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Preserve the furniture and the Cat

Scratching Manners

Health and Personality

What's included with your kitten



Maine Coons are highly intelligent & can be trained to use a cat tree !!!
It takes love, time, care and just a little patience.

Encourage appropriate scratching

  • As a diversion, attach bubble wrap, tin foil, slippery wax paper, or double-sided sticky tape to the object your kitty scratches.
  • Smear citrus-scented liquid or commercial cat repellant on the item your cat likes to scratch.
  • Provide a scratching post or other appropriate scratching surfaces in every room of your house.
  • Carpet-covered posts, wicker baskets or hampers, sisal-covered posts, or even scratching boxes made of cardboard make good scratching surfaces.
  • Vertical scratching posts should be sturdy and high enough for your cat to stretch out when scratching.  Place the scratching post near the inappropriate item your cat prefers to scratch.
  • When your cat scratches an item that is off-limits, gently carry her to the nearest scratching post and remind her to scratch it by making scratching motions with her claws.
  • Praise your cat when she scratches where she should and interrupt her when she scratches elsewhere. A squirt from a squirt bottle of water may provide negative reinforcement when she scratches in the wrong place.  Or make a noise, such as clapping your hands, or using a shake can or jar filled with a few pebbles or coins.
  • If your cat isn't interested in the scratching surfaces you provide him, sprinkle or spray the surfaces with catnip to entice his interest. Do this on a weekly basis to keep kitty interested.
  • A cat's front claws should be clipped every week or two. Trimming the back claws is rarely necessary. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to correctly clip your cat's claws/nails.
  • Getting your cat accustomed to having his or her paws handled is a must prior to initiating nail trimming. Start preparing your kitten or cat for nail trimming sessions by lightly stroking her paws and gently separating her toes so that the claw is visible.  Do this on a regular basis until she is comfortable enough with the process to allow you to trim her claws.  Trim just enough to make the claws blunt, but not so short that you cut into the quick.


Preserve the Furniture and the Cat!

Scratching is a natural instinct; even de-clawed cats try to scratch. You cannot teach a cat not to scratch, but you can provide an
appropriate place for it to scratch.  Like most learning processes, this requires a little time on the part of the teacher and some
necessary supplies.

Get a scratching post that your cat likes. Scratching posts are available covered with a number of different materials and different cats prefer different substances. Scratching posts come covered with carpet, sisal rope, and wood. There are also flat scratching surfaces covered with corrugated cardboard that some cats like. Offer your cat small samples and see which he/she likes scratching on the most.

Then get a nice, stable scratching post.  If the post falls over or moves when the cat tries to scratch, the cat is not going to be able to stretch and enjoy scratching and will probably prefer your couch.  If you are creative, you can even make your own scratching post from wood and carpet fragments. Some people recommend attaching carpet to the post backward, claiming that the underside of the carpet offers a better scratching surface. Ask your cat before nailing it on. They also sell sisal rope in hardware stores.

Scratching posts with sisal rope; whether bought or hand made; usually cost a little more than straight carpet posts, but they last longer than carpet and provide a substance different than the carpet on your floor for your cat to scratch on. 

Position the scratching post in a prominent position in a well-used room so that the cat is going to like being there.

Sprinkling catnip on the scratching post can help start the cat playing and scratching on the post. Playing with toys on or near the post may also help.  During the first few weeks when you see your cat start to scratch on something other than the scratching post, say "No" firmly and carry your cat to the post.

Putting his paws on the scratchable surface sometimes will start him scratching.  Don't fight him, though.  Whenever he does scratch in the right place, praise him lavishly. After a few weeks when your cat has scratched on the scratching post enough so that you think he realizes that this is good behavior, start punishing him whenever he scratches something unacceptable.

Saying "No" works with some cats.  Most cats, however, respond a lot better to a squirt bottle. Fill the squirt bottle with water, adjust the beam to "stream" and when the cat scratches on the couch, squirt him. If does not hurt the cat at all, but it gets the message across. Most cats, after being squirted a few times, will learn to respond to "No" when accompanied by merely picking up the squirt bottle and aiming.

If you are persistent and patient with punishment and offer an attractive scratching option, your cat will learn good scratching manners.

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Additional Suggestions for Teaching Good Scratching Manners

If you are still having problems:  Try offering the cat a different substance to scratch on. Maybe he doesn't like carpet or wood.  Make sure that the post is stable and not inclined to fall down and scare the cat or move when the cat tries scratching on it.

Reposition the post.  Cats usually like to be in the middle of things. A post in a corner may look nice to you, but the cat may be inclined to overlook it. If your cat uses the scratching post when he is in the same room but is too lazy to go to that room when he is in the other half of the house, get another scratching post.,  If your scratching lessons are failing because your cat can scratch away at the couch when you are not home and is only punished when you are home watching him, take steps to make the furniture less desirable to your cat. Pet stores sell cat-deterrent sprays that you can spray on particularly scratchable corners of your couch.

Contact paper sticky side up can also be used to make corners unattractive to cats. You can even try covering your whole couch with a
sheet, plastic, or another surface that protects the couch while making it less desirable to scratch on.  (Cats will seldom scratch on a couch draped in a simple cotton sheet.) These measures need only be adopted temporarily for the next few months it takes to break your cat of its bad habit and learn to use its scratching post.

To minimize damages while teaching your cat good scratching manners:  Trim your cat's nails. You can buy a pair of cat nail trimmers in almost any pet store and learn to trim your cat's nails so that they are blunt and less capable of doing damage.  You can take off the thin, clear tip, but avoid the thicker, opaque base as that holds the blood and nerve supply to the nail.  Trimming too far is relatively hard to do on cats, but be careful anyway.  Cutting the "quick" hurts and bleeds. Most cats don't like their feet being handled and restrained, so try doing this while your cat is asleep. You can usually get through a few nails before the cat wakes up enough to object. You will need to trim nails every few weeks to a month, depending on how fast your cat's nails grow.

Avoid rough play games in which you are directly roughhousing with your cat if you wish to avoid being scratched and chewed on. Most kittens go through a phase (usually between 4 and 10 months of age) in which they love chewing and kicking your hands, legs, and anything else that moves. If this play becomes too rough for you or anyone else in the household, you need to stop playing with your kitten in that way completely.

Anytime your kitten starts chewing or attacking you, back off and end the game completely. Next time your cat approaches you to play, offer a toy instead of your hand. It may take a few weeks, but the kitten will learn. Also, be patient. Even the most rambunctious kittens grow up eventually.  Keep your cat's nails trimmed. They hurt a lot less when they are blunt.

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Articles on Early Spay/Neuter

Here is an excellent site about early spay and neutering:

http://CFA Health Committee - Early Spay/Neuter in the Cat

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