Your Pet Question:
How do I get my kitten to stop clawing up the couch? She has a scratching post that she never goes near and I have tried just about everything!
Donna Cleveland, Halifax, NS
The Expert Says:
It’s important to understand that cats scratch mainly as a way to communicate. While scratching does keep their nails sharp, it also leaves their scent and visual mark which says to the world ‘I live here!’ They do this in high traffic areas on purpose and typically folks hide scratching posts out of view. To encourage your kitten to use the scratching post, place it where everyone frequents, then hold her paws and ‘scratch’ the post with them to leave the scent. Sometimes the height of the post also makes a difference; some cats prefer to stretch all the way up to use it. You can also ask your vet for special sprays to make the post more appealing. Frequent nail trimming also limits damage to furniture. Once your cat knows that it’s okay to use the post (and preferable to using the couch) you can move it out of view. The important thing to remember is that your kitten is not doing this to annoy you; she’s just telling the world that what is yours… is hers!
Dr. Kent Morley is a veterinarian at Properties Animal Clinic, Calgary, Alberta.