- One way to prevent your cat from scratching your furniture is to introduce a scratching post.
- You can also use plastic nail caps or keep the cat’s nails short to reduce their destructive ability.
- If all else fails, protect your furniture with physical deterrents like sandpaper or double-sided tape.
Many cat owners have been there: You love your cat, but you don’t love their scratching habits.
It’s natural and very common for cats to scratch on things, and unfortunately, sometimes this includes chairs, couches, rugs, and more.
Luckily, there are many ways that you can deter your cat from scratching everything in the house. Here are four methods recommended by veterinarians.
1. Provide your cat with scratching posts
Giving your cat something that they can scratch may prevent them from scratching things they shouldn’t scratch.
A scratching post is a great tool to give your cat an outlet for clawing. Here’s what you should look for in a scratching post:
Posts need to be a sufficient height so that the cat can scratch the post with their front legs while standing on their hind legs, says Ryane E. Englar, DVM, DABVP, Director of Veterinary Skills Development at the University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine.
Additionally, it’s crucial that the post is sturdy. Cats can get very into scratching, and a sturdy post will ensure it doesn’t crush your kitty.
While posts are typically upright, Englar says some cats prefer a horizontal post. Experiment and see what your cat likes best.
When it comes to materials it’s mostly up to your cat’s preferences. Common post materials include carpet, sisal, and bare wood.
Important: If you go for a carpet material post, Englar says it’s important to avoid picking a post with carpet that’s similar in texture to the carpet within your home, since this will create mixed signals for the cat.
As for where to put the post, you have a couple of options. “Cats typically scratch to mark their territory, sharpen their claws, and/or to stretch. Therefore, posts are often strategically placed adjacent to the cat’s sleeping quarters to facilitate the post-nap stretch,” says Englar.
Alternatively, you can put the post in the area that is their preferred place to scratch.
How to get your cat interested in a scratching post
Englar says some ways that you can get the cat to scratch the post are:
- Turn it into a play area with toys
- Sprinkle catnip on the post
- Rub the post with tuna oil
- Imitating scratching behavior on the post yourself
2. Use physical deterrents
Another method you can use is putting physical deterrents near the furniture where cats typically scratch.
One example of a physical deterrent is packing tape, says Kristi Flynn, DVM, Assistant Professor, Primary Care, at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. You can also use double-sided tape or sandpaper.
You should place the tape sticky side up or scatter sandpaper around the furniture that your cat likes to scratch. Cats generally don’t like the texture of sandpaper or the feeling of tape sticking to their paws, so they are more likely to avoid the area.
Flynn says that you should also place a scratching post right by this area, so they have an alternative to scratch.
It should be noted that physical deterrents don’t always work. In some cases, the cat will be able to detach the deterrent, getting into the furniture, or, they may even be encouraged to play with the material because they find it fun, says M. Leanne Lilly, DVM, DACVB, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Medicine, Veterinary Clinical Sciences at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Can you buy a spray to stop cats from scratching furniture?
There are sprays available on the market that promise to deter your cats from scratching. While this seems like a great quick fix, Flynn says these are not always effective. Moreover, they can be aversive and therefore are generally not recommended.
3. Use plastic nail caps
Nail caps have a blunt surface that allows your cat to still scratch but prevents damage to surfaces, while still allowing the cat to go through all the motions of scratching, says Lilly.
Plastic nail caps are usually put on with a medium-lasting pet-safe adhesive. The disadvantage is they need to be replaced as the nails grow out, and if your cat puts up a fight when you try to touch their paws, then you may need to sedate them with help from a veterinary team, says Lilly.
If your cat is comfortable with you handling their paws, you can do it yourself at home. Whether you get it done at the vet or at home, Flynn says to be prepared to do it every month or so. Be sure to clip their nails first, and watch a tutorial video online so you learn the proper technique to apply them.
As the cat becomes more comfortable with nail trims, you can work your way up to doing one paw at a time and with time, all of them at once.
4. Keep your cat’s nails short
You should ideally clip your cat’s nails every two or so weeks, says Flynn. Keeping the nails short will prevent them from being as sharp, resulting in less damage if they do happen to scratch the furniture.
“Start by clipping one nail per day and give them a treat each time. This way they are learning it is worthwhile to sit still for nail trimming and it isn’t overwhelming. By the time you are done with the last nail, the first one is ready to be trimmed again,” says Flynn.
With practice, your cat will become more comfortable with nail trims and you can work your way up to clipping one whole paw at a time, and then with time, all paws at once. You should give them multiple treats in these instances, Flynn says.
When trying to get your cat to stop scratching furniture, be patient. Changes aren’t going to happen overnight, so it’s important to be consistent. “Sometimes no matter what you do, cats will be cats and still scratch,” says Englar.
Experiment with different methods to figure out what works best for you and your furry felines. It may take some trial and error, but it will be worth it to protect your furniture.
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