5 Tips To Prevent Your Cat Scratching the Furniture
One of the few drawbacks to living with our feline friends is when you catch your cat scratching furniture. This destructive behavior can soon leave your precious furniture in ribbons and your patience wearing thin. The good news, however, is that there are many ways to stop cats from clawing furniture – ones that don’t require declawing.
This article will get into the ins and outs of how to prevent cats from scratching and clawing at your furniture. So, if you’re looking to regain your happy home and strong bond with your cat, read on and discover 5 tips to stop your cats scratching your house up.
Why Is My Cat Scratching Furniture?
Knowing why your cat is scratching furniture can often be the key to helping curb the desire to attack your furnishings. Once you know the reasons why this happens, and what the specific triggers are for your cat, you’ll find it much easier to stop cats from clawing furniture.
There are four main reasons why cats scratch your furniture. The first is that they are simply stretching out and their claws have extended, meaning that their clawing is entirely accidentally and simply a by-product of your cat elongating their muscles.
The second comes down to how territorial your cat may be. If you notice your cat scratching your outdoor furnishings more frequently than your internal fixtures and fittings, it could be that they are creating a warning for other animals in the area. Cats have a natural instinct to create and protect an area near their home and the scent glands located in their paws are a great way of warning other animals that this is their space.
It’s also important for cats to be able to shed the outer layers of the claws, which grow in layers. Being able to remove these layers over time allows for new, stronger layers to grow and keeps their claws in tip-top condition. Perfect for climbing and exploring the area, whether that’s inside the home or outside in nature.
Finally, one of the main reasons why cats claw furniture is simply because it just feels good. In the same way that stretching our body after being in the same position for a long period of time feels great, a cat will stretch and pull with their claws to feel better. This is completely natural and not something your cat does to you – although this can sometimes be the side effect!
How to Keep Cats From Scratching Furniture
Buying a Scratching Post
This may seem like the most obvious choice, but you’d be surprised how many people buy a scratching post to prevent their cat clawing furniture – only to find their cat has no interest in it. There’s a couple of things you’ll need to consider, in order to ensure your feline friend actually has an interest in your new piece of furniture.
To begin, it’s important that you buy the right scratching post. The right scratching post will depend on your cat’s size and preference, as some cats prefer to scratch a horizontal pad, rather than a tree. Of course, they will also want to stretch out while clawing the item, so it’s important to find one that is as tall as they are when stretching. For most cats, this is around 1.5 to 2-foot-tall (during a really big stretch). However, for larger breeds such as the Maine Coon, you may find that you need a scratching tree that is much longer than this.
Next, you’ll need to place your cat scratching equipment in the right place, in order to encourage their usage. If your cat appears to have a favorite spot in which to scratch – often indicated by the furniture which has the most claw marks – then the easiest way to encourage your cat to use the post is by placing it beside their favorite spot. For those with larger houses, it can be worth buying a few posts to stop your cat clawing furniture and having freely available posts to scratch, instead.
Correct the Behavior
Cats, like dogs, can be trained by using positive and negative reinforcement. It’s important to note that this does not include hitting your cat – as this will simply cause your cat to distrust you, become stressed and may even worsen the behavior. Instead, you can use a loud noise when your cat is scratching and stretching on your furniture. The loud noise and subsequent scare will quickly become associated with this spot and their behavior, leading your cat to refrain from scratching your furniture.
Another common way of correcting behavior is to use a spray bottle with water. If you spot your cat about to claw your furniture, you can give them a quick spritz. Again, this helps your cat to associate their furniture clawing habits with the negative repercussion of being sprayed, and should reduce the frequency in which this happens.
Where possible, positive reinforcement should be used. A great example of this is to use treats around a scratching post. This way, your cat will learn to associate their new scratching spot with lots of positive experiences.
If your cat really seems to be determined to go for your soft furnishings, it can be worth limiting the access they have to those items. While this isn’t the ideal way to stop cats from clawing furniture, it can be used while you work on your cats’ behavior and try to find the cause of the problem or redirect them elsewhere.
If your cat likes to have a go at your furniture when you’re out of the house, or you feel that they can’t be trusted alone just yet, then you can completely cut off access to that item. The best way to do this would be to shut the door of the room.
However, if that is not a practical choice, you can also cover the furniture in throws and sheets while out and about. Microfiber and softer fabrics are not as interesting to cats, as they won’t be able to pull their claws in the same way as they could with tougher fabrics and weaves.
Using deterrents is another great way of retraining your cat to use appropriate scratching areas and help stop cat from scratching furniture. There are many different varieties here, so go with what works for both you and your cat – and be sure to switch to something else, if your cat seems distressed at any time.
The first option is to use your cats’ sense of smell to help discourage them from taking interest in your furniture. Diluted citrus oils are particularly good at this, as their strong scent stops the cat from seeing your soft furnishing as a pleasant area in which to stretch out and get their claws into your furniture.
You can also use specialist aids, such as “sticky paws” which creates the feeling of an unpleasant surface for your cat. Once they get the idea that their scratching area doesn’t feel good, they’ll soon seek out another spot in which to give themselves a manicure.
If you don’t like the idea of using something like this on your furniture, however, you can also opt for a motion detector which creates noise. Simply turn on the gadget and place this close to the area your cat favors. When your cat gets too close to this, the motion detector is triggered, and a high-pitched sound will be emitted. This sound will discourage your cat from getting too close to your furniture, but be aware that this may not be ideal for smaller homes.
Use Claw Covers
Having grown increasingly popular over the years as a way to stop your cat’s claws from doing any harm, without the need for declawing your cat, these covers simply cover the claws of your cat. They come with pet-friendly glue that allows the rubber or plastic covers to mold over the natural contour of your cat’s claws and even come in a range of cute colors.
This is ideal for indoor cats – but you should be aware that outdoor cats will often need to use their claws in self-defense and when climbing or exploring. Thus, if you have an outdoor cat, it’s best to find a suitable alternative to stop your cat from scratching your furniture, such as the options given, above.
Don’t forget that you can use all of these tips in any combination. For example, it can be worth using catnip on your scratching post, to help pique their interest in their new scratching equipment. Another great example is by distracting your cat away from scratching your furnishings by providing them with tasty treats near their scratching post. Often, the most effective way to discourage your cat from scratching is by having them chase a toy, which you can then make “climb” the post. Your cat will chase this and suddenly discover that their scratching post can make for a great item to get their claws into!