Cats love to scratch. The feeling they get running their claws on a hard surface can be relaxing and calming. Scratching also helps them mark their territory and feel more secure. But when your cat chooses to use your favorite furniture as a scratching post, it’s not very relaxing for you!
Cats have to scratch for their own mental and physical health. Not only is scratching relaxing, but it also helps remove old layers of nails. As the cat’s owner (or servant, depending on the pecking order in your home), you can teach your cat to scratch in appropriate places for the sake of your mental and physical health. Here are a few tricks.
Set up Scratching Posts Where Kitty Likes to Dig in Her Claws
Does your cat have a particular place in the house where she loves to scratch? She might always scratch around your bed or on the corner of your sofa. If you provide a scratching post as an alternative in her favorite spots, the bad furniture-destroying habit might vanish. Scratching posts can be a lot more pleasant for your cat than furniture, so she may naturally gravitate toward the new scratching destinations.
One extra tip: Pay close attention to whether your cat prefers scratching on horizontal or vertical surfaces. Then, buy a horizontal or vertical scratching post to match kitty’s preferences. This will help make the transition a lot smoother.
Scratching as Communication
Sometimes cats scratch as a form of communication. If she’s really happy or excited, you might find her scratching on furniture or even on the carpet to show her enthusiasm. Sometimes this will always happen in the same spot, such as near the front door where you come home or in a corner where your cat likes to play rough-and-tumble with your other pets. If you can pick up on the patterns, you can get a better idea of where to set up new scratching posts.
Make the Furniture Less Attractive
If your cat loves certain pieces of furniture, you can do a few things to make those pieces less appealing. For horizontal scratching cats, a little tin foil in their favorite spots can cut down on scratching. The noise and feel of the foil makes scratching a lot less fun. Double-sided sticky tape is another option. Your cat won’t enjoy scratching as much if she keeps getting her paws stuck! However, this trick won’t work on every cat. Some cats are smarter than this deterrent, as seen in the following video:
Some cats have a strong dislike for citrus scents, so spraying furniture with a lemon or citrus-scented spray might dissuade them. Keep in mind CatTime’s tips for helping cats stop negative behavior, and apply some of these ideas to teaching kitty where not to scratch.
Make the Scratching Post More Attractive
In addition to negative reinforcement on the furniture, you can use positive reinforcement to encourage kitty to be more interested in appropriate scratching posts. For example, crush some catnip between your fingers and rub it on the scratching post. Some cats love catnip and this will be enough to draw them in. For cats who aren’t big catnip fans, you can try planting treats around the scratching post or petting your cat every time she gets close to it.
Make sure your scratching post isn’t wobbly. Cats like sturdy things to scratch on. If the post feels like it could tip over any minute, kitty will quickly return to the furniture.
Cut Down on the Need to Scratch
Although your cat certainly needs to scratch, you can cut down on the frequency by keeping her nails trimmed. Check out CatTime’s article about choosing between clipping or capping your cat’s nails. You’ll need some patience of your own to keep your cat’s nails trimmed, but it can be worthwhile in the long run.
You don’t have to live with your cat’s destructive habits. And you certainly don’t have to mourn the idea of ever buying nice furniture again! If your cat is drawn to your favorite furniture, follow these tips to redirect her scratching tendencies to more appropriate objects. You and your cat will be happier for it.