Even if the fact that cats can scratch furniture and bedding was never a surprise for you, you probably still have had at least one item ruined thanks to that less-than-desired feline habit. Why do cats scratch furniture? How do I make my cat stop scratching things it shouldn’t scratch? Read on to find out.
Why do cats scratch things?
Although this behavior is not a favorite, it certainly is natural for cats to scratch. There are quite a few reasons that explain scratching.
Cats keep their claws sharp this way and scratching helps remove the old parts of the claws so that the new ones can grow without causing the cat any discomfort.
Scratching is a way of marking the cat’s territory as there are special scent glands in the paws. Scratching is an easy way for a cat to let other cats know, I’ve been here.
When cats scratch, they can do it as a way to release stress and anxiety, as well as any physical and psychological tensions. It helps the cat stretch and exercise its body and provides mental stimulation.
What can I do if my cat scratches the furniture?
Use furniture covers
A good sturdy cover can extend the life of your sofa and keep it virtually free from pet hair and claw damage. Opt for waterproof materials to protect your furniture from potty accidents, spills, and stains. Covers are the simplest ways to keep your furniture intact. You can buy multiple sets and rotate them for a quick and stylish update of your room décor.
Provide appropriate scratching surfaces
What's important, remember to provide plenty of appropriate surfaces for scratching while you're trying to discourage your cat from using its claws on valuable items. When you buy scratching pads, choose different materials (cardboard, sisal, padded fabric, etc.) and ways of placing them (some attach to the sofa and furniture to protect the most attractive parts, some can be put on the floor horizontally, some are placed vertically or can be fixed to a wall or door, while other scratchers are essentially a proper cat bed or house with multiple scratchable surfaces). Try to provide at least one vertical scratching surface that allows your cat to stretch all the way up or even climb it, the way they love doing with trees in the nature. It’s a great exercise too! To keep things exciting for your cat, get a new type of scratching board or post every now and then. A festive scratching board makes a nice Christmas present for your fur baby!
Keep your cat occupied
Speaking of exercise and mental stimulation, make sure your cat gets plenty of physical activity, playtime, and intellectual challenges throughout the day. A bored cat will be looking for trouble and attention, even when the attention they get is likely going to be negative. Cats are often thought of as solitary and not needing much company but it’s not true for house cats. A pet that spends most of the day on its own, without any humans or other pets around, should get some time dedicated solely to them when you get home.
Trim the claws
You can learn to trim your cat’s claws (a vet or groomer can teach you) or take your cat for a professional trim every 2-4 weeks. This helps reduce the unwanted clawing around the house. Do not declaw your cat as it is a cruel practice that is completely banned in many countries; it gives cats a lifetime of pain and health issues related to the absence of claws. Declawing is simply not an option a responsible pet owner can consider.
Use positive reinforcement to train your cat
In the long term, positive reinforcement and behavioral training are much more effective than any short-term solution that aims at deterring the cat from scratching. For example, repellent sprays are a popular product in the market; however, what they do is offend the cat’s very sensitive organs of smell, to the point of it being uncomfortable or even painful for the cat. Using repellent sprays doesn’t teach the cat anything about redirecting its natural scratching behavior, it only deters for the limited time the spray is being used. So, as with all house pets, the best strategy is to provide plenty of opportunities to perform their instinctual, natural behaviors in an acceptable way and offer a reward (a treat, catnip, petting, grooming, or playing with your cat) every time the cat does what you want.