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    Scratching Here, There, and Everywhere

    Scratching Here, There, and Everywhere

    It's important to remember that scratching is a very normal activity. Cats have scent glands on the underside of their front paws. So, as they scratch, they are in fact marking a particular item in your home with their own scent. They usually choose your favorite chair because they are attracted by your scent. Furthermore, the physical act of scratching helps to strip off old claw sheaths, sharpen the new ones, and stretch the muscles and tendons in their legs. Cats also scratch to release energy, when they are conflicted, when they are playing, and when they are stretching.It is very easy to redirect scratching to acceptable scratching zones such as a scratching post. Because some cats scratch horizontally and others vertically, be sure to provide both kinds of scratchers and place them in different rooms around the home. Look for tall posts so that your cat can get a good stretch. Both sisal and recycled cardboard are excellent scratching materials. The latest designs even include real tree branches. Try to avoid carpeting because some cats have trouble differentiating between the carpet surface on a post and your priceless Oriental rug. Because cats usually awake from a catnap and stretch, it's a good idea to have a post or scratch pad close to their favorite snoozing places.

    A spray water bottle or a can of compressed air are also excellent remote training devices to keep cats away from areas where they are not permitted to scratch. Eventually, a cat will react simply on sight of the bottle or can and learn that the area is out of bounds. Special sticky sheets are another useful household item to redirect scratching elsewhere. Keeping nails regularly trimmed will also help. Another option is to apply special nail caps called Soft Paws. They are designed to prevent cats from damaging things by scratching and are a safe alternative to declawing. Cats also scratch out of boredom. Be sure your cat has plenty of toys. Such feline enrichment, as well as clicker training to teach your cats tricks, as described in the previous chapter, are excellent ways of giving your cat both the mental and physical stimulation she needs.

    ThunderShirt for Cats

    One way to lessen separation anxiety or stress is to put your cat in a ThunderShirt. This garment is based on the swaddling effect that mother's use to wrap small babies and is known to relieve anxiety and stress. Such a garment is particularly useful to de-stress trips to the vet's office. I have used it successfully with Ziggy, who now sings fewer "arias" in the car when we are traveling.

    Provide your cat with acceptable items to scratch, so she won't be forced to choose her own.

    From The Cat Bible, Copyright by Sandy Robins, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with I-5 Press

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