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Is your cat still scratching your furniture no matter what you do? Carole Wilbourn, perhaps the country's only 'cat therapist', puts your scratching cat on the couch and offers solutions to stop the shredding today!

Cat Scratching Your Furniture?
Stop The Shred-Fest Today!

By Carole Wilbourn, The Cat Therapist

Breezy the cat

"But he scratches his post and everything else!" Donna, one of my clients, said of her cat Breezy. This is a common refrain from the guardians of cats I treat in my practice. Donna did not want a second cat, she worked at home and she wanted to upgrade Breezy's quality of life, so she had me pay a house call to Breezy to start him on a program to encourage him to respect her furnishings and hear my suggestions for inspirational toys.

Declawing was not an option. "I have friends with declawed cat whose cats never had any post-op or residual problems but then there are others...," Donna said, trailing off. I looked at Breezy's post. It was covered with a plush carpet. I told Donna that most cats preferred a scratchy surface, one that they could dig their nails into and that would also provide more of a workout. A post made of sisal or rope was usually the preferred surface. Karate Kat at 800-822-6628, makes a sturdy sisal post for about $70. It can also be purchased at or ordered by your local pet store.

Because Breezy also likes to scratch horizontally, as he did on her sofa and carpet, I suggested she purchase a catnip-scented sisal scratch mat or cardboard. The Karate Post, for example, is lined with catnip; I told Donna to sprinkle the post with fresh catnip once or twice a week. Some cats don't take to catnip, but Breezy inhaled the nip even as I sprinkled some on tissue paper. Seeing this, I gave Donna some extra nip and told her to call me to arrange to purchase an abundant supply.

I also told Donna to praise Breezy whenever he scratched his posts and to shout a sharp, piercing NO when he scratched her furnishings. (She admitted that she wasn't always consistent with her reprimands.) I suggested she cover the couch with a bedspread or other covering so it wouldn't be tempting.

Additionally, Donna wanted to take Breezy outdoors, mentioning she'd seen a dog in a stroller. She wondered if Breezy would take to such a stroll. I told her that there was a stroller made by Kittywalk that Breezy might enjoy. This is another product that can be found at many pet stores or ordered by your pet professional if you ask for it. Click on to for more details.

Let The Cat Into The Bag

Donna also needed some inspirational toys for her active cat. There were a couple of toys Breezy liked but his favorite was a tin foil ball. He chased it everywhere and even retrieved it when he wanted continuous, intensive attention. A couple of my suggestions for Donna and Breezy, and for any cat owners who want to make their cat's environment more stimulating:

  • Line up a few paper shopping bags on the floor. Stick some tissue paper inside the bags and sprinkle with catnip. Your cat can then use them as a "hideaway" when he or she wants privacy. (He could even be offered food when he's in "bag mode"--he might enjoy his very own dining bag!) Remember to snip off any shopping bag handles. Many a cat has caught his head in the handles and ran around terrified until his guardian released him. When the bags become shabby, you can provide a new set, but remember to stick in some of the used tissue paper from the previous bag so they smell and feel familiar.
  • Place a ladder along a wall so your cat can climb on high perches when he or she wants a change of scenery or wants to feel like the King or Queen of his or her domain. This appealed to Donna. "Breezy loves to look down on things. It gives him a sense of power." This should also appeal to any agile and energetic cat.
By the end of his session, Breezy was stretched out on the rug, purring. "He certainly enjoyed this concentrated attention," Donna said, as she reached over and stroked his head.

Carole recently helped in the effort to get Molly the cat out of the wall of a New York City deli! Hopefully your problem isn't that serious-if so, call 911 immediately. But if you have other cat questions for Carole visit her website at or call her at 212-496-7574 to ask about her in-person and on-the-phone consultation rates. You can also try writing her right here through the New York Tails at

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Most recent update: 6/30/06
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