There are several reasons why cats usually scratch. They scratch when playing, stretching, marking their territory or to threaten other cats. In addition, cats can scratch to remove frayed, worn out claws because they need regular sharpening of their claws. However, cat scratches can cause a lot of damage to furniture, carpeting, and drapes.
Therefore, if your cat is scratching your furniture, you need to find means to prevent that from happening. You should not try stopping your cat from scratching, instead, you should teach him/her where to scratch and what to scratch on.
Since scratching is a natural activity for cats, you will have to think of how you can protect your furniture and other household items without affecting the cat. Here are some tips on how to prevent your cat from scratching the furniture:
Provide scratching posts
You should provide your cat with scratching posts of different qualities and surfaces and then try to teach them how to use the posts. You can try purchasing scratching posts made of wood, carpeting, sisal, cardboard, upholstery or even sisal. This will provide your cat with a range of choices especially if you don’t know what your cat prefers.
After a period of time, you will be able to understand the type of scratching post the cat prefers to use. Some cats prefer horizontal posts while others like scathing their claws on a vertical post. Additionally, some prefer vertical grain raking while others prefer horizontal grain for picking.
You should try to understand the type of scratching post your cat prefers so that you can add similar posts in different locations in your house. When choosing a scratching post, consider the following factors:
- Height of the post – the post should be at least the height of your cat when he or she stands on his/her hind legs.
- Weight – choose a scratching post that’s not too heavy to avoid injuring your cat in case it falls.
- Nature of the scratching post – choose a post made from wood, cardboard, upholstery or sisal and never from anything fluffy. Cats prefer scratching on rough and coarse posts
Teach your catch on how to use a scratching post
After you’ve bought the right scratching post, you are required to teach your cat how to use it. First of all, you should place the posts strategically in your house to enable your cat to locate them with ease.
You can locate one of the posts near your cat bed because as soon as your cat wakes up, he/she will stretch and then start scratching to relax his/her muscles. You can go ahead and place other posts in every room and where your cat spends most of its time.
Secondly, encourage your cat to use its scratching posts by scenting them using catnip, hanging toys on them or placing them in areas where he/she will be inclined to climb on them. However, make sure that the post has a good support to avoid falling on your cat as its scratching.
Make sure that the scratching posts are placed next to any furniture that the cat seems to prefer scratching. If you have a big house or several cats, having more than several posts in different locations in your house e.g. where you place your cat food is highly recommended to lessen the probability that your cat will resort to scratching your furniture.
Clip your cat’s nails regularly
Sine one of the reasons why cats scratch is to sharpen and even shorten growth of their claws, you can help them with a regular, careful trimming of their claws. If you don’t know how to do it, hire a vet to do it for you and ask him or her to teach you how to do it in future.
If you do it wrong, you can hurt your cat really bad affecting his/her movement, feeding or even behavior. If your cat is not used to claw clipping, try introducing clipping slowly while still encouraging him/her while doing it.
Alternatively, you can consider putting soft claws (plastic caps on your cat’s claws) to prevent him or her from damaging your furniture. The soft claws cover the sharp nails of the cat preventing it from damaging your household items. You can glue these soft claws yourself or have a veterinarian do it for you.
You need to understand that these caps fall off in 3 – 6 weeks, hence, they need to be reapplied. Cats are very hygienic, therefore, you should use a cat stain vacuum cleaner when cleaning their bedding to make sure they are cleaned properly. This is important because it may encourage the cats to spend more time on its bed instead of your furniture and eventually reduce scratching of your furniture.
Finally, if you have done all the above and you still catch your cat scratching on an inappropriate object, you can go ahead and startle him/her with water or clap your hands. However, use this method as your last resort because your cat may develop fear towards you after clapping, shouting or squirting him/her with water.
However, if you don’t want to have scratched furniture from outside stray cats, you should always use a cat repellent.