How to Stop Your Cat from Scratching Your Furniture
7 October, 2014
Our cats love to scratch anything and everything. Scratching is a normal, instinctive behavior that you don’t want to discourage altogether. However, you do want to have your kitties scratch the appropriate item such as a scratchpad or post and not your furniture. Since declawing is not an option (and inhumane), there are other ways for you to keep your cat’s nails intact and have your furniture in shape.
The reason cats scratch is to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, mark their territory by leaving both a visual mark and a scent and to stretch their bodies and flex their feet and claws.
Therefore, it is important to figure out how to get your kitty to scratch the correct, acceptable objects.
Try to figure out when and what your cat is scratching
Watch your kitties’ patterns and try to figure out when they scratch and what they are attracted to claw. Most cats like a textured surface or anything they can really sink their claws into; yet, each cat is different. Some cats scratch as they stand up against a vertical surface; others like to scratch on all fours and stick their butts up in the air for a good stretch. Some cats enjoy both ways.
I love my scratching post!
Try to figure out when they scratch…after they wake up from a nap, when they want to mark their territory, or when they’re excited about something, like you coming home from work. If you figure out when, you can redirect their behavior with a toy or to the appropriate scratching post.
Use harmless covers for the objects that your cat likes to scratch
There are many quick fixes that you can do at home to keep your cats away from your couches, bedsprings or whatever they like to scratch. Cats like texture so cover the areas where you don’t want your cats to scratch with things they will find unappealing on their paws, such as double-sided sticky tape, aluminum foil, sheets of sandpaper or a plastic carpet runner with the pointy side up. Many cats don’t like the odor of citrus or menthol so you can even put that smell on the above to double the effect.
Cats love scratching pads and rope
A sturdy rope-covered upright post, a flat scratch pad of corrugated cardboard, the back side of a square of carpet are all different post and pads that your cat will like. A scratching object can be free-standing, lie on the floor, or hang from a doorknob, whatever your cat desires. Rub a little catnip into the post or attach a toy to the top to make it even more attractive.
Once you find the best post for your cat, spread the love
It’s a really good idea to have more than one scratching post, especially if you have upstairs and downstairs areas, your house is large, or you have more than one cat. This will lessen the possibility that your cat will resort to furniture in other rooms without scratching posts and if you have multiple cats, one won’t have to use a scratching post, and the other scratches the furniture.
Place the posts in your cats’ favorite scratching places
Watch for which pieces of furniture your kitty has clawed and their locations. If it is always the chair you sit in most, locate a scratching post near it and maybe leave a piece of your laundry on the top for a while or use its top tray as a drop spot for personal items so that your cat sees it as part of your territorial marker, like your favorite chair.
Cat trees are a great way to give your cats their own ‘homes’ where they can scratch and sit. Once your cat gets used to the new alternates, he or she will gravitate towards it.
Never yell at your cat for inappropriate behavior.
Scolding your cat only works if you catch her your kitty in the act of scratching. If you correct your cat after the fact, she won’t know what she’s done wrong and could learn to be afraid of you. Never hit your cat or yell at him or her; a simple “no” will do. If you do catch your cat shredding a “naughty spot,” interrupt your cat by making a loud noise (clap your hands, shake a can of pennies or pebbles, slap the wall) and redirect her scratching to one of the acceptable items. Do this consistently to teach her that your furniture is bad, your scratching post is good! And praise your cat with a nice rub down.
Trim your cat’s claws every few weeks
Indoor cats don’t wear down their claws as quickly as outdoors ones do, so they can overgrow. Untrimmed, claws can grow into the cat’s pads, leading to infection, pain, and difficulty walking and using the litter box. Check your cat’s claws every couple of weeks to see if they need to be clipped. If it is too hard for you to clip them, a groomer can help. And, of course, the shorter the claws, the less likely they will scratch your furniture to get rid of their claws.