The couch and curtains; the walls and carpets – is there anything your cat doesn’t claw at? As a cat owner, you know there’s nothing worse than coming home to a shredded couch or ottoman – this behavior can not only be annoying, but also destructive to your home. And while you love your cat, you could live without the constant scratching at your furniture.
So how can you get your cat to stop scratching (without resulting in inhumane extremes, like declawing them)? To get the answer, it’s good to first gain an understanding of why they’re scratching in the first place.
Understanding the Itch to Scratch
It’s important to understand that cats scratch because they need to – it’s a normal, instinctive behavior they do to express emotions, from excitement to stress, and to remove the dead parts of their nails. Other times, they can simply be scratching to get in a good stretch.
However, more often than not, cats are scratching to mark objects as their own through the scent glands in their paws. If your cat has an annoying habit of scratching furniture or carpets, it is often because this is an area that attracts many different scents. For example, a mat by the front door could be a favored area for scratching because it carries a lot of scents from the outdoors, home guests, and shoe traffic. By scratching this area, your cat is replacing foreign scents with their own.
Cut Out the Clawing
Now that you know why your cat is scratching, you can understand that it’s a natural instinct, so you really can’t get them to stop altogether. However, there are ways to get your cat to stop shredding the couch, and redirect their destructive behavior toward something a bit more constructive.
Stock Up on Scratching Posts
Made up of fabrics and material that encourage your cats to scratch, scratching posts and boards offer an acceptable surface to scratch. Place the posts and boards next to common areas your cat scratches and sprinkle them with some catnip to show your cat this is a purr-fectly acceptable place to scratch.
Take Away the Appeal
Take away the appeal of common items that your cat scratches by covering up their scent. For example, if your cat is continually pawing at the couch, cover it with a bed sheet so they’re not able to smell it, and, if they can scratch at it, it won’t be ruined by their nails.
Keep Nails Trimmed and Tidy
If you catch your cat in the act of getting ready to destroy your couch with their nails, make a loud noise to distract them. You can do this by clapping, yelling their name, or even filling a tin can with pennies. Once you have their attention, redirect them to their scratching posts. It can take some time to train them, but eventually they’ll learn what places are, and are not, acceptable to stretch their claws.
Keep Nails Trimmed and Tidy
WebMD for pets recommends cats get their nails trimmed every week and a half to two weeks. You can do this at home, or, if your cat is a bit too much to manage during nail trims, you can make an appointment with a groomer or veterinarian to do this for you. By keeping your cat’s nails trimmed and tidy, they’ll have less of a desire to scratch and stretch their nails themselves.
So there you have it. While you can’t cut out scratching altogether, you can leverage a few expert-backed tips to help your cat redirect their energy and make scratching a less-destructive behavior all around.