Kittens, like our own human babies, do what’s instinctive. They eat when they’re hungry, sleep when they’re tired, they breathe and purr, and they also scratch. This instinct was used in the wild to mark territory and assert power, especially when threatened. And it also served the practical purpose of strengthening her paw muscles and removing the nail sheaths or the outer layer of their claw.
Your kitten doesn’t know that this instinct to scratch can’t be done on our mahogany stair post or our $5000 antique table. Here are tips on how to redirect your kitten’s scratching to a more acceptable outlet.
Kittens will usually scratch items near territorial areas (like where they eat, sleep or play), though more aggressive personalities will ‘mark’ areas throughout the home, such as windows, sofas and other furniture.
They can be trained, however, to limit their scratching to a scratching post or some part of the home that you’re willing to sacrifice. This is more time consuming than declawing, but it’s more humane. Declawing is painful and completely unnecessary.
The first step is to get your kitten a scratching post and then observing when she tends to scratch. This is usually right after eating or before sleeping. Place the scratching post near the areas where she scratches and then stand by when you know she’s about to do her business. Step in and lead her to the scratching post.
Then, remove any pleasure or satisfaction your kitten may get from scratching other surfaces by making them very smooth. You can cover the area with masking tape, plastic, or aluminum foil. These surfaces are slippery, sticky, or create an annoying noise when scratched. You can also squirt your kitten with water from a spray bottle each time she attempts to scratch anything.
If your kitten likes to scratch areas near the window, attach a loud alarm that will be triggered if she jumps on the curtains. A few rounds of these and your kitten will avoid going up that area altogether.