Why do cats scratch?
“Before you can train your cat to stop scratching your furniture, it's important to understand why they do in the first place,” says Jo.
- To stretch: Scratching allows for cats to stretch and strengthen their muscles and tendons throughout the body.
- To maintain claw health: Scratching sheds the exterior nail husk and keeps cat claws healthy.
- To mark their territory: A feline’s paw contains scent glands and scratching things helps them mark their territory and is a natural method of communication for cats. Marking territory relaxes your cat and decreases the desire to perform other unwanted behaviors in your home.
- It feels good: Who doesn’t love a good scratch, it feels great and relieves stress and anxiety in cats!
- To get attention: Some cats quickly learn that scratching gets their owners interacting with them. Even a negative interaction is worth it for some attention-loving felines.
5 ways to get your cat to stop scratching the furniture
1. Pick the perfect cat scratching posts
“Now you understand why it's healthy to allow your furry feline to scratch, purchase several cat scratching posts and interactive cat toys. To pick the perfect post that will have your cat scratching all day and leave your furniture in immaculate condition, there are a few things to look for. Make sure the scratching post is strong, sturdy, tall and covered in a material that cats love to scratch.”
“Some cats have a definite preference for sisal rope, for cardboard or for carpet scratchers, so you may need to experiment a little with scratching fabrics to find your cat’s favourite. Some may like the variety. Placing the scratching posts at varying angles can encourage your cat to use them too, as some cats enjoy a horizontal scratch and some like vertical. I also recommend using catnip or honeysuckle to spark your cat’s interest in the new scratching post and take them to their post when the wake up and are most likely to scratch.”
2. Put the scratching post in a strategic location
“You have the perfect post, so why does it matter where you put it? Choosing a place your cat already loves to hang out, such as in the living room or near windows, will encourage cats to use the post. Choosing a central location rather than an unused corner will prompt the cat to use the post.”
“Just like us, cats love to have a good stretch when they wake up, so strategically placing a post near your feline’s sleeping area is a great idea. If your cat has a particular talent for scratching a certain section of your couch or other furniture, place the post in front of this area and give them a new destination for scratching. When your cat starts investigating the new post, reward their behaviour with praise or a treat.”
3. Make your furniture unattractive for scratching
There a few methods to safeguard your furniture including:
- “Spraying the surface with a citrus scented spray as cats have a natural aversion to citrus odours.”
- “Tucking a sheet around the scratched area so your cat can’t continue scratching. Using throw rugs over sofas helps protect your furniture too.”
- “Use double-sided tape or aluminium foil on the furniture for a period of time, as it’s uncomfortable for cats.”
4. Schedule play sessions daily
“If your cat is bored or has no way to relieve stress, then they become more prone to scratching. Allocating time each day to play with your cat and incorporating new and exciting toys is an important step to discourage scratching.”
5. Dull your cat’s claws to reduce damage
“Trimming your cat’s claws is not only an important aspect of maintaining good cat health, but is one of the most effective ways to blunt the damage scratching causes to your furniture. Use a cat friendly and veterinary-quality clipper, gently squeezing each paw to expose the claws. If your cat resists, try wrapping them in a soft towel for safe handling. There are numerous products which also assist with clipping, but if your cat is particularly difficult when it comes to clipping, a visit to the vet may be necessary.”
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