Ask Amy: How Do I Teach Cat Claw Etiquette?

Seren "owns" this old chair.

Seren “owns” this old chair. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Will you welcome a new purr-fect cuddly kitten into your life this holiday season? One of the most common questions I get as a cat behavior consultant is, “How can I stop my cat from clawing the furniture?”

Well…you won’t stop the clawing, but you can redirect to a “legal” target. Today’s Ask Amy has some tips. What other techniques have worked for your fur-kids? Please share!

And for all the must-knows on kitten care, check out my Complete Kitten Care book (or “gift” it to someone who needs help with their new kitten!).

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter.


Ask Amy: How Do I Teach Cat Claw Etiquette? — 9 Comments

  1. Feliway is an effective way to stop clawing, but you have to use it when you acquire your new kitten (or acquire new furniture). Simply spray your furniture (or whatever you don’t want clawed) with Feliway spray for the first 30 days or so. Make sure you have plenty of scratching posts too.

    • Hi Anne, you’re right that Feliway can work well with some cats, because kitties don’t tend to claw where they’ve already cheek-marked (and Feliway mimics that cheek rub pheromone). Yes, it’s key to have a “legal” outlet, too. Great tip, thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Amy,

    Loved your kitten care book and all the wonderful tips. Our new kitten likes scratching, too. We have the advantage of having a lot of extra ropes around that we string up here and there. That helps the scratching, but those kittens like to wrestle, too. What I found which makes a good ‘legal’ wrestling tool without encountering those sharp teeth is a towel and stuffed animals. Has worked for two kittens so far. Whenever they want to start biting, we re-direct to the towel or a stuff animal. I think it mimics playing with siblings.

    • Hi Nancy, thanks so much, delighted the kitten book was a help. I’ve recommended using stuffed animals before as legal targets, but using the towel is inspired! What a great idea, thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi Amy! Good tips on cat scratching. Although my current babies are de-clawed (not by me, I adopted them after they were rescued outside! And don’t get me on my anti-de-claw soap box! My babies can’t walk properly because of this inhumane treatment.) but I digress. What has worked for me in the past is the sheet on the couch, secured by the couch legs and a couple of books so kitty can’t get underneath, plus the Feliway or other similar spray on the sheet. Then, catnip on the scratch object. This is followed by a “scratching lesson” (move paws appropriately), on the scratch post followed by a treat. The next time you see kitty on the scratch post, praise and treat. Illegal objects, put a sheet over them temporarily as they occur, redirect, praise and treat. I find that occasional refreshing the catnip in the “legal” places helps as well.

    • Excellent program. See, that wouldn’t work with Seren when she was a kitten, though, because she liked to get on her back and claw the UNDERSIDE of furniture, LOL! Using a laser light she loved to chase got her to target the right objects, and then the clawing itself is self rewarding (along with the praise). I like to “catch them in the act” of doing something right, and rewarding the good behavior.

      • I’ve sprayed the underside of my furniture. Seren would have hated me. LOL! I’ve also made protective book piles, draped sheets from the box spring and held them down with books etc. I redirected that cat by playing with him while he was on his back. (This was BLL – before lazer lights.) I also used feathered wand toys.

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