Animal island

Owner’s claws out over kitty’s failure to use scratching post



Q: We have a 6-month-old kitten and we are keeping him as an indoor cat. We do not want to declaw him if at all possible. However, we got him two scratching posts, and he refuses to use them. Instead, he uses the back of our couch and our carpeted stairs to sharpen his claws. We put catnip on the scratching posts, and we take him and rub his paws on them up and down so he gets the idea, but he just does not seem to understand. How can we get him to use the scratching posts?

A:Cats do not accept our word or assurances for anything, so you showing him the posts and trying to persuade him to use them are only wasting your time and annoying the cat.

Everything a cat does has to be through its own choice or decision. So your job is for the cat to discover that the scratching posts are the best place in the world to use his claws on. To do that, the posts need to compete with the couch and the stairs as a great scratching area.

First of all, the scratching posts need to be very large and strong enough for the cat to lean on without tilting them over. Most scratching posts are just too small and not secure enough for the cat. Those big carpeted cat trees or jungle gyms that have shelves and perches on them are great. From the cat’s point of view, they are much more comfortable than our furniture, and the pet chooses to work its claws on their carpeting. You need to make the back of the couch and the stairs less comfortable for the cat to use. Strips of double-sided tape will work well on the couch, and putting a plastic carpet runner over the stairs for a week or so will force the cat to look for another place to use. The alternative jungle gym should be nearby.

As soon as the cat is using the cat tree regularly, you can remove the tape and carpet runner because you’ve tricked the cat into making your idea its idea, and it will continue to use the cat tree as long as it is in good condition.

Q: We have been reading about the dog treats from China that have poisoned dogs, and we would like to know if there are any treats that are 100 percent safe. We have no idea what to buy anymore.

A: As far as treats go, the only ones you really know are not susceptible to human error are just cut-up fruits and vegetables — and dogs love them. The only ones that are bad for dogs are grapes and onions.

We give our dogs those little baby carrots and cut up apples, and they adore them. We keep them in a plastic container in the fridge, and as soon as we take it out and shake it, the dogs come running.

The dogs don’t care at all that the snack is a piece of carrot and not some manufactured thing that is designed to look like a piece of bacon.

They are just happy to get something to eat that they did not have five minutes before — and you can give your dog as many carrots and apples as it wants and not worry that it will get fat or suffer from human error in some factory somewhere.

Read more Lifestyle stories from the Miami Herald

 <span class="cutline_leadin">Bhindi masala: </span>Fried okra in a flavorful spice paste is a surefire way to fall in love with the misunderstood vegetable.


    No slime: Indian dish brings out the best of okra

    I am glad that no one ever forced stewed okra on me during my childhood, because the stories I’ve heard from stewed-okra veterans have been traumatizing. Friends and colleagues have described memories of okra that was sulfurous and slimy and yet left a cottony feeling on their tongues and gums. (This is no coincidence: The okra plant is related to the cotton plant.)



    Cats can pick up virus at vet’s, but they can also transmit it themselves

    Q: Our cats had to go to the vet hospital last week to have their teeth cleaned. The procedures went very well and, as predicted, both were back to normal that evening. Unfortunately, two days later they both started sneezing. First Patches and then Stumpy came down with the exact same cold. Patches got better but we had to take Stumpy back to the hospital. We actually had to pay more for his cold than for the teeth cleaning! Shouldn’t the vet have gone easy on us since our cats live safely indoors and they obviously caught the cold there?

 <span class="cutline_leadin">Layered Tomato-Watermelon Salad</span>


    7 new ways to build a 7-layer salad

    From fruits to pastas, novel ideas to liven it up the next time you layer it on.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category