Thanks a lot, internet ads. It’s hard to espouse a single-action fix now because it sounds so hokey.
But seriously, I managed to get my cat to stop scratching my couch by doing, literally, one thing.
This one thing after a string of failed one things, of course, but if you keep looking for something after you’ve found it, things wouldn’t be in the last place you looked.
I’ve had this cat, Echo, for years. She’s been a real fixer-upper of a cat. Lots of bad habits, lots of strange behaviour. My husband and I have worked patiently and gently with her, and she’s turning into a lovely little kitty.
One thing she just hasn’t been able to get, is do not scratch the couch. Or this chair. Or anything that is not your scratching post.
Her thought patterns were this:
Can I scratch this? —-> Do I want to scratch it? —-> Scratch it!
But no no no, I have only just now, in the past week, realized that this is wrong.
I tried all the solutions of course. Cat treats (she has a messed up stomach, and won’t touch anything that isn’t her brand of dry cat food. Right? What kind of cat doesn’t like cat treats!), three different kinds of scratching posts, natural wood, changing locations and heights, cat nip, tin-foil deterrent (seriously, our home started to look like bad sci-fi from the 70’s; half of the surfaces from the hip down were covered in tin foil).
ETC ETC ETC.
Basically nothing worked.
Until I had (another) go at reading up on cat psychology.
I read a passing remark about how cats are territorial, and that scratching is an act of claiming something for oneself.
*Palm smack on forehead here*
Because what had I been doing was stopping her when she scratched something ‘bad’ and moving her to her scratching post. Sometimes I would scratch it to show her.
Basically, I was claiming her scratching post as MINE all the time.
The ONE thing I changed was this: I scratch everything she’s not allowed to scratch.
It started simply; stopping her from scratching the couch, and then myself scratching the couch, while maintaining eye contact and saying firmly “This is mine.” over and over again. I swear I’m not crazy. Know how I know? Because in ONE day, she began scratching her scratching post, and only her scratching post.
I don’t ever touch her scratching post. That’s hers. But I make a show of scratching the things “that are mine” so she knows not to scratch them.
Hahaha, as I am penning this, she just had a go of scratching my computer chair, so we’re not 100% there yet, but I did the thing, scratching it myself, and now she’s sleeping on it across the living room. I think she wants the chair as her own and that was a go at ‘claiming’ it. This will be ongoing, but we’ve had a breakthrough, for sure.
She has nice, good, long scratches at her post. She’s done this most when other people are in our home, and I seem ultra-crazy at how happy I am that she’s doing it.
“OH YOU GUYS SH SH LOOK look at her scratching her post! Isn’t it wonderful! Oh Echo you are the best kitty in the world!” Haha and then she’ll scratch it later and be like “I am the best kitty in the world, look at this awesome thing that only I am allowed to scratch.”
OK but seriously, I am super happy.
If you’ve tried everything and nothing is working, try scratching your things. Don’t touch the kitty’s scratch-thing, but make a show of scratching your furniture. Be calm and stern, and be consistent. I would say ignore them when they scratch their post, or coo at them softly if they like that sort of thing and it doesn’t disrupt them.
I hope it works as well for you as it did for me!
Writing is going well. Writing retreat coming up for the first two weeks of February.
Until next time, dear readers, thanks for stopping by.