Ask Seth: Cat Scratching
How can I stop my cat scratching the furniture?
Cats naturally scratch objects to shorten and condition the claws. A lot of cats that have access to outside find their preferred scratching areas outside on a tree or fence, but indoor cats need to find something to scratch, and if a substitute is not available, that will most likely be your new sofa. Teach your cat to use a scratching post and play with toys to redirect this behavior from the furniture. You can also use positive reinforcement in the form of food treats, praise, and a cuddle when your cat uses the post or plays with its toys.
Place the scratching post in a prominent area until the behavior is established, and then you can move it to somewhere less obvious. Indoor cats often need more than one post and cats have varying preferences for the material they like to scratch – such as tightly woven material or a loosely woven material where the claws can hook and tear during scratching. Most posts are upright, and need to be taller than your cat in full extension. Provide a play area that incorporates the post. This will encourage your cat to play with toys.
If your cat continues to prefer the sofa to its scratching post, you may need to limit its exposure to those areas, discourage the behavior by covering the area with aluminum foil or double-sided sticky tape, or use remote punishment. Never directly punish your cat as this will cause fear or aggression toward the owners, and at best, the cat will only learn to stop the scratching while the owner is around.
How do you prevent cat scratching? Tell us in the comments below!