Here's a trick parents will like

It's one thing to teach your cat to do tricks. But here's a more practical application of cat-training principles: How to teach your cat not to sharpen its claws on the upholstered furniture.

The couch, for example. To keep your cat from shredding that piece of furniture, "you've got to booby-trap the couch," says Hollywood animal trainer Terri Dillistin.

Cover the scratch-prone areas of the couch with double-sided sticky tape (cats hate getting their paws stuck), bubble wrap, balloons, even balled-up aluminum foil.

Use anything that your cat would not want on its paws, or something that makes a creepy sound when the cat scratches it.

"Basically, your house will look pretty strange for a couple of weeks," Terri says. That trains your cat to avoid scratching the couch. But there's a second part to the training: How to get your cat to enjoy using the scratching post you bought. (Cats need something on which to sharpen and exercise their claws; it's instinctive.)

When you catch Pumpkin going after the furniture, pick him up and cart him over to the scratching post. Rub his front paws on the post, click the clicker, and give him a treat.

Take the bubble wrap off the couch after your cat gets the idea. By making the couch distasteful to your cat and making the scratching post attractive, your cat will get the idea: He can have a great time scratching where he's supposed to scratch. And not so much fun scratching where he isn't supposed to.

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