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How to Prevent Cats from Scratching Furniture

The rip across the bottom of your favorite sofa or the tattered ends of the living room curtains are just some of the most common signs of owning a cat that scratches furniture. Cats possess a natural urge to scratch and if you don’t satisfy their need to exercise this likely behavior, your interior décor will surely suffer. In order to curb this action or at least meet your cat halfway, why not consider some of the widespread techniques and fresh ideas listed below?

How to Prevent Cats from Scratching Furniture

Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture?

Simply put – cats have a natural craving to scratch and climb. If they are not given outlets to which they can exercise this need, it is your furniture and other parts of your house that suffers. Other reasons why a cat scratches, includes:

a) Claw Conditioning:

Scratching conditions claws by eliminating older layers of nail [1].

b) Exercise:

Scratching also allows a cat to keep in shape, as the action stretches and pulls the muscles located in the front quarters.

c) Marking Their Territory:

The act of scratching signifies a territorial instinct to mark and make their ‘turf’ known. Not only does the cat leave behind visible marks in your furniture, but also a unique aroma produced by scent glands found in their paws.

d) Pleasure:

A cat takes pleasure in scratching just as a dog enjoys chasing after a ball. Keep in mind that certain furniture materials (like velvet and leather) are especially attractive to a scratching cat [2].

Furniture Scratching Prevention

A cat will scratch furniture and other objects in your household in an effort to cure boredom, exercise a bit, and mark their surroundings. However, one of the best ways to deter this action is to present suitable alternatives (like a scratching post). Contrary to popular belief, your cat will most likely not know what to do with this object and will need a little coaching. Many owners must train their cats to scratch their posts, followed by lots of praise and rewards when they catch on. To prevent your cat from scratching up the furniture, you should:

a) Patiently Coax Your Cat:

When introducing a scratching post to your cat, make it as enticing as possible. Attach their favorite toy to the post or rub it down with catnip. Whatever you do – never physically force your cat to scratch a post by holding their paws. Always rely on a reward system and lures to effectively encourage the use of the scratching post.

b) Create Negative Associations:

In your attempt to make a scratching post one of the most appealing things in the house for your cat, you should also create negative associations with the furniture and curtains you wish to protect. If you catch your cat clawing at anything other than the scratching post – immediately cause a distraction using a sudden loud noise or by spraying your cat with water to deter this behavior.

c) Vary Your Scratching Posts:

The market offers an extensive collection of scratching post styles, including real wood and rope sisal posts. Other selections may use cardboard or carpeted designs to please felines. In order to enhance the attractiveness of a scratching post, don’t forget to use catnip spray as an extra incentive [3].

d) Make Your Own Scratching Post [4]:

An easy way to satisfy your cat’s craving for scratching is to install a scratching post, but you can also make this a fun do-it-yourself project as well. First, start off by nailing an untreated 4 x 4 (two to three feet tall) to a base of ½-inch plywood about 16 square inches. Wrap the post with sisal rope (or a piece of carpeting turned inside out to highlight the rough side). The post needs to become secure because if it falls over just once – your cat will become frightened and may never use the post again.

e) Enzyme Odor Remover:

To deter repeat cat scratching on furniture, use an enzyme cleaner to remove the scent of your pet, which is known to provoke unacceptable scratching in the future. The next step is to spray a different product designed to keep pets away, such as an option containing citronella.

f) Make Favorite Scratching Sites Undesirable:

Cover your cat’s favorite scratching sites with netting or loosely woven fabric, as they do not like snagging their claws on this kind of material.

g) Declawing [5]:

Declawing is an irreversible surgical procedure often seen as a very last resort. This practice actually removes the last joint associated with the cat’s “toes.” The method is so controversial that it is actually banned in many European countries, including the United Kingdom.

h) Special Products:

In order to make life much easier for cats and their owners, many different companies have designed unique products to deter unwanted scratching, such as Soft Paws (lightweight vinyl caps that fit over the claws of cats). When a cat scratches – the rounded edges of this product do not pose a threat to furniture and other household items. Soft Paws even come in fashionable colors (like a patriotic red, white, and blue), where one kit lasts for at least five months and costs around $20.

Resources

[1] http://www.perfectpaws.com/scratch.html
[2] You & Your Cat by David Taylor (pg. 146)
[3] http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=1&cat=1310&articleid=166
[4] Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats by Richard Pitcairn (pgs. 164-165)
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onychectomy

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