Scratching is a normal behaviour for cats: it keeps their claws sharp and gives them a sense of security. However, it can wreak havoc on your furniture! Here we’ll look at ways to manage your cat’s scratching, for a happy home and a contented cat.
Why do cats scratch furniture?
Although it can be frustrating to catch your cat flexing their claws on your couch, it’s important to remember that scratching is essential for their social and physical wellbeing.
Scratching provides many benefits for cats including:
- Claw health – Scratching keeps claws healthy by shedding the old outer sheaths of the nail.
- Exercise – Scratching helps cats to strengthen and stretch their upper bodies.
- Marking territory – Cats are very territorial animals: scratching provides a visual indicator that a particular area ‘belongs’ to them.
- Marking scent – There are scent glands between your cat’s toes, and when they scratch they leave behind traces of their ‘signature’ scent.
- Emotional release – Just like us, cats can become bored and frustrated. Scratching gives them an outlet and helps to relieve feelings of anxiety.
How do you stop cats scratching furniture?
So then, how do you look after your cat’s needs while also preventing damage to your curtains, carpet and couch? For a peaceful household, follow these tips on how to stop cats scratching furniture:
1. Provide an alternative
First, place scratching posts in the locations where your cat likes to scratch. Make sure they’re sturdy enough to support the weight of your cat. With vertical scratchers, your cat will want something tall so they can completely stretch out while they’re scratching.
Many ‘cat trees’ come with inbuilt scratching posts and raised platforms for your cat to sit and survey their kingdom. These are a great option if your cat also loves climbing on your furniture.
If you want to know how to stop cat scratching carpet, a horizontal cardboard scratcher is a great option. These are generally inexpensive and easy to replace once your cat has completely shredded them to pieces.
2. Direct their attention to the scratching posts
Once you’ve got your cat scratching posts in place, you can encourage your cat to use them by using positive reinforcement.
A good method is to dangle one of their favourite toys in front of the scratcher. If your cat is in a playful mood they’ll pounce, which will bring them into contact with the scratching post. You can also try rubbing the new scratching post with catnip, which is available from most pet stores.
If you catch your cat in the act of scratching your furniture, don’t yell: it causes stress, which can lead to more bad behaviour. Instead, try to lure your cat towards their scratching post with a toy.
3. Use cat treats to reinforce good behaviour
Cats respond well to delicious treats. So when you see your cat doing the right thing, reward them by providing one of their favourite treats.
Don’t try to force your cat to use the scratcher by dragging their paws across it: it will just confuse them. You’ll need to be patient and wait for your cat to use the scratcher, at which point you can reward the behaviour.
If the scratching post starts to get a bit ragged-looking, don’t throw it out! The sight of the shredded post will help your cat feel secure in their territory.
Minimising damage to furniture from cat scratching
It might take some time for your cat to learn that the couch is not for scratching. Here’s what you can do to protect your furniture in the meantime:
1. Trim their nails
If your cat’s claws are trimmed regularly, they won’t be able to do as much damage. If you have never trimmed your cat’s nails before, we recommend you seek assistance from a vet or a professional pet groomer.
2. Covering the carpet/furniture
A thick blanket can be used as a cat scratching couch protector. You can also discourage your cat by covering patches of the couch with aluminium foil.
Similarly, you can use rugs and vinyl floor protectors to cover carpeted areas.
3. Use double-sided tape
Sticky Paws is a special kind of double-sided tape that deters cats from scratching furniture. Simply apply the tape to the problem area, and your cat will soon get the idea.
Household harmony for you and your cat
Once you provide your cat with appropriate scratching outlets, you can enjoy the joy of pet ownership without the risk of damage to your furniture. With a few simple adjustments, you can keep your carpet and couch protected, while still enjoying the special companionship that only a cat can bring.