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How can I Discourage a Cat from Scratching my Furniture?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2016
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Some cats seem to be attracted to furniture with a peculiar malice and pleasure. At least it appears that way when a cat is clawing your furniture, or ripping up your carpet with great spirit. As much as you may detest the results of the cat scratching, cats really don’t do this to annoy people or because they feel a particular anger toward furniture. Scratching is an instinctive behavior for cats. It helps cats shed small sheaths on their claws, and also is a way of scent marking objects in the house or outside.

It’s unlikely that you can prevent cats from scratching, but you can help them learn what is appropriate to scratch. For greatest effectiveness, training should begin when cats are quite young so they never get into the habit of using your furniture to satisfy instinct. In many cases, even an older cat may be taught not to scratch with consistent encouragement.

First, especially for indoor cats, you need to provide something the cat can scratch. A scratching post is often the best choice. Some people also like to use disposable cardboard scratching toys that sit on the floor so the cat can scratch vertically or horizontally. Giving the cats a place to scratch helps eliminate their need to use your furniture, carpet or draperies.

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A couple of methods can discourage cats from scratching “forbidden objects” in the house. These methods must be applied immediately in order to modify the behavior of the cat. Many cats truly dislike the sound of pennies in a coffee can, and a few shakes if they are scratching up something they shouldn’t can often make them run away from the object.

Another direct method that tends to work well is to have a squirt water bottle ready. When the cat attacks furniture or rugs, give the cat a few gentle squirts to make him stop. Cats may also be discouraged by citrus smells, and spraying furniture, rugs or drapes with a citrus deodorizer can occasionally convince the cat to leave your treasured household items alone.

At the same time that you discourage cats from scratching furniture and other objects, you should reward and encourage them to use their designated scratching post or toys. Some cats may be enticed to scratch an approved object with a bit of catnip. When a cat uses the scratching post, be on hand to offer a kitty treat or two. You should plan to offer treats for each scratch for several weeks. Then begin to offer the treats periodically, so the cat doesn’t always expect a reward. Sometimes this process can take several months, especially with older cats.

Some people solve the issue by having indoor cats declawed. Although this will keep cats from scratching, here are many ethical arguments against declawing and numerous veterinarians who do not support this painful procedure. Others argue that declawing can save the lives of cats when their behavior is no loner tolerated by their owners. The matter is a debatable and difficult one.

You can make cats a little less effective in their scratching by keeping their nails neatly trimmed. Many cats will accept nail trimming without putting up a fuss, especially when treats are offered as a reward. Longer, sharper nails typically result in greater damage to furniture, so there is excellent incentive for keeping an indoor cat’s nails short. Most books on cats, or your local veterinarian can show you how to trim nails safely so the cat is not injured in the process.

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anon205791
Post 5

How can I stop my four month old kittens from clawing the wallpaper?

anon195505
Post 4

Don't punish your cat for doing something that is a natural behavior. Shaking pennies around in a can is annoying and just scares the feline. I unfortunately tried this when I first got my young tabby and it didn't work. Squirting her with water is just cruel - you're not teaching anything with these techniques.

The best piece advice I ever read was this: When your cat is scratching something you don't want her to scratch, simply pick her up gently and carry her over to the scratching post. Hmm. Isn't this the same way we teach our cats to use a litter box: pick them up and take them to it? Easy. In a matter of a couple of days with 100 percent consistency, my furniture was a forgotten object. She has never since scratched the furniture.

Mykol
Post 3

I have an indoor/outdoor cat depending on what the temperature is outside. During the spring, summer and fall she never wants to be inside. Because of this I do not want to remove her claws so she can defend herself when she is outside.

During the winter when it is cold outside, she doesn't want to spend much time out there at all. That is when I worry about her scratching the furniture. We have a wood burning fireplace and always have logs in front of the fireplace. This is what she uses to scratch her claws in the winter.

I thought about buying one of those cat scratch poles, but I am thankful she has decided to use this instead of my furniture.

anon62013
Post 2

Cat scratch guards are vinyl protectors that attach to your furniture for people who do not want to train or discipline their cat for doing what comes naturally.

anon47104
Post 1

Being a cat furniture manufacturer and a cat owner, I hear all the time about how cats scratch people's furniture and the question what to do to stop it. They go to the store and buy this sticky tape so they don't scratch their favorite furniture, and I am not saying it doesn't work well, but your cat will move on to the next best thing to scratch, which might be walls or other pieces of furniture you may have in the house. The perfect thing to do is this buy yourself a scratching post with sisal rope and the sticky tape made especially for cats and then go home put the sticky tape on the cat's favorite place to scratch that you don't want them to scratch and then put the scratching post you just bought and put it in front of you cat or cats. If at first they don't seem interested, which can happen, (so many cats, so many personalities) then take your cat's paws gently and scratch the sisal rope post like the cat would do it on their own. They will then figure it out for themselves that, "Hmm, that is a nice place to scratch, especially because they put that ugly sticky tape on my favorite thing to scratch". If your cat will not scratch the post still, then your cat(s) must not have claws :). I know I have had cats all my life and never did this fail, even when the sticky tape didn't exist, the sisal rope scratching post was always the best thing.

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