It is a situation that every cat owner is oh-so-familiar with: you invest in a stunning new piece of furniture, only to turn around a few days later and realize that the cat has been using it as her own personal scratching post.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help prevent the trail of destruction that tends to be left behind by felines: read on for everything you need to know to stop your cat from scratching the couch and enjoy a calm, beautiful and harmonious home in no time!
Why Does My Cat Like To Scratch?
Before we take a closer look at stopping the scratching, it can be useful to have an understanding of just why your cat enjoys scratching, what motivates them, and the purpose that it serves.
Some of the main reasons that cats tend to scratch include:
To Mark Their Territory
Cats are territorial animals, and this means that if something or someone unknown has marked their territory in a space that your cat deems “theirs”, they will not tolerate any unauthorized intruders into their space.
In general, if you see your feline rubbing his head against a door or sofa leg, he is signaling his desire to claim ownership over this area, and he will likely continue doing so until he feels he owns it completely – this often spills over into scratching the area to remove the scent of the intruder.
Your cat may also feel motivated to mark out his territory because he perceives himself as being under threat.
This could come from things such as a perceived loss of status (for example, if he senses that another cat has moved up in rank), or it may simply be due to a feeling of insecurity about living with other people (if you live with others).
If this is the case, then the main solution is to continue discouraging unwanted scratching, while still ensuring that your furry friend receives plenty of love, support, and reassurance.
To Release Stress And Tension
Your cat may choose to scratch a surface to help him cope with stress, anxiety, or boredom.
It is important to note that despite the negative connotations associated with scratching, most cats (and people) find comfort in being able to rub up against objects with fur or feathers.
Some cats are even known to engage in self-cleaning behavior when it comes to cleaning themselves – simply put, rubbing yourself all over the place helps your body work out tension and relax.
Cats who tend to get stressed out may also opt to use their claws instead of their paws to scratch as that method provides more control while relieving mental tension.
If your cat seems to always resort to clawing his bedding and other furniture, try placing a blanket or pillow under the legs of the piece where your cat likes to feel secure and keep it clean to avoid further issues.
To Keep Their Claws Comfortable
Just like the fingernails of their human owners, cats’ claws grow constantly, and, over time, can become too long and uncomfortable.
Many cats will use scratching as a way to shorten their claws to a more comfortable length, while still keeping them sharp enough to handle any potential enemies with ease.
If your cat chooses to scratch because he finds it enjoyable, then there really isn’t much else you can do but support his interests.
Keep your cat busy with toys that provide stimulation, such as those made for balls, string, or rubber bands, and ensure that your furry friend gets enough exercise through running, jumping, climbing, etc.
How Can I Tips For Stop My Cat From Scratching The Furniture
Once you understand the basic drivers of your cat’s behavior, you’ll gain a better sense of how to alter the environment to prevent future scratches.
Here are several proven tips that will hopefully dissuade your cat from wanting to make your furniture its new favorite spot:
Make The Most Of Blankets And Throws
Cover furniture with blankets, throws, and cushions rather than leaving them totally bare – this can deter your cat from scratching so much and means that if they do choose to exercise their claws, they will be damaging blankets or throws rather than your brand-new sofa.
These have the added bonus of helping you stay super comfortable and cozy while you are relaxing at home!
Keep Other Animals Out Of Your Home
A lot of cats don’t like sharing their space with strange creatures, especially when said creature is another animal that they do not know.
Therefore, keeping other pets out of the house will stop your cat from trying to defend what he thinks is his turf, and can reduce the risk of scratches on the furniture.
Provide An Appropriate Number Of Toys
It is important to ensure that your pet has enough toys and stimulation to keep them distracted – boredom can be a common reason for deciding to scratch the furniture.
The type and number of toys will also make a difference; while many cats enjoy interacting with a huge number of different types of toys and playing games, others prefer a type of toy that doesn’t require too much interaction.
Some cats only want to play with things that offer minimal stimulation, as opposed to interactive toys, which may encourage your kitties to want to interact more – all furry felines are unique!
By providing lots of toys in multiple shapes and sizes, your cat will be exposed to various types of stimulation while still having plenty to occupy himself with – perfect!
Give Them Time Outside
Wherever possible, make sure that your cat has access to regular time outside.
This will not only help them to relax and calm down, but it also offers a chance to sharpen their claws and scratch different items, which can be useful for helping them to keep their claws at a comfortable length.
