Boo McCourt has experience caring for cats and likes to share tips she finds along the way.
Why Do Cats Scratch? How to Get Cats to Stop Scratching Furniture
There are a number of tricks you can try to stop your cat from clawing its way through everything you own. Quite often, people mistakenly think their cat scratches to sharpen its claws. But this is not always the case. More often than not, your cat is marking its territory, leaving both a visual mark and an odor or scent, or showing those of you in the house that scratching that particular spot is to be left alone.
An Expensive Nail File
Another reason your cat is scratching random spots is to file down its nails and shed the outer edge. Have you ever looked around and found little claw pieces lying around where your cat scratches? If not, take a good look next time; you will see this outer layer of your cat's nail. Cats need exercise just as much as we humans do. By scratching, they are stretching, flexing their entire bodies, and showing you exactly who the boss is.
A Demonstration of Dominance
This also is showing dominance if you have other cats in the house. Cats love to play; sometimes, you will see them bolt about the house, stop quickly, and start scratching on whatever is available at that very moment—be it curtains, sofa, chair, or your finely painted wall.
Because They're Cats
They scratch. It is in their nature. It is perfectly normal behavior. They do it because they have to. It is an urge, just like when you have to yawn. So instead of trying to stop your cat from scratching, training your cat to scratch in more appropriate places is a better option.
How to Stop Your Cat From Ruining the Furniture
Now that we've established the fact that there is no way you are ever going to stop your cat from scratching, it's time to find some alternatives for them. If you have a cat or cats, then you more than likely have had some of your furniture tainted by your precious furry friend. If not, you are very fortunate.
To make your cat stop scratching everything in your home is easier said than done. However, it is not impossible. There are several ways you can motivate your cat to stop scratching your furniture, curtains, and walls. Cats can be extremely destructive, and there is no way you can babysit them 24 hours a day. This article covers various scratching alternatives, preventative measures you can take, and how to manage their claws.
Give Your Cat Something Else to Scratch
Put various scratching materials in locations that your cat likes to scratch. There are many things available for your cat's claws to dig into. Big or small, choose whatever you have room for and can afford. Place one near the cat’s sleeping area and rub a little catnip on them, as this will encourage them to scratch in their favorite spot.
Cardboard has worked extremely well for me. Cats love boxes and paper. Lay compact pieces of broken-down cardboard in areas your cat likes to sleep and play. I have five or six pieces laid throughout my apartment, my cats gradually started using the cardboard, and now they love it. Hopefully, your cat will catch on to how great cardboard is. You can also leave a few smaller boxes around the house; your cat will love hiding, playing, and scratching inside them.
Hanging scratch posts can be successful as well; cats like to reach up, stretch, and then scratch. This kind of scratching post is easily hung on a doorknob, making it convenient and out of the way. They are simply designed and can be used in every room in your house.
There are solutions to prevent bad behavior in the future. You can try spraying a water bottle, making loud noises, or using double-sided tape and repellents. To use these items successfully, you will have to catch your cat in the act of destruction.
Diligence pays off. As a deterrent, put a little sticky tape or tin foil in the area they are not allowed to scratch. Cats are not fond of sticky tape or tinfoil. Many people use a spray bottle with water, but this is not my favorite approach. Try putting your cat's favorite treat on or near the allowed scratching locations.
If your cat is scratching on the disallowed areas, saying no in a firm tone while redirecting your cat to cardboard or scratching post as you simulate scratching will help teach new tricks. The hope is they will eventually catch on. My cats did, and they loved the cardboard. They perhaps thought I too was a cat after so much simulating, but my cats learned no furniture was allowed. I believe your cat can too.
Trimming vs. Declawing
Trimming your cat's claws every few weeks supports a healthy cat. This chore can be quite easy if your cat will tolerate it. Here is my process, step-by-step:
- I find a quiet corner to do this.
- I give treats before, during, and after.
- I hold my cat firmly in my lap (sitting on the floor works best).
- I begin massaging my cat's paws, pressing gently to extend the claw.
- I let go, give her a treat, and begin again.
Most times, she is comfortable enough to let me snip her nail without too much fuss.
You don't want to snip the pink part of the nail. If that is snipped, it can be painful and cause bleeding. Never rush through the process of trimming your cat's claws. Many cats will not tolerate it, so you may have to go to a groomer or a veterinarian.
Trimming Alternative: Soft Claws
In addition to trimming, there is a product called Soft Claws—little rubber tips that go directly over your cat's claws with adhesive. These last about 4-6 weeks.
The caps are safe and non-toxic. At first, your cat will probably feel very uncomfortable and have a tendency to over-groom, causing the caps to come off sooner rather than later. It all depends on how well your cat tolerates the Soft Paws. Research suggests most cats tolerate them very well. For more information, look for Soft Claws online.
Declawing (and Why It Isn't the Answer)
And as a last resort, there continues to be declawing. I am a firm believer cats need to scratch. It is part of their nature—part of what a cat is. Declawing is a radically painful medical procedure that involves removing the last joint of the toe using a scalpel. Declawing consists of actually amputating claws and the whole phalanx up to the joint, including bones, ligaments, and tendons. It is a very painful surgery for a cat and includes a painful recovery time. Cats can become so shocked by the experience that it changes their personality.
Many cats that are put through the declawing process end up with lifelong psychological and behavioral problems. In some cases, your cat may stop using the litter box due to tender paws; they will associate the box as a source of pain and not want to use it anymore. However, this is not always the case. Declawing your cat is a moral decision you have to make on your own. Good old-fashioned training and hard work make a good, obedient, and loving cat, not to mention a happy, satisfied owner.
Harsh Punishment Won't Work
Many people believe harsh punishment is going to change a bad behavior for the better. In fact, harsh punishment can create more problems, making your cat afraid or aggressive. Teaching your cat where it is allowed to scratch instead of yelling, screaming, or spanking will save you both a lot of heartache. Try a firm noise like clapping, or tossing a pillow to get your cat's attention.
Hopefully, with time your cat will learn to scratch in appropriate places. Be patient, and good luck!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on December 29, 2015:
i gave my cat old boxes and cartons, she loves scratching them
FlourishAnyway from USA on December 06, 2015:
You have lovely cats. They say it was all a terrible misunderstanding and thanks for the cardboard.