Cats make wonderful pets; independent animals, they’ll happily amuse themselves while at the same time providing entertainment, love and companionship. Unfortunately, cats also love to scratch, and they’re not mindful of where they do it. If you’re fond of your furniture, the following advice may help.
Why do cats scratch?
Cats scratch instinctively, and it would be unnatural for them not to do so. They’re territorial animals and scratch when marking out their territory, leaving scent from their paws to deter other animals. They also regularly shed the outer layers of their claws, and scratching helps to remove these. Cats enjoy scratching and will often do so in order to exercise and stretch their muscles.
How do I stop my cat from scratching my furniture?
Provide your cat with alternative scratching areas - if he has a suitable alternative whereby he can stretch, play and scratch, he’s less likely to focus on your furnishings. Scratch posts are usually inexpensive, and most cats will use them when encouraged. Make sure the scratch post is tall enough for your cat to stretch himself vertically and that it is placed in a prominent position. Try hanging toys or small balls off it to give him something to play with as well; if your cat is attracted to catnip, rub or spray it on the post and the toys.
Cat trees are a fantastic solution for keeping your cat entertained but more expensive than a simple scratching post. These structures come in varying sizes and enable cats to climb, scratch and play, distracting them from your furniture; cats love cat trees as they keep them occupied by providing them with their own indoor playground.
If your cat is a horizontal scratcher, you can buy surface scratchers, including mats, cat beds, sofas and hammocks.
What if my cat is still scratching my furniture?
If you’re happy to invest a few dollars, then consider buying an automatic pet deterrent. These devices have proven to be extremely successful in scaring cats away from certain areas by emitting a warning sound followed by a blast of compressed air whenever they detect motion.
Alternatively, train your cat by startling him when he starts scratching your furnishings. Try squirting him with water, clapping your hands or blowing a whistle, firmly telling him “No” at the same time. After you’ve done this, pick him up and place him next to his scratch post so that he can clearly identify what it is you want him not to do – and what it is acceptable to do. As a temporary measure, you could also try covering the items that your cat scratches the most with aluminum foil, double sided tape, netting/mesh or plastic covers. Spray wooden areas with strong polish, citrus sprays or citronella – cats are repelled by certain pungent odors.
Preventing your pet from scratching your furniture can be an onerous task, but it is possible. Start training your cat as soon as possible – the younger he is, the quicker he’ll learn.