Tips to prevent your cat from scratching furniture
That sweet, cuddly little fur ball that has stolen your heart has suddenly decided to channel her inner tiger and is shredding your furniture. What is with that? As a pet parent, being armed with some information (and some scratching posts) could help you understand and manage this cat behaviour.
Scratching is an instinctive behaviour and cats do it for several reasons: to stretch, to communicate, play, seek attention and to maintain healthy claws.
In the first installation of our “Ask the Vet” series, Dr. Julia Hughes shared tips for how to prevent cats from scratching furniture.
Wake up call
Cats will often stretch and scratch after a nap. By providing scratching posts or towers near their nap places you can encourage their use as an alternative to the couch. Rubbing catnip on the post also helps motivate their use. Observe where your cat likes to nap and also what surfaces she likes to scratch. Provide options close by. Follow up with treats and praise when they choose the scratching over the furniture
Reinforce good behaviour
Of course, kittens have much more energy than adult cats, so ensuring they have lots of play time could discourage unwanted scratching. If your kitten does start scratching on the furniture, remove her immediately and take her to the scratching post or tower. Allow her to continue the behaviour and reward with treats, praise and more playtime in the scratching area. Using a laser pointer or a wand toy can also help draw the cat’s interest around the post and can naturally prompt scratching on the desired surface.
The health of the matter
Cat also scratch to maintain their claw health. Cat’s claws have an outer husk that sheds, so scratching helps facilitate the shedding and helps to keep those claws healthy. By trimming your cat’s nails you can minimize the damage they can do. Some experts also suggest nail caps, but only as a last resort. This option would need to be paired with other solutions for reducing scratching.
Stress can be another reason for your cat to scratch at furniture. A stress-reducing product, that releases a product based off pheromones, such as a Feliway diffuser, may calm your cat so that she no longer feels the need to scratch the furniture.
Make furniture less appealing
If none of these suggestions is working, it may be necessary to make your furniture unappealing to scratch or to totally block off the room so it is unavailable to your cat. Cats generally don’t like citrus so a pet-friendly citrus-based spray may dissuade the scratching. Placing aluminum foil or a sticky tape product can also be used.
By understanding your cat’s motivation for scratching and providing options for this behaviour plus lots of play time, praise and treats when she doesn’t scratch the furniture, your wonderful feline companion and your furniture can co-exist and you can relax and be the best pet parent you can be.
For tips to help reduce stress in your cat, and ideas for enrichment to keep them healthy and happy, visit shelterheathrpro.com
Help end declawing
The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society has long worked to educate the public that scratching is a normal behaviour in cats and can be managed to help prevent damage to furniture.
Cats in this province need your help. Join the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society in supporting Teddy’s Law, a bill introduced by Davenport MPP Marit Stiles, that would put an end to the inhumane practice of declawing cats in Ontario.
Declawing is a mutilating and painful procedure that can never be justified as a treatment in response to a cat’s normal behaviour, which can be managed in other ways. Declawing is an amputation, removing the last bone on each toe of a cat’s paw, which can cause a lifetime of pain, discomfort and significant behavioural changes in the cat.
To learn more and speak up against declawing, visit changeforanimals.ca
Here are a few more resources!
Train Your Pet to enjoy grooming: https://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-grooming/train-your-pet-love-grooming-and-nail-trims
How to trim cat’s nails: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JazJ5Rd0fTs
Hats off to you
To all kind-hearted and hard-working people at SPCA: hats off to you. I love animals and admire the work you do.