Scratch the furniture?

Cats scratch for a number of reasons, both physical and mental.  Physically, it helps them stretch their muscles and keeps their claws trimmed.  Cats’ paws contain scent glands, which are deposited when they scratch.  This is the cat’s way of marking territory (letting other cats know this is THEIR sofa!), and also (ironically) a way for them to bond with you.  They will often scratch places you tend to frequent most often (the sofa, the bed…); they are mixing their scent with yours to create a unique family smell signature.  Whilst this knowledge makes their scratching your furniture a little less annoying, it’s far from ideal.  The best way to stop this is to place a scratching post (the taller, the better, and it must be steady and stable) next to the object they gravitate towards to scratch, in order to redirect this natural behaviour towards a more appropriate target.  You can try draping material over the furniture item, or placing a plastic anti-scratch cover on it whilst your cat gets used to the new scratching post.

Cat scratching stool
Cat Spraying
pic courtesy of Feliway.com

Spray in the house?

Cats spray urine to mark territory, and all cats do this, male and female, neutered and intact.  If your cat is spraying urine in your house, it is most often a sign that they are territorially insecure, and spraying acts as a way for them to assert their presence and make themselves feel safer and more at home.  Obviously, this is undesirable behaviour to say the least from a human perspective, however, so what can be done to stop it?  Firstly, never punish your cat for this (or any other) behaviour. Cats do not respond well to punishment, will be confused and made anxious by your shouting at them, and it will damage your relationship with the cat.  Instead, try to work out why the cat is spraying.  Have you recently moved house?  Have you got a new pet, or baby?  The best way to ensure your cat feels secure in his or her environment is to make sure there are plenty of “their” things around.  Scratching posts and litter trays readily take on the cat’s scent, and will make him or her feel more comfortable in their surroundings.  Take a note of where the cat is spraying – if it is always in the same place, or room, there is something about that specific location which is causing the cat stress.  If they are spraying near the door, for example, there may be a cat outside who is bothering them. 

You could also consider a pheromonal spray or diffuser, such as Feliway, which has been shown to help cats relax and help give them a sense of ownership.  

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