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Whose House Is This, Anyway?

How to Win Territorial Battles With Your Cat


Win-win Solution

Anyone who has spent a bit of time around cats knows that they're pretty independent critters. Cats have certain ingrained needs and the only way to peacefully coexist with one is to understand those needs and adapt your surroundings to achieve a win-win situation for you and the feline in question. Going head-to-head with a stubborn cat can provide an unwelcome lesson in humility. The challenge, then, is to teach your cat that there are places certain activities are not allowed, and to show him where he isallowed to satisfy those essential needs.


Take clawing, for instance. Cats don't claw to be bratty or intentionally destructive. Their claws are an essential part of their defense system, and they need to scratch (furniture, trees, whatever) to loosen the sheaths on their claws to allow the fresh new (sharp) claw to emerge. To protect your furniture, you need to offer a more attractive clawing surface. Scratching posts are ideal for this, and when rubbed with a bit of catnip, are usually irresistible to cats. Sisal-wrapped posts are generally preferred by discriminating cats to the carpeted variety. A scratching post need not cost an arm and a leg. You can even build a pretty sturdy one yourself, or create one from a tree limb or log if you happen to have one.

Providing an irresistible substitute is the first step. Discouraging kitty from clawing your brocade furniture is next. There are a number of substances cats dislike intensely, and their odiferous presence on or near an object is a pretty good deterrant to a cat.

Top Aids to Deter Scratching

Whether your territorial issues with your cat arise over clawing, chewing house plants, or using your garden for an outdoor litter box, these substances used in combination or alone, can be the answer to your territorial battles with kitty.

Experiment with these:

  • Citrus
    Cats generally hate the scent of citrus. Try spraying a citrus-scented room freshener around your cat's favorite "scratching-chair," or coarsely chop citrus peel and sprinkle it just under the perimeter of the chair. It can also be used in the soil around potted plants if your cat tends to make salad from them.
  • Red Pepper Spray
    Never spray this on your cat. However, if kitty is using your flower bed for an outdoor litter box, you can spray the soil around the plants. Chances are, he'll avoid that area in the future.
  • Bitter Apple
    Doesn't the name alone make your mouth pucker? It's said to be a great deterrant to plant chewing.
  • Aluminum foil, plastic carpet protectors
    Cats avoid either the sound or the feeling of these on their feet. Strategically placed, they can discourage kitty from trespassing where he is not allowed. (The carpet protector is placed upside-down so the knobby area is on top.)
  • Commercial Preparations
    Many of these are more suitable for outdoors, and should be tested in an inconspicuous place before using in the house. You may find the odor objectionable in some of these.
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