One of the most annoying and destructive habits that cats can have is to sharpen their claws on the furniture. Claw-sharpening is part of the repertoire of normal behavior, its purpose in the wild being to ensure that the claws are in good order for climbing and fighting if the occasion arises. It is the front ones that are sharpened, and the cat does this by standing or sitting on its hind legs and raking its extended claws down a suitable surface.
Claw-sharpening also helps to mark the cat’s territory and helps to impress and repel possible rivals.
It is necessary to be firm and possibly even tap the kitten with a rolled-up newspaper to correct this behavior when applied to the furniture. Alternatively, the kitten should be sternly told off, or a sudden noise made at the moment it starts to behave in this way.
The kitten should be provided with a scratching post on which it is allowed to use its claws. This can be purchased from a pet shop, or one can be made at home. It consists of a firmly anchored upright post, usually set in a broad, square or rectangular base, and covered with some suitable material, such as carpet, rope, sacking, or canvas.
Alternatively, a log, branch, or fence post nailed to a suitable base can be provided if the cat’s owners do not object to having this in the house. Each time the kitten makes any attempt to claw the furniture, it should be firmly rebuked and then removed to the post and its front paws placed on this to learn to use it instead.
It is also a good idea to play games with the kitten, getting it to chase a piece of paper tied to a string around the scratching post. In this way, it will dig, claws to post and be encouraged to use that rather than the furniture for this natural aspect of feline behavior.
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