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C2004-49

Dear Christopher Cat

My cat Simba sharpens his claws on the couch. How can I get him to use his scratching post instead?

Christopher Responds

I ruined an easy chair before Mom figured out that I preferred it to the little scratching post that fell over when I clawed it.

I wanted something that would stay put -– like an easy chair -– so she finally bought me a kitty condo, complete with carpeted areas, bare wood and posts wound with sisal.

She made it tantalizing by sprinkling it with catnip and flicking my favorite feather toys around it.

You should think about something similar, or at the very least, provide Simba with multiple scratching posts, preferably at least three feet high. Situate some vertically and others horizontally.

They should be stable, because we cats don’t trust posts that move. They can be constructed of burlap, cardboard or the materials on my kitty condo.

When you see Simba scratching the couch, take him to the nearest scratching post. Don’t punish him, or he’ll fear you -– and claw the couch when you’re not around.

Consider protecting the scratched area of couch with double-sided tape, aluminum foil or heavy plastic until Simba learns to use the new scratching posts.

An alternative is to trim Simba’s claws or use nail caps to minimize damage to your couch. To read the columns that address these options, visit the Web site's cat index (on the left, click on Cats) and then click on Claws.

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