Dear Dr. Baum —
Our cat is an expert scratcher. Not only does she scratch her scratching post, but she also attacks the couches, oriental rug, wall, closet mirror/doors and kitchen cabinets. We don’t believe in declawing her, but we do feel that there has got to be a way to solve this problem — she’s wrecking the furniture and waking us up at least twice a night!
I’ve heard of Feliway — do you recommend that product? Any other suggestions?
Beverly Hills, CA
(You already provide wonderful care to our cat, Bean). Thank you!
You need to provide alternatives for your cat. You will find that it is easier to guide a behavior than it is to stop one. Your cat’s desire to scratch things is normal — it just needs to be channeled to the “proper” things. Cats are naturally curious. Bring things from the outside into your home. Logs and branches make excellent scratching fare. Rotating new things in and out is also a good idea as you continuously offer new objects to explore. A good way to discourage scratching at specific objects involves the use of small balloons. Put some water in the balloons and then blow them up. Tape them to the objects that you don’t want scratched. As the cat explores these objects and eventually scratches them, the balloons will pop loudly and spray the cat with their contents. This should negatively reinforce this behavior and the cat will seek less confrontational areas.
I have not found Feliway to be of help in these situations.