Everyone loves their pet cat but one of a pet owner’s worst fears is a cat that scratches their furniture. One can can destroy a good couch in a matter of months. As a pet owner it is important to know how to stop a cat from scratching furniture.
Cats scratch for a number of reasons, first and foremost that it is their instinct. In the wild cats scratch to tell other cats that they were there. Scratching is a way to mark territory and communicate with other cats without having to actually see them. Cats also scratch to break up the dead outer layer of their claws and to keep in shape. Cats, like all animals, are creatures of habit and it is nearly impossible to stop the scratching behavior all together. It is a perfectly natural occurrence. The best way to stop a cat from destroying the furniture is to distract it from the furniture, attract it to a proper scratching area, and make scratching their own designated areas more appealing than scratching that which is off limits. Anyone can save their furniture from cat scratching simply by working with their animal and providing all that they need to live a healthy and happy life.
Step 1: Provide Other Options
One of the surest ways to prevent furniture damage is to provide your cat with something else to scratch. Scratching is an instinct that a cat will not overcome so finding a new, proper place for them to spend their energy is key to having a happy, damage-free home.
There are many different scratching options on the market that may suit your cats needs. Before you purchase anything, take a moment to think about what your cat likes to use as a scratching post. All cats have a preference when it comes to texture, location, height etc. and these usually vary from cat to cat. Think of how your cat scratches. Do they like to stretch up and scratch in a near standing position or do they like to scratch at the floor. Keep their preference in mind when purchasing a scratching tool. You can find all different variations, from tall scratching posts to horizontal beds. Pick the one which most closely resembles what your cat already enjoys scratching.
Also keep in mind the textures that your cat enjoys. Some cats like to scratch at the carpet while others might enjoy firmer fabric. Other cats actually enjoy scratching wood, plastic, or even glass. If your cat likes smooth surfaces, like plastic or glass, try to get a scratching tool that mimics that feel. Scratching posts and accessories come in all different types of material, including wood, burlap, carpeting, cardboard, etc.
Whatever type of scratching tool you buy should be sturdy and high quality. If you buy a tall scratching post make sure that it has a large enough base to prevent it from falling over, especially when your cat is using it. If a post falls over on your cat he is much more likely to never use it again. Try sprinkling or spraying catnip on your new scratching toy to entice your cat to use it. Once they find that the new toy is fun to use they will begin to prefer it over your furniture.
Step 2: Distract Your Cat from Scratching
Once you’ve bought your cat a new scratching toy it is time to make sure that they would rather use it instead of your furniture. A way to do this is to distract your cat whenever it is scratching your furniture. If you see your cat scratching or looking as if it might start scratching any second, try throwing a toy for it or turning on a laser pointer for it to chase. Your cat will not want to scratch if it has something more entertaining waiting for it across the room. Some of the best toys are laser pointers, feather toys, balls, and toys on a string. Some cats also love catnip and will play with a catnip filled toy for hours. Make sure that you pick safe toys for your cat and take any that might be unsafe away when you aren’t around to supervise.
Playing with your cat and ensuring that they get enough exercise is important. A healthy cat is a happy cat. Make sure you devote time each day to playing with your cat. A big part of scratching can be boredom, need for exercise, or stretching. If you make sure your cat is entertained, fit, and had plenty of opportunities to stretch throughout playtime, it will not even think of scratching as often.
Step 3: Aversion Therapy
Punishing your cat after it has scratched furniture is never a good option. However, if you catch your cat in the act, you can use a form of aversion therapy to make sure they don’t want to scratch your chair again. While a cat is scratching try making a loud noise to scare and distract them. If you make a noise each time you catch them they will associate the unpleasant noise with the act of scratching your furniture. Make sure never to make distracting noises when your cat is scratching their post or other toys.
Another way to dissuade your cat from scratching is to lightly spray it with a water bottle. Do not drench your cat, use a strong stream of water, or spray them in the face. When you see your catch scratching your furniture lightly spray their back or side with a water bottle filled with room temperature water. This will teach your cat that bad things happen when they scratch where they aren’t supposed to.
You can also teach your cat not to scratch by covering their favorite scratching spot with a texture that they don’t like. Many pet stores sell double-sided tape that can be placed on the legs or arms of furniture. Cats do not like having their paws and claws stick to the tape and will avoid it at all costs. Once they’ve learned not to scratch you can remove the tape. You can also try aluminum foil and sand paper.
Cats have an aversion to some smells so a great way to teach them is to spray your furniture with a scent that they hate. There are many options that smell offensive to cats but not to people so you don’t need to worry about making your house smell unappealing. Try looking at your local pet supply store for all of the various options.
Step 4: Declaw Your Cat
Declawing your cat can be an option when trying to prevent the scratching of furniture. However, it is important to keep in mind that this should be the last solution. Declawing your cat is not training your pet but rather removing that which causes the problem. Many experts and pet owners believe that declawing a cat is highly painful and even cruel. Before you take this step remember that regularly trimming your cat’s claws can help significantly. Remember that declawing your cat is a surgery. Not only do the doctors remove the cat’s claws but they also remove the the bone joint which connects to the claws. Your cat will need time to recover but must still walk on their feet during the recovery process. Declawing is not something to be done lightly.
An alternative to having your cat declawed are nail caps. These caps are tiny vinyl claw covers that can easily be applied to your cat’s claws. They last 4-6 weeks and can be replaced over and over for life. This prevents your cat from harmful scratching while still allowing them to keep their natural defenses. Remember that a declawed cat is at a huge disadvantage in the wild and, if your cat got lose or lost, it would not be able to defend itself against predators.