Kitten Training 2

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A common concern among potential cat owners is how do I get my kitten to scratch at his scratching post and not the sofa? The answer is part persistence, and part cat psychology! Scratching is normal feline behavior, its part exercise and part “marking” behavior. Your cat stretches, has a nice vigorous scratch, and leaves the spot marked as “his”. It also helps to rid the claws of old, shedded layers, but doesn’t sharpen the claws, as many people believe.

Start young.
Start training while she is still a kitten, if possible. Scratching behavior begins about the time that your kitten is being weaned! Older cats can be trained too but may require longer, especially if they were not conditioned to using a scratching post before. Just be persistent, gentle but firm.

Choose a post that appeals to your cat.
Each kitten has his own preferences, and you may have to experiment a bit to figure out what this is. The standard vertical post should be tall enough for your cat to stretch his full length, and should be very solid. Your cat won’t use a wobbly post. Cats especially like to use carpet covered cat “furniture” with posts, barrels, and platforms, since these are large enough, solid, and offer a variety of surfaces to claw. They also nap and play on the furniture, helping to reinforce the idea that it is theirs.

Place the post where the kitten wants to use it.
This is essential – a post placed in the basement next to the litter box won’t get used. Kittens often like to stretch and scratch after a nap, so place the post wherever she likes to nap. We highly recommend placing several posts around the house, wherever your kitten likes to hang out, so a post is always within easy reach.

Use enticements and dissuasion.
You can help interest your kitten in his new scratching post by sprinkling or rubbing catnip on it, or by dangling a toy around for him to grab. Don’t forget to reward him for using it. Tell him what a good boy he is – he understands your tone of voice and the affectionate rub on his head. You can even reward him with treats.
When he starts to scratch on the sofa (or chair or bed), let him know that this is not allowed. Try using your voice to train your kitten. If you see inappropriate scratching, say in a loud, booming voice “NO!!”   This generally gets a startle response, which interrupts the scratching. Most kittens get the message pretty quickly.
Some people use a water spray bottle to discipline their kitten.  We would recommend trying the voice method first. Spraying a cat with water is rather harsh and can produce counter-productive behavior in your kitten.