How Can I Stop My Cat From Scratching Furniture?
Scratching is a natural behavior of each cat. All cats need scratching in order to maintain their nails healthy, but this habit can often result in our favorite furniture being completely shredded or destroyed. That's why most cat-owners want to know what they can do in order to make their kittens stop scratching. Discover in this article what are the best methods to use if you want to make your cat's scratching habits right.
You just came back from work, and while you were on your way to your kitchen you see scratching marks all over the side of your couch. Does this sound familiar to you? Just when you were ready to relax after a long day of work, the scene of your furniture being destroyed when you’re away drove you mad within the seconds. What will your cat scratch next?
While this might not be really consoling to hear, but scratching furniture is among most common issues cat-owners go through. However, there is also a way to make your fussy little cat stop scratching that beautiful couch of yours. However, let’ first learn few things about cat scratching.
Why Do Cats Scratch?
Before solving this annoying problem, let’s find out why do cats scratch in the first place? Cats scratch in order to:
- Stretch – While your cat scratches, her muscles are getting exercise and a valuable amount of stretching. When scratching, your cat stretches from head to toe.
- Mark territory – Cat paws contain scent glands that leave odors while your cat scratches. This way, they communicate that they are bosses of the place both visually and through odors.
- Maintain Claw Health – Scratching helps cats to remove the dead outer layer of their claws which helps in keeping the claws healthy.
- Feel Good – Cats enjoy scratching because it’s a great way of stress relief.
So, basically, your cat didn’t mean to destroy your favorite chair or to revenge. Scratching is a normal cat behavior and it is not something that they should ever stop doing.
However, there is a way of making all these things possible for your cat without having to sacrifice your beautiful furniture. We’ll get to that soon, but let’s first see which methods you should never consider.
Should I Declaw My Cat?
The first solution some people think of is having their cat declawed. But is that the smartest way to prevent scratching? Not really.
While declawing might seem to you a simple procedure as trimming your own nails, it is a completely different thing. Declawing is not only the amputation of the claws, but it is an amputation of the last bone of your kitten’s toes. In fact, declawing is a painful, unnecessary surgery that can cause multiple complications, and can also lead to behavior problems much worse than scratching.
After a declawing surgery, your cat might change the way she walks and interacts with her world. It was found that these surgeries have no medical benefits for cats.
In fact, this procedure is considered to be so inhumane that it is actually banned in several countries, while some cities in the US are trying to make it illegal.
We hope it is clear now that declawing is not an option you should consider when dealing with your cat’s scratching habit. So, what can you actually do?
How Do You Train A Cat To Not Scratch Furniture?
Cats start scratching when they are about 8 weeks old, which means that’s also the perfect time to start training kittens to get their scratching habits right.
The first thing you have to do when bringing your perfect, little kitten to your home is provide her with all necessary equipment needed. If you’ve run through our cat adoption checklist you have probably seen that you should get a scratching post for your cat.
That’s right, the best way to train your cat not to scratch your furniture, is to find a well-suited scratching alternatives. Cats shouldn’t stop scratching, as it is a natural behavior all felines have that also is considered to be healthy for them.
So, let’s see what you can do in order to make your cat’s scratching appropriate for apartment-living.
1. Trim The Cat’s Nails
Since cats use scratching to trim their nails and removing the dead layers of the claws, it might be wise to cut down your cat’s nails every one or two weeks. This way your cat won’t have the need to scratch so much.
Also, clipping cat’s nails is much easier if you start doing it while they are still kittens.
2. Use Scratching Posts
If you provide sturdy and rough-textured scratching posts to your kitten while it’s still very young, you will make developing healthy scratching habits much easier. You might resolve all future scratching problems with a simple post or pad that your cat should easily fall in love with.
You might also want to buy several scratching posts instead of one.
3. Make Furniture Less Appealing
Look at the places your cat likes to scratch. Those are most commonly surfaces that they enjoy sinking their claws into, but there are some materials that will simply drive your cat nuts and make your furniture look undesirable to them.
People say that simple tricks as putting aluminium foil over the furniture, as well as sticking double-sided tape on the surfaces will stop the unwanted scratching. However this should last only during the training phase. With time, your cat should focus on another place to communicate its presence (A.K.A. the scratching post).
4. Introduce A Little Punishment
By this we mean making it super clear to your cat that you’re not enjoying her scratching on your furniture. The best way to do this is by finding a small and quick “punishment” that will discourage your cat from continuing this annoying habit.
Buy a spray bottle and fill it with water, then spray your cat with it each time she scratches somewhere other than a scratching post.
5. Place Your Scratching Posts Strategically
Don’t put scratching posts just anywhere. Instead, choose places that you know your cat already likes hanging out. Those will probably be the places near her sleeping area, or the space where you and your family love spending time the most.
Your cat wants to communicate that she’s marking the territory by scratching, therefore, she wants to do it where you can hear it. This means that you shouldn’t place the post in your basement or an unused corner. Rather, place it front-and-center in the rooms you use the most and let your cat show off in front of everyone.
6. Use Citrus Deterrents
Our feline friends are not really big fans of citrus. So, you can use their natural aversion to citrus odors in order to stop your cat from scratching the couch.
Buy a citrus spray or make one on your own, and spray your furniture with it. In most cases, this would do the trick and your cat will quickly stop using the couch to scratch and stretch.
7. Attract Your Cat To A Post Or Pad
If you already bought the scratching post but your cat seems to be ignoring it, then you might want to make it a bit more appealing to her. Sprinkling the scratching posts with catnip or spraying them with honeysuckle might attract your kitten to the post.
Another way you can get your cat to be more interested in the post(s) is to use a wand toy. Stand close to the post and start playing with the wand toy. When your cat started playing with you, put the toy closer to the post and let your cat discover the post by herself.
8. Use Feline Pheromone
Some cat-owners claim that they have resolved their cat’s scratching habits by applying feline pheromone spray to the furniture. The feline pheromone reduces the cat’s desire to scent-mark, which might be the reason why your cat is scratching the couch in the first place.
Also, if your cat’s scratching is stress-related and is caused by some changes in the environment, feline pheromone diffusers that are plugged into the wall help in calming cats when in stressful situations.
9. Use Treats To Encourage Using The Scratching Post
Whenever your cat uses the scratching post for its main purpose, reward her with praise and treats. Have treats always close to your hand, as this could make any of your current methods much more successful. Cats, just like other animals, really love food.
10. Use Nail Covers
If nothing of the above works (which we really doubt), you can consider buying nail covers. These soft, vinyl covers fit onto the cat’s nails and should be changed every four and six weeks.
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