Your beloved cat scratching furniture and other belongings can be a pain. Does it feel like your tiny kitty has tiger-sized claws? Is your couch looking frayed and tattered from their constant attention?
Furniture scratching can be a frustrating behaviour.
Take a deep breath and try to see your cat’s perspective. Remember, your cat has to scratch to keep claws healthy. This behaviour removes the outer sheath and acts like a kitty pedicure. Scent glands in their paw also allow them to mark their territory for other cats. Your cat scratching furniture is an instinctual behaviour.
Want to learn more about what your cat is thinking? Read our blog post.
What should you do about inappropriate scratching?
You want your kitty to keep their claws out of your furniture and curtains. There are a few tried-and-true methods.
1. Encourage good scratching behaviour!
- Provide scratching posts made with a variety of materials and heights. Many cats prefer taller posts and those made of sisal fabric or rope.
- Place kitty condos or scratching posts near windows. If they can lounge and watch birds, they will be more likely to hang out.
- Use catnip to make the “good” place to scratch more appealing.
- Praise them when they scratch in correct spots.
2. If you catch kitty scratching your furniture, direct them to the scratching post
Yelling or making noise to scare a cat scratching furniture rarely helps the situation. Your pet only learns to fear you and to avoid the behaviour in your presence.
3. Make the couch less attractive (to the kitty, not to guests)
Deter kitty’s efforts. Plastic guards or other covers make the material on your sofa a less desirable spot to scratch.
4. Address issues with other animals in the home
Remember the scent glands in the paws? Stress means cat scratching behaviour may get worse. Try products with calming pheromones, make sure kitty has safe space for just them, add extra litter boxes and extra scratching posts.
5. If all else fails, research the pros and cons of claw caps
These soft plastic caps go over a cat’s nail. They don’t stop the scratching but do stop the nail from causing damage. These caps need to be changed frequently and need to be applied well. They can be a good option for some cats. Discuss with your veterinarian if you are unsure if your cat would be helped by this tactic.
Remember, declawing a cat is akin to amputating the toe up to the joint. It is banned by many veterinary associations (including Alberta Veterinary Medical Association) and is illegal in some provinces. It also leaves cats almost defenseless if they find themselves outside or in another dangerous situation. A good veterinarian will educate you on why this is no longer offered as an option.
Fear-free trainers and cat behaviour specialists can be a great resource for additional tips. Know that help is out there. If you’ve read this far — thanks for being a great pet owner and working with your cat to find solutions!