It is natural for cats to scratch. However, this can be a serious problem when cats scratch either furniture or something else that cat owners don’t want them to scratch. Fortunately, a cat scratching furniture isn’t an insurmountable issue, meaning that interested individuals can overcome it. For starters, it is important to mention something about the reasons that cats scratch. After all, cat owners can’t come up with a good way to get their cats to stop scratching their furniture unless they have a good idea of what is happening as well as why it is happening.
First, cats are reliant on their claws for a wide range of activities. For example, cats use their claws to climb about. Likewise, cats use their claws to protect themselves from predators as well as other potential threats. As a result, cats have enormous incentive to keep their claws in the best condition possible, thus enabling them to get the most effective use out of them. Unfortunately, this means scratching to remove the claws’ outer layer in preference for their inner layer, which is newer and sharper. Something that will have to be repeated again and again.
Second, cats can use scratching as a way of marking their territory. For those who are unfamiliar, cats have scent glands in a number of locations such as their cheeks, their flanks, and their paw pads. As a result, they can use a wide range of physical interactions to put their scent on something that belongs to them, thus telling other cats to back off. Sometimes, this means rubbing. Other times, this means scratching.
Third, cats might scratch while either playing or exercising. When this happens, the intent isn’t malicious. However, the results of cats scratching while either playing or exercising are no better than the results of cats scratching with something more practical in mind, meaning that such practices should be discouraged nonetheless. Here are some considerations that can prove useful when cat owners are seeking to discourage their cats from scratching their furniture:
Observation Is Key
Cat owners should start out with some observation. After all, the more that they know about their cats’ scratching, the better-informed their plans to discourage their cats’ inappropriate scratching will be. Generally speaking, interested individuals will want to know what their cats are scratching. Common choices encompass pretty much everything with either a nubby, coarse, or otherwise textured surface that cats can sink their claws into, but the specifics are very important. Moving on, cat owners should also pay attention to when cats choose to scratch, which in turn, can shed some light on why they are scratching as well. Besides this, interested individuals should also learn how their cats are scratching because there are some cats that prefer scratching in a vertical position while other cats prefer scratching in a horizontal position.
Make the Cat’s Favorite Scratching Places Unappealing
One of the simplest and most straightforward methods for discouraging cats from inappropriate scratching is to make their favorite scratching places unappealing to them. For example, covering a spot with either aluminum foil or double-sided sticky claws should prevent it from getting scratched up by a cat because most cats dislike scratching such surfaces. Likewise, a lot of cats are less than enthused by the smell of citrus and menthol, meaning that it can be very helpful to stick a cotton ball soaked in either cologne or some other suitable substance in places that cat owners want them to avoid. On the whole, this method can protect surfaces but can’t teach cats to engage in more appropriate scratching, meaning that it should be combined with the next step.
Provide an Alternative
Essentially, cat owners should provide their cats with something that is appropriate for them to scratch. They should have no problems finding either a scratching post or a scratching pad for their feline companions. However, if they are in the mood for a DIY project, they can find plenty of recommendations in that regard as well. One excellent example would be a sturdy post that has been covered in rope, while another excellent example would be a scratch pad made out of corrugated cardboard. If necessary, cat owners can use various tricks such as catnip or a cat toy to make their DIY projects more attractive to their cats.
Use Praise But No Punishment
Cats respond well to positive reinforcement. As a result, if cat owners want them to scratch either a scratching post or a scratching pad, it is a good idea for them to praise or otherwise reward their cats to encourage further examples of such behavior. Meanwhile, cat owners shouldn’t punish their cats when they see scratched furniture because their cats won’t be able to make the connection between one and the other. Never mind the potential for their cats to start avoiding them altogether. Instead, whenever they see their cats engaging in inappropriate scratching, they should interrupt that by making a loud noise before redirecting them to something more suitable.
A cat’s claws will continue to grow, meaning that it is a good idea to keep them trimmed if a cat isn’t doing enough to handle that on their own. Otherwise, a cat’s claws can actually grow into their paw pads, thus resulting in pain, problems moving about, and the potential for a serious infection. Generally speaking, interested individuals should be checking their cat’s paws to see if their claws need some trimming every two weeks. Having said that, please note that claw trimming is definitely not the same thing as declawing, which is something that cat owners should never seek out for their cats. Some people have been known to make the very mistaken assumption that declawing is like trimming a person’s fingernails, but a much more accurate comparison would be amputating a person’s fingertips at the last knuckle. Unsurprisingly, this impairs the cat’s function in a wide range of ways, with an excellent example being how they can’t be left outside because they can’t defend themselves. On top of that, declawing results in a lot of lingering pain, which can have very real effects for the worse on a cat’s general behavior.