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How to Stop Your Cats From Scratching Your Furniture

Is your cat scratching up your furniture? Our veterinarians in New Iberia have some tips to help curb this behavior and provide your cat with a better outlet for their energy.

Why Scratching Is Important For Cats

Claws are a physically, socially, and emotionally vital part of every cat. Scratching is a natural and necessary behavior for cats. It is important to understand why cats scratch so that you can positively redirect this behavior.

Cats usually scratch to mark their territory. The pheromones in their paws' scent glands indicate to other cats that this is their territory. Although this may not seem necessary for indoor cats, it is a natural behavior that keeps them happy and enriched.

Scratching is also good for cats' physical health. As cats' claws grow, they shed their outer layers. Scratching helps to remove these layers and leaves the claws sharp and ready for use. Additionally, scratching allows cats to stretch their muscles and limbs, which is important for their overall health.

The goal is not to stop cats from scratching altogether. Instead, the focus should be on redirecting the behavior to a more appropriate place, such as a scratching post. By working with their natural instincts, you can train your cat to scratch in the right place and protect your furniture.

How To Keep Cats From Scratching Furniture

There are several tricks to teach your kitten where to scratch and which items to avoid. Here are the best methods our New Iberia veterinarians recommend.

Redirect Them to an Approved Scratching Area

While there may not be a foolproof answer to how to prevent cats from scratching furniture, there are a few ways you can encourage them to scratch locations that you approve.

  • Many types of scratching posts and cat trees are available in pet stores and online. Look for upright and flat ones made from various materials, including rope, cardboard, and even wood. We advise against buying ones that look like your carpet or furniture to avoid confusing your cat.
  • To prevent your cats from scratching on your furniture, try placing scratching posts near or on top of their current preferred scratching spots. This will encourage them to use the posts instead of your furniture.
  • Place posts near where your cat spends most of their time, such as by the litter box, their favorite nap spot, or next to your usual spot on the couch.
  • Enhance the appeal of posts by sprinkling catnip and adding your cat's favorite toys.

Discourage Scratching Bad Spots and Furniture

To train your cat to scratch in specific areas, you need first to identify those areas and then make the current favorite spots less appealing. While some cats adapt easily to the change, others may take time. Patience is key in this process, and we strongly advise against yelling, scaring, or spraying your cat with water.

  • Remove or block their usual scratching surfaces wherever possible. For instance, if they scratch your ottoman, try moving it to an area your cat cannot access.
  • Cover the scratched areas with a material that has an unpleasant texture like double-sided sticky tape or tin foil.
  • Use bumpy carpet runners or crinkly tin foil to make the spots they would usually plant their feet to get their scratch on less comfy.

Don't worry; you won't have a tin foil-covered couch forever. These ideas are meant to be temporary; once your cat has learned, things can return to normal.

Take Care of Their Claws

Keeping your indoor cat's nails short and smooth is a good idea to reduce scratching damage. You can trim their nails using nail clippers made for cats or a nail grinder.

However, if trimming their nails proves to be challenging, you can purchase nail caps for cats. These soft plastic covers are glued onto each claw and will naturally fall off when your cat sheds the top layer of the nail.

It's important to note that some cats may not accept this, so it's best to test one or two nails first and introduce them to the process slowly.

Why You Shouldn't Declaw Your Cat

Declawing is a surgical procedure that involves the amputation of the claw and end bone of each toe. This essentially means that 1/3 of a cat's paws are amputated. It is important to note that declawed cats must be kept indoors, as their front claws are the primary means of self-defense and escape against predators.

Declawed cats often experience chronic pain and may develop aggression or litter box problems. Therefore, we strongly discourage declawing. The paws and claws of cats are integral tools, both in physical and behavioral terms.

We have seen many declawed cats end up in shelters due to developing unwanted behavioral issues such as urinating outside the litterbox (usually on carpets, bedding, and furniture), or increased aggression and biting.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat is showing behavioral concerns and wants expert advice, contact All Creatures Veterinary Hospital today to schedule an appointment. 

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