Just as you and I know to eat and sleep without being taught, so also do cats know to scratch. It’s a basic instinct. Scratching appeals to cats naturally. They enjoy doing it, it makes them more relaxed. If you’re thinking your cats are deliberately being wicked to you by scratching your furniture and other surfaces in your home, honestly, they are not. It’s less about you and more about them.
Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture Surfaces?
Scratching is an integral part of your cat’s livelihood. It is not only natural for cats to stretch but also necessary. It’s a physical, social, and psychological activity for them. And you should not in any way prevent them from doing it.
Here are some reasons why cats scratch;
Scratching helps to stretch their claws and bones.
It’s a form of exercise to strengthen their upper body
It helps to remove dead cells and expose new ones for growth.
Scratching helps sharpen their claws as well
They get to mark their territory by scratching. Especially in a multi-cat home.
Cats have scent glands in between their toes. Scratching helps leave their signature in their terrain.
Cats like the feeling of scratching, it’s fun for them.
How to Stop Cats from Scratching Furniture
Waking up or coming home from work to meet your furniture in utter disarray can be a frustrating sight. And you might be inclined to get angry at your kitties. While that is understandable, it is not a concrete solution to your cat’s problem.
You need to figure out a way to take your cat’s attention off your furniture. A perfect approach to this is to provide an alternative like cat furniture. This way, your feline buddy keeps doing what he loves and does not destroy your home in the process.
Create Scratching Posts with Cat Furniture
The goal here is to create attractive alternatives for your cat to use while stretching instead of your furniture. The truth remains that most household furniture is solid and quite appealing to the feline senses. When your cat sees your black beautiful upholstery set freshly sat in your living room, his mind goes “Wow! This is a good standing tree. I’m going to paw that.” Cats naturally claw at trees and other rigid surfaces outdoor. You can see why your furniture and door surfaces appeal to their instincts.
This should inform your choice of cat furniture. You need to appeal to the senses of your cat. Most cats would favor a post that is upright and solid. In other cases, some cats prefer vertical posts or even slanted ones. You need to study your cat’s preferences.
At first, you have to provide different types of scratching posts. However, you need to make sure they all have a solid base and tall enough to bear your cat’s body size and weight. The horizontal ones, vertical, and slanting; with different surfaces and qualities. These would serve as a test for you to see which type your cat favors.
When you are sure what your cat prefers, you can then make more of those available. You’ll place these posts at different positions in your home. If have more than one feline pet around in your home, you should be prepared for more posts. Sometimes, you can also decide to go for a cat condo or cat tree. These are larger than standalone posts and can carry more than one cat at a time.
Other materials useful for cat stretching include cardboard scratchers and ramps. You can roll these on the floor for cats to have fun togging at them. These mostly appeal to cats that are used to scratching carpets.
One last thing you should pay attention to in your choice of cat furniture is the material used for making it. Wood materials are most effective – for their strength and texture – easy for cats to claw at. A redwood or cedar material is a great fit. While carpet covering can be cool for your cats, it might be difficult to correct your furry little friends from attacking other carpet surfaces in your home.
Train your cat to use the cat furniture
That you have provided alternatives in your home for cats to scratch doesn’t guarantee that your cat would stop scratching your precious furniture. You need to train your feline buddies to use the alternatives you have provided.
There are simple ways to do this. An effective method is to rub the new scratching post with a catnip. Cats are attracted to catnip which would make it work as a perfect attraction to the post. Another way is to dangle your cat’s favorite toy from the top of the cat furniture. This way, you are conditioning his mind to lean and stretch against the furniture, which is the scratching position.
When the post is still new around the house, it might be hard for your cat to scratch it because he doesn’t have enough confidence to throw his weight in. But once he can test the post and it doesn’t wobble, his confidence is built to scratch on it.
Make household furniture unappealing
To better your chances of successfully detaching your feline friends from scratching your household furniture, you need to make them unappealing as much as possible. As you encourage your cat to the cat furniture you’ve provided, you need to simultaneously discourage going back to the previous furniture. At least till your cat learns to stick to the approved furniture you’ve made available.
There are a couple of handy materials to use as covering for your furniture and other household appliances. You can also decide to remove some of the objects around or place them out of reach for your kitties. Here are some of the methods I have used in the past;
Cover up desirable objects with clothing.
Place plastic on the surface of furniture.
Use double-sided sticky tape to cover the surface of the furniture.
Add a sandpaper or vinyl carpet runner to areas where the cat stands to scratch.
Get your cat a nail plastic protector, preferably the non-sticky types.
To better the chances of adapting faster to the cat furniture, you can conduct daily sessions where you encourage him to climb up again the surface. You can reinforce this behavior by giving him a treat once he does the needful. One or two sessions like this per day for a week should do the trick. Be wary of using harsh tones on your cat or forcing him to the spot. That might send a wrong message to your feline buddy.
Clip your Cat Nails
Apart from aiming to discourage your cat from scratching your furniture surface, clipping your cat’s nails should be a routine practice as a cat parent. It’s part of the standard grooming process and should be done regularly. That’s why you must start early so that your cat can be used to clipping as a routine.
Always bear in mind that your cat’s paw is a sensitive area of his body. You need to be cautious when clipping a cat’s nails. The trick is to get your feline buddy in the most relaxed state. You can then push gently against the paws to stick out the claw. You should be aware that the claw is an extension of your cat’s toes.
The aim is to clip the tips. If you observe the claw, you’ll see two areas with distinct colors. The clear tip is the nail. Trim that area with a sharp trimmer without touching the pink or dark area. Do this for all the paws one after the other. If you trim one and your cat withdraws his leg, simply let go and let him come back before continuing.
Another trick is to get to your kitty while he’s asleep. Cats take a lot of naps during the day. You can gently get to clip the nails while petting them to sleep. If he wakes up and pulls back. Simply let go and come back to it at another opportunity.
What about Declawing?
Declawing is a surgical process where the claw end of the cat’s toe is decapitated. Remember we pointed that the claw is a part of the toe. This means cats feel every bit of pain that happens to their claws. Imagine cutting off the whole thing! That results in excruciating pain, and you should never subject your cat to that form of torture.
Little wonder why declawed cats show abnormalities in their social interactions. They are often aggressive, fearful, behave irrationally like urinating in litters, and rarely relate with humans freely. Although there are professional ways to integrate such a cat into a home in case you are adopting one, it takes time and energy. The bottom line is no one should ever consider declawing their cat for scratching furniture and other surfaces in their home.