Having a cat in the house is always associated with tranquility, comfort and warmth, and, indeed, it might be true if your pet has a good upbringing. However, there are such cats with an attitude that leaves much to be desired. That is why it is very important to remember that when you bring a pet to your house, he should not be treated as a funny and cute toy. Now it is a full-fledged member of your family and correspondingly you have to provide him with a proper care.
According to the statistics, there are 9.6 million cats living in the US families. The majority of such families does believe that cats are better than dogs only on the basis of their infinite cuteness, charm and easier maintenance. Nevertheless, you should be prepared for the revelation that, despite all their cuteness, these little troublemakers can be quite annoying sometimes. For instance, they can pee in any place they want, scratch your favorite furniture, crash a dinner service inherited from your granny, chew household items, etc. Be sure that their destructive potential is unlimited! In the course of this article, we are going to pick apart one of the most annoying cat’s habits – the furniture-scratching habit.
Basic reasons why your cat keeps scratching furniture
The voice of instinct
Before starting to deal with the problem, it is necessary to know its cause. And so, why do cats scratch? Such behavior is typical for all representatives of the cat family, not just for house cats. In nature, wild cats scratch trees to leave their marks and scent. In such a way, they mark their territory and inform their potential competitors that they should stay away from the marked land.
Moreover, scratching is a kind of hygienic procedure. When a cat scratches your furniture, it leaves claws scales on a rigid furniture upholstery. Quite often cat owners can find a whole claw stuck in the torn upholstery. They think that their pet was trying so hard that it managed to tear itself a claw. In fact, it is only an old and useless outside sheath that must be discarded to leave room for a new, sharper claw. Your cat simply doesn’t know another way to get rid of it. To cut the long story short, such a “manicure” helps cats keep their claws sharp.
In such a way, some cats try to cope with a stressful situation. When a cat is frightened, upset or angry for any reason, he is very likely to vent all frustration on the nearest armchair or sofa.
Scratching furniture, walls, flooring, etc. is a good training for a cat. Destroying your armchairs and sofas allows your cat to learn how to protract his claws – a very important mechanism that he needs for hunting and survival. Of course, domestic cats no longer need to fend for themselves or chase a prey. However, it is not an easy task to ignore hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. And if an instinct dictates your cat that he needs this skill, there is no way to convince him he doesn’t.
You probably know that cats