There are many reasons your cat scratches objects within your home. Cats’ claws require regular sharpening, so she may scratch to remove the dull outer nail sheaths. She may also be scratching as a form of play, or to get a good stretch. It’s also possible that she is saying, “This is mine” when scratching a particular piece of furniture. Unfortunately, this scratching can cause a lot of destruction. When their beloved pet damages the furniture, drapes and carpets, some cat owners turn to declawing as a solution –32 percent in fact, according to one 2011 survey. However, declawing, which many consider inhumane and cruel, may cause new problems –including a switch to urine territory marking.
Fortunately, there are simple techniques you can use to “scratch out” your kitty’s tendency toward inappropriate scratching. Because scratching is a natural behavior, the solution is not to stop the activity altogether, but to redirect it to an appropriate surface –such as a scratching post.
Different cats will prefer different scratching surfaces. Some enjoy horizontal posts while others prefer vertical or even slanted varieties. Each cat may also exhibit a preference for certain materials. Begin by providing a variety of scratching posts. Try those made of cardboard, wrapped in carpeting or sisal, and even plain wood. All standing posts should be tall enough to allow her to get a really good stretch. They should also be sturdy, not wobbly.
If your cat seems disinterested in the new scratching posts, make them more inviting with a sprinkle of catnip. Move them to the locations within your home where she spends most of her time. Make sure you’ve placed one next to each of her favorite inappropriate scratching locations.
If you notice that your cat scratches on certain posts while ignoring others, she’s showing a preference. You can then replace the posts she doesn’t like with the type of post she seems to enjoy. If you happen to catch your cat scratching in one of her inappropriate places, redirect her attention to the scratching post. A wand toy or catnip mouse on a string is handy tool for this.
You can also make the inappropriate scratching areas less inviting. Double-sided tape, like Sticky Paws, works well on the edges of furniture and the bottom of drapes. Unpleasant (to cats, anyway) herbal sprays such as No-Scratch, can be used on drapes, furniture and carpets. Some pet owners have had success temporarily covering furniture corners with aluminum foil.
Regular nail trimming, if you have a cat that will allow it, will reduce the destruction inappropriate scratching can cause. Ask your veterinarian to show you the proper trimming technique at your kitty’s next vet visit. If you would rather not bother with nail trims, you can investigate Soft Paws. These colorful little nail caps are glued over your cat’s claws and last four to six weeks.
Your pet may take an immediate shine to her new scratching posts and forget your couch forever, or it may take a bit more time. Be patient throughout the process and remember that she is not scratching to make you angry. She is scratching because she is a cat.
What do you do to prevent cat scratching on your furniture? Share tips with us in the comments!