July 2008 Issue

Cat-Friendly Furniture

Some fabric and types of furniture are less appealing to felines than others. But it's still best to provide scratching alternatives.

Several years ago, my cat and I moved in with my grandmother, relieving some financial stress for me and allowing my grandmother to remain independent as her health declined. Her house was filled with beautiful antique furniture, and because I didnít think I had any other option, I had my cat declawed. She has adjusted to life without all ten of her third phalanges, but I wish that I had been better informed about other techniques available to discourage destructive scratching behavior. Not only are there easily implemented techniques that can help redirect the scratching instinct, but there are also fabrics and furniture designs that have little "cat appeal." "Regularly trimming nails is very helpful for limiting damage to furniture, " says EíLise Christensen, DVM, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist at NYC Veterinary Specialists in Manhattan. In addition to keeping your catís nails trimmed, it is important to establish approved scratching areas within your home. Dr. Christensen suggests initially using catnip and/or treats to attract your cat to approved scratching areas, and to be sure to reward desired behavior: "If you see the cat using the scratching post, reward with verbal praise, scratching or treats." (And remember that rewards are in the eye of the cat ó not the human!)

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