Giving your feline some time outdoors every day will also help him to feel happy and relaxed, as well as increase his confidence levels – two key factors in determining whether or not your cat decides to scratch something.
Offer An Acceptable Place To Scratch
It is important to ensure that your feline has somewhere to alleviate their urge to scratch, and this can take the form of a scratching post or mat, cat tree, or other toy or instrument that is designed to be scratched.
As we mentioned, this helps your cat to keep claws clean, sharp, and comfortable, and if an acceptable alternative is not provided, the couch will look like a first-class option.
You can also sprinkle or spray catnip on the scratching apparatus to encourage your cat to use it.
Redirect Unwanted Scratching
Vigilance plays a major role in breaking an unwanted scratching habit; you need to keep a close eye on your furry friend and ensure that you call them out every time you catch them scratching something that they shouldn’t be.
A firm “no” will address the behavior, and you should then redirect them to their scratching post or scratching area.
When they use the approved scratching post, don’t forget the power of positive reinforcement, and offer praise, cuddles, and treats.
Keep Claws In Good Condition
You also need to ensure that you are maintaining your kitty’s claws for good health, and this may involve booking them into the vet for a regular trim.
If your cat’s nails grow quickly and rapidly, then this can lead to irritation and bleeding, so it’s very important that they get trimmed regularly, and are kept as clean and healthy as possible.
Offering a good scratching post is also important here, as it offers them the freedom to stretch and scratch whenever they feel that they need to.
Your cat may also have specific needs around toys and equipment – some might prefer a certain type of cushioning to scratch against, and some may prefer softer surfaces.
Ensure that your home is filled with interesting choices – and remember to give them plenty of time to find what works best for them!
Keep An Eye On Overall Health
Cats sometimes scratch more if they’re not feeling well, and many well-meaning cat owners tend to underestimate how important dental hygiene is for keeping their cat healthy and content.
Dental disease is both painful and can lead to serious health issues such as cardiovascular, kidney, and liver diseases in your cat – and scratching can be a symptom that something is wrong, or your pet is in pain.
In addition, bad breath in your cat can sometimes be a symptom of a more serious underlying medical condition.
To help, try a water additive to remove tartar, plaque, and bacteria to help your cat feel fresh, happy, and healthy, as well as reduce their urge to scratch.
With some stubborn cats, deterrents are the only option to prevent them from destroying the furniture and breaking the habit of destructive scratching.
Double-sided sticky tape can be a great option to help prevent furniture scratching; the majority of cats seriously dislike the sensation of double-sided tape, as they end up with sticky paws.
This reduces the fun that can come from scratching the surface and maybe enough to break the habit.
Another option is a specialist cat scratch spray – these are usually available from vets and specialist pet stores and will contain scents and odors that your cat is not a fan of – citrus is particularly useful, as most cats tend to find this a very unpleasant smell, and will usually stay away from a surface with this odor.
These sprays can be sprayed on the scratching surface regularly, and will deter your pet from that area; just make sure you are keeping a close eye to ensure that they do not turn their attention to another piece of furniture.
Instead, try gently directing them to the designated car scratcher.
Tin foil is another popular option; the texture, sounds, and sensations of this material tend to be very unappealing to cats, and so placing it on their favorite spot to scratch can work wonders in shooing them away from an area.
Specialist cat scratch tape or vinyl panels with the soft spikes face up can also be useful here; these will not hurt your cat but will make the overall scratching process more uncomfortable or tedious for them.
Finally, be prepared to play, and make sure that you take the time to play with your cat for a long time each day.
Cats sometimes decide to scratch because they are feeling bored or full of energy and bouncing off the walls, and so half an hour with a wand toy can be the perfect option to help them burn off some energy and fulfill their exercise needs.
Playing with your cat is not only fun, but it’s also an effective method for stopping your cat from scratching furniture.
Exercise helps cats relieve stress and get rid of excess energy, which ultimately makes them less likely to look for another outlet.
While there are numerous ways to stop cat scratches from happening, the best way is going to depend upon the individual situation.
If your cat tends to scratch things when they’re stressed, you could simply provide them with toys that they would find soothing.
For those who enjoy more active hobbies (like riding bikes with your cat), providing them with places where they can exercise away the extra energy could help them avoid scratching furniture.
Ultimately, the secret to success is making sure that you have a connection with your cat; this will help you to ascertain their motivations for scratching, and will allow you to ensure that the right support and measures are put in place to discourage the habit, keep your furniture in one piece and, more importantly, make sure that your cat is having all of their needs met.
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