Though owning a cat can be a dream come true, it is often a nightmare when your cat decides to scratch every piece of furniture in the house. Nothing ruins a couch or chair faster than a cat when it wants to scratch. Fortunately there are a few different methods that you can use to stop your kitty from scratching your furniture. If you take the time and effort to train your cat you will save a lot of money and aggravation in the long run.
Why Cats Scratch
There is nothing you can do to stop your cat from scratching. It is your cat’s natural instinct to scratch things in his surroundings. Before you can teach your cat where not to scratch it is important to understand why they scratch in the first place. There are, in fact, a few reason why cats scratch.
The main reason that cats scratch is to mark their territory. Cats are born with the instinct to scratch where they live so that other cats know who is who and who lives where. Scratching a tree, for instance, can leave a sign for other cats in the area that a cat is nearby. Scratching is not just a physical way to mark territory either. The act of scratching allows cats to leave their scent on a tree, bush, etc. through the scent glands located in their paws. Even though your cat is no longer wild and lives indoors it still feels the need to scratch.
Another reason that cats scratch is to take care of their claws. Scratching can help your cat file down their claws if they are getting too long. Scratching is also imperative so that your cat can loosen the outer layer of the claws, called the sheath. The sheath is left behind after scratching. This is good for your cat’s health. Cats also scratch while stretching which keeps their muscles in shape.
Whatever the reason, cats will always need to scratch. It is important to understand that you cannot be prevent your cat from scratching. What you need to do is provide things that are okay for your cat to scratch and teach your cat that scratching the furniture is bad.
Provide Your Cat with the Proper Tools
The easiest and quickest way to get your cat to stop scratching the furniture is to provide your cat with an appropriate alternative. There are many different scratching tools on the market and all of them work well, depending on your cat’s tastes.
Buy your cat a scratching post. The post should be tall enough that your cat can reach up and stretch their entire body’s length while scratching. The scratching post should also be sturdy and have a wide enough base to keep the post upright while in use. If the scratching post falls over while your cat is using it they will most likely be ill inclined to use it again. The material used to make the scratching post needs to be durable and safe for your cat. Many scratching posts are covered in carpeting, rope, hemp, and even cardboard. Choose the type of texture that your cat likes based on their favorite scratching spots at home.
You can also find scratching boards which sit on the floor or hang on a doorknob. These scratching posts are easy to move around and take on trips. They also tend to take up less space than a scratching post or a cat tree. Floor scratching boards are perfect for the cat that likes to scratch at hardwood floors or carpets.
If your cat isn’t interested in using the new scratching post or board, try to entice it with catnip. You can sprinkle dried catnip on the post or spray it with catnip spray. This will immediately intrigue your cat and, once they being using the scratching post, they will always enjoy it.
Some cats will continue to scratch the furniture even after appropriate alternatives are provided. If this is the case it is time to teach the cat that scratching the furniture is not fun. There are many different options for this training but all of them require teaching the cat that scratching furniture is an unpleasant experience.
The first option is to purchase double sided tape. Place the tape on the edges of furniture, along door frames, or anywhere else that your cat likes to scratch. When your cat scratches the tape their claws will stick uncomfortably and your cat will quickly learn that scratching that spot is not a good idea. Once your cat has stopped scratching the furniture you can remove the tape.
You can also buy sprays and scents that cats hate. These can be sprayed on their favorite scratching spot daily and, when your cats smells the scent, they will immediately walk away. Cats tend to dislike citrus and sweet smells but it all depends on your particular cat. Different brands can be found at any local pet store but make sure that you check the label first. Do not use anything that is toxic to your pet.
Another way to distract your cat and teach him that furniture is not for scratching is to make a loud or strange noise. Each time your cat begins scratching simply clap your hands, whistle, or make some other distracting noise. This bothers the cat and also distracts it from the scratching. The idea is to distract the cat but not to scare or hurt the cat. Do not scream at your cat .
Declawing Your Cat
Some people like to have their cat declawed so that they do not scratch the furniture. This is an option however it is important to understand what declawing really is. Declawing a cat is not the same as clipping their nails or even simply removing the claws. In reality, the veterinarian will need to remove the entire bottom joint of each finger when they take off the claw. This is an incredibly painful process and, while the paws heel, your cat will need to walk on the damaged fingers. This may put them in constant pain and their paws may never feel the same. Do not declaw your cat lightly. Many veterinarians and pet owners believe the declawing is inhumane. A declawed cat is also at a disadvantage if they ever escape or get lost. They will not be able to hunt or defend themselves. Remember this before you make the decision.
An alternative to declawing your cat is available. You can find rubber claw caps that temporarily attach to your cat’s claws. The caps are painless and relatively inexpensive. They will prevent your cat from scratching while allowing them to keep their claws and the full use of their paws. The rubber caps can be removed at any time and typically last for a month.
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