Scratching is a perfectly natural behaviour for a cat, and while most cats who have outdoor access will scratch on fence posts and trees, many still like to do some scratching indoors, on the carpet or furniture.
Why Do Cats Scratch?
Before you can teach your cat not to scratch your couch (or your other furniture), you have to understand why she does it in the first place. Cats scratch things for several reasons, including:
– To stretch:
Scratching provides exercise and valuable stretching for the muscles and tendons in a cat’s body from her toes to her neck and shoulders.
– To mark:
A cat’s paws contain scent glands and scratching things releases odors that mark her territory. It’s important to feline social structures to use this method of communication. Even if you only have one cat in your household, she will feel the need to transmit information in this manner.
– To maintain claw health:
Scratching helps a cat shed the outside nail husk periodically as needed, to keep the claw healthy.
– To feel good:
Scratching just feels great to cats. It relieves stress and decreases the possibility that your cat will develop other unwanted behaviors.
+ If your cat is scratching more than usual and is displaying other behaviours such as:
Being more aggressive
Changes in appetite or weight
Failing to use the litter tray
Following you around the home
Then it may just be a sign that your cat is anxious.
If your cat is not exercising enough or is not getting enough mental stimulation, it can lead to increased scratching of your carpet or furniture.
Why Not Declaw?
Now that you know why scratching is important to cats, you might wonder if it would be best just to have your cat declawed, so you don’t have to worry about ruined furniture. It’s important to understand that declawing a cat is an amputation of the digits up to the first joint. It’s painful, fraught with possible complications during and after surgery, and changes the way your cat walks, balances, and interacts with her world. You can learn more about why declawing is considered inhumane by many people, is banned in several countries, and may be made illegal in some US cities.
WHAT CAN I DO TO STOP MY CAT FROM SCRATCHING MY FURNITURE AND CARPETS?
Firstly, do not punish your cat when it scratches, even if they are scratching your trendy sofa or new carpet.
Scratching is perfectly normal behaviour for cats and they will not understand that what they are scratching is wrong.
Instead, it’s best to encourage them away from unwanted areas with some of these methods:
Let them go outside more
It’s simple but the more time a cat spends outside the more time they have to sharpen their claws on something other than your new rug.Buy a scratching post
It’s best to place these in a public area so that when your cat leaves its scent behind, it will be happy knowing that everyone will know it was there.
You can buy a horizontal or vertical post to best suit your needs. There are even multi-level furniture posts which allow your cat to climb and scratch.
Make sure that your post does not wobble, as this may discourage a cat from using it. Securing in place with a wall bracket is a good option if convenient.
If space is an issue you could buy a scratchboard or mat instead. These can be laid flat or fixed to a flat surface like a wall or door.
Trim the claws
Keeping your cat’s claws trimmed not only helps to keep scratching to a minimum, but it can also prevent your cat from injuring itself.
Lengthy claws can often get snagged on rugs or carpet causing them to either break a claw or twist a toe. This can lead to a lot of pain.
How to trim your cats claws
Use double-sided carpet tape
Apply double-sided adhesive carpet tape to the area that you don’t want your cat to scratch. This can quickly turn it into a very undesirable place for your cat to scratch.
You can buy either plastic or cloth carpet tape. We recommend going for cloth as they have fibres in them that make them a bit more heavy-duty and stick better to the furniture and also lasts a bit longer. Plastic tapes are a bit thinner and are harder to work with, often folding in on themselves.
It might be a good idea to put a scratching post next to the tapped area to give your cat an easy alternative to move onto.
Regularly clean the scratched area
Keeping the scratched area clean with soap and water will remove the pheromones left behind after your cat scratches.
This will help to limit the appeal of scratching again in the same area.
Use a cat deterrent spray
After cleaning the scratched area you can use a deterrent spray to further discourage your cat.
There is no one strategy that will work for every cat as every situation is different.
By following a few of these methods in combination though, you will hopefully soon start to see improvements to your cats behaviour.