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Here's a great article helping your adult cat or kitten to develop good scratching habits – good for them and good for you!

General Cat Care #1: Before You Bring Your Cat Home
You will need food, food dish, water bowl, interactive toys, brush, comb, safety cat collar, scratching post, litter and litter box.
General Cat Care #2: Feeding
An adult cat should be fed one large or two smaller meals each day. Kittens from 6 to 12 weeks need to be fed four times a day. Kittens from three to six months need to be fed three times a day. You can either feed specific meals, throwing away any leftover canned food after 30 minutes or free-feed dry food (keeping food out all the time).

Feed your cat a high-quality, brand-name kitten or cat food (avoid generic brands) two to three times a day. Kittens can be fed human baby food for a short time if they won’t eat kitten food softened by soaking in warm water. Use turkey or chicken baby food made for children six months and older. Gradually mix with cat food. Cow’s milk is not necessary and can cause diarrhea in kittens and cats. Provide fresh, clean water at all times. Wash and refill water bowls daily.

The method is the same for any kitten/adult cat…have some fun with the process and bond with your special kitten/cat!

Place their sisal scratching post/furniture in an area they use the most; near their favorite sleeping place, or places they most like to rest and play are good spots.

DO NOT put their paws on the scratching post and force them to scratch; that will only confuse them. (Kittens are born knowing how to scratch; restraining your kitten/cat and then dragging their paws over the scratching post may be very unpleasant and may actually cause them to avoid the post.)

Imitate scratching by using your own fingers on the scratching post (scratching up and down the post to stimulate them to scratch); this often gives them the “right” idea about what they're supposed to do.

DO encourage scratching on the post by playing with dangle-toys on or near the scratching post/furniture; dangle a peacock feather or any other enticing toy right next to the scratching post/furniture (or slowly drag it up the post) and as they go for the toy/feather and dig into the post, they'll feel its irresistible texture. If that doesn't work, you might try placing the scratching post/furniture on its side and enticing kitty by dangling the toy/feather all around it. As they jump on the post or paw at the toy/feather, they'll discover the texture, and they may begin to scratch it at that point. Put the scratching post/furniture upright once kitty knows what it's all about.

General Cat Care #3: Grooming
Most cats stay relatively clean and rarely need a bath, but they do need to be brushed or combed. Frequent brushing helps keep your cat’s coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs
General Cat Care #4: Handling
To pick up your cat, place one hand behind the front legs and another under the hindquarters. Lift gently. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck (behind the ears) or by the front legs without supporting the rear end.
General Cat Care #5: Housing
Cats should have a clean, dry place of their own in the house. Line your cat’s bed with a soft, warm blanket or towel. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Please keep your cat indoors. If your companion animal is allowed outside, he can contract diseases, get ticks or parasites, become lost or get hit by a car, hurt in a fight or poisoned. Also, cats prey on wildlife.

Cat furniture – especially the sisal scratching posts – may be scented with catnip or catnip spray but don't overdo it, once a week is enough while training them to use it, then periodically as a treat after that (it's easy for kittens to develop a resistance to the effects of catnip when they are exposed to it at a young age, so wait on that or use it sparingly with kittens). Use praise (lots of it) and food rewards when they scratch the post, so they associate the scratching post with a pleasant response.

Put their favorite food treats on some of the platforms to entice them to climb to higher levels.

Coax them over to the scratching post/furniture after their nap (most cats scratch immediately from waking while performing stretching exercises) and scratch the post with your fingers at a high point on the scratching post/furniture. Again, praise them profusely if they make scratching motions.

If they refuse to use the scratching post/furniture, try again later. NEVER force them to use it, as they may then associate it with something unpleasant. Remember, cats have a mind of their own and do not like being forced into anything. Be patient yet persistent when teaching your cats these new habits and eventually it will pay off. Imagine…scratch-free furnishings and a happier co-existence with your pet, it's a win-win situation.

You'll be able to tell if kitty is using the scratching post/furniture when you notice small, crescent-shaped nail sheaths at the base of the post(s).

General Cat Care #6: Identification
If allowed outdoors (again, we caution against it!), your cat needs to wear a safety collar and an ID tag. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on something. An ID tag or an implanted microchip can help insure that your cat is returned if he or she becomes lost.
General Cat Care #7: Litter Box
All indoor cats need a litter box, which should be placed in a quiet, accessible location. A bathroom or utility room is a good place for your cat’s box. In a multi-level home, one box per floor is recommended. Avoid moving the box unless absolutely necessary. Then do so slowly, a few inches a day. Cats won’t use a messy, SMELLY litter box. Scoop solids out of the box at least once a day. Dump everything, wash with a mild detergent (don’t use ammonia) and refill at least once a week, less frequently if using clumping litter. Don’t use deodorants or scents in the litter or litter box (especially avoid lemon scent).
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