Behaviour modification

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Give your cat a manicure, it’s best to start when it’s a kitten. Take your cat to a proffesional groomer or do it yourself. Get your cat accustomed to having you touch its paws. You will need to have a good source of light and you will want to be able to gently, but firmly, control your cat. Only trim the very tip of the cat’s nail. Scratching and stretching are a natural part of being a cat. You cannot punish your cat for scratching with his claws, however you can provide your cat with a place to scratch that is acceptable for both you and your cat which will re-enforce desirable behaviour. Here are some examples:

  • Either purchase a scratching post or build your own using carpet samples and wood.
  • Get a chunk of log – cats love this since it feels just they’re scratching on a tree!
  • If you have several cats in your household, be sure to provide several scratching areas.

Cats mark their territory when they scratch: they actually release small amounts of oil or a “scent” from glands located under each claw. Therefore, it is very important to teach your cat early on where he can and cannot scratch. Once an item is marked, the cat will prefer to return and scratch there again. If you can train your cat to mark his scratching post, he will use it over and over again! Aversion therapy is very effective, keep a squirt bottle filled with water near areas you don’t want the cat to scratch. When he approaches and starts to scratch on a “forbidden” object, startle him by squirting water on his back (never his face!). Then, simply pick the cat up and take him to his scratching post. Start to play with the cat by dragging a string on the post. When he scratches the post, give lots of positive reinforcement, praise and show excitement – your cat will love the attention and repeat this to get more attention.

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Be consistent don’t permit undesirable behavior “sometimes”. Be clear what you will and will not allow and ensure that everyone in the household (including your cat) knows, and follows, the same rules. Behavior modification techniques are very powerful and will work if used correctly.


  1. Online site Ambys Declawing cats: Issues and Alternatives
  2. Online site Humane Society of Delaware County:

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Behaviour modification. (2018, Jun 21). Retrieved from