How to Keep a Cat from Scratching Furniture
As any cat person would tell you, owning cats is a wonderful thing. Between their individuality, sassiness, independence, and cuddling moments, they are the ideal pet to have within the family. Now, as lovely as they can be and can truly complete the overall family dynamic, there is no denying that scratching furniture is one of the most substantial downfalls of owning a feline. Cats seemingly love scratching furniture, and getting them to stop scratching sooner than later is going to save you a lot of hassle and money in the long run.
So, if you are having trouble getting your cat to stop scratching things they are not supposed to, here are some tips on how to direct their instinctual needs elsewhere so they will finally leave your furniture alone.
Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture in the First Place?
First off, cats are hardwired to scratch. It is part of their normal behavior and is done to remove dead layers of their claws and keep them sharp for “hunting.” They also enjoy scratching because it is a way for them to mark their territory. They have scent glands between their claws, and when they scratch, that gets left behind to tell other cats that the area they used is already preoccupied. On another note, scratching, in general, is an excellent exercise for them! It keeps them in good shape and gets their bodies moving productively.
Furniture, in particular, is right there and available for them to scratch, which is why they do it. The fabric feels good, there is a lot of space for them to do it, and if they are an indoor cat, chances are they are unable to use trees like outdoor cats do, making your couch their next best option.
How to Stop Your Cat from Scratching Furniture
The urge for cats to scratch is a strong one, and simply telling them “no” when they begin digging into the back of your chair is not going to remediate the problem long term. The good news is that there are ways you can deter this behavior while still allowing them to get their scratching needs fulfilled at the same time.
- Invest in Scratching Posts: One of the more obvious things you can do is get your cat a scratching post. This will become their sole place to get their scratching cravings fulfilled while keeping your furniture in prime condition. However, getting your cat to realize this is for them and switch their focus might take some time and training. To help them along, each time they start scratching the furniture, pick them up and bring them to their post. Furthermore, some cat owners use a water bottle spray when the cat scratches the furniture, but then praises when they scratch the post. Over time, the cat will realize that post means good, and furniture means not good.
Bonus: Whatever you do, do not hit your cat. Hitting is abuse and only leads to your cat being fearful and timid of you. Use the water bottle and guidance strategy instead.
- Use Deterrent Spray: Think about spraying the areas your cat loves to scratch the most with some deterrent spray. It does not have to be super potent that it scents up your whole room, but just enough to keep your cat away from that location. A good combination is a herbal blend of astragalus and rosemary. Products that have this are soft on furniture but deter cats without harming their health.
- Personal Grooming: If your cat will let you, try clipping their nails for them. Doing so and keeping their nails shortened/dull will reduce their desire to scratch. As a fun tip, if you have a kitten, get them used to this process now. Trying to train an older cat with nail clipping becomes much more of a challenge.
Bonus: Make sure you use respected gear to perform this task and research exactly how to do so safely. Cat nails are among the most sensitive parts of their body and need to be handled with extreme care.
- Temporarily Tape or Cover your Furniture Off: This does not have to be a permanent thing that makes your furniture an eyesore, but it is a good way to steer your cat away from scratching. If you use tape or furniture covers, it stops your cat from even having the option to scratch the furniture directly. Though this is great, make sure you do have an alternative (such as the scratching post) because chances are they will look for another spot.
Just like little box training when you first bring a kitten home, training to stop scratching takes some time. And with the right tips and dedication on your part, you will eventually get to the point where you and your cat are on the same page when it comes to scratching and where they can do so.
As a final note, always remember that cats scratch because they need to. It supports their emotional and physical needs and is a way for them to perform their feline intuitions. Trying to get your cat to stop cold turkey is not going to work (unless you declaw), so what you need to do is show them where they can scratch that will not do harm. In the end, stay persistent in directing, keep their stress levels as low as possible, and show them as much love and compassion as you can. They will get it eventually, and you will establish a productive routine and mutual understanding sooner than you may think.