at pet-supply stores) to metal, plastic, wood, leather, or fabric surfaces.
  • Bubble wrap This packing material with bubbles that pop is not something most cats want to walk on. Tape it onto the arms of chairs or counter tops or drape it over couches or beds.
  • Water Cats typically avoid jumping or stepping into water. Put aluminum trays filled with an inch of water on counter tops, tables, or any area you do not want the cat to go. (This option can cause a bit of a mess.)
  • Rubber nubs The rubber nubs that hold car mats and carpet runners in place are usually uncomfortable for cats to step on. Flip over a mat or runner and place it on a flat surface: counter top, table, bed, or couch.
  • Plastic shower curtains Generally, cats dislike stepping on smooth plastic. Drape a thick plastic shower curtain over couches, beds, or tables when you’re not using them.
  • Citrus The smell of citrus is unpleasant to most cats. Using citrus alone isn’t usually a strong deterrent, but adding lemon or lime juice (or a citrus spray carried by a pet-supply store) to any of the other materials will make them more powerful deterrents.

If you are still having issues after you have checked off everything on the list, please contact us at cats@humanesociety.org for more information, clarification, or advice.

  • It's important for cats to jump, climb, and relax above ground level, so they'll need an alternative to the kitchen counter. Mike McFarland/The HSUS

Teach Your Cat to Scratch Where You Want

Scratching is a natural and healthy thing for cats to do. (This is only one reason why declawing a cat is almost always the wrong choice) If you are going to stop your cat from scratching furniture or other things, you must provide things you want her to scratch, such as a scratching post. This checklist will help make sure your cat scratches only where appropriate. Check off each step as you go:

  • At least three feet high and sturdy. (Cats like to stretch when scratching, so the post shouldn’t move or fall down.)
  • • Made of sisal, a type of rope many cats enjoy scratching.
  • • Rub catnip on the post regularly.
  • • Play with him around the post—cats like to scratch while playing.
  • • Get on your hands and knees and scratch the post to show her how much fun it is. (Cats are excellent observers.)

Try a Deterrent
 
If none of the above techniques have kept your cat from jumping or sitting on a place where you don’t want her, put something there that will make that spot unpleasant. You can remove it once your cat has learned to avoid that place.
 
Deterrents are more effective than squirting your cat with water or making a loud noise. Those things only work when you’re around, and they don’t teach your cat what you want her to do. Try the deterrents listed below in any order:

  • Double-sided tape Cats avoid walking on sticky surfaces. Attach a tape such as Sticky Paws (sold at pet-supply stores) to metal, plastic, wood, leather, or fabric surfaces.
  • Bubble wrap This packing material with bubbles that pop is not something most cats want to walk on. Tape it onto the arms of chairs or counter tops or drape it over couches or beds.
  • Water Cats typically avoid jumping or stepping into water. Put aluminum trays filled with an inch of water on counter tops, tables, or any area you do not want the cat to go. (This option can cause a bit of a mess.)
  • Rubber nubs The rubber nubs that hold car mats and carpet runners in place are usually uncomfortable for cats to step on. Flip over a mat or runner and place it on a flat surface: counter top, table, bed, or couch.
  • Plastic shower curtains Generally, cats dislike stepping on smooth plastic. Drape a thick plastic shower curtain over couches, beds, or tables when you’re not using them.
  • Citrus The smell of citrus is unpleasant to most cats. Using citrus alone isn’t usually a strong deterrent, but adding lemon or lime juice (or a citrus spray carried by a pet-supply store) to any of the other materials will make them more powerful deterrents.

If you are still having issues after you have checked off everything on the list, please contact us at cats@humanesociety.org for more information, clarification, or advice.

  • Where's a good place for a scratching post? Next to the chair your cat loves to sink his claws into. Nancy Peterson/The HSUS

Stop Your Cat from Chewing Electrical Cords

Cats may chew electrical cords because they’re bored or stressed, or because they just enjoy the texture. Chewing electrical cords is dangerous! Take the steps below to stop this behavior. Check each step as you take it until the chewing has stopped.

If you are still having issues after you have checked off everything on the list, please contact us at cats@humanesociety.org for more information, clarification, or advice.

  • Some cats lick their lips over the chance to chew on electrical cords—protect them from a shocking injury. KC Theisen/The HSUS



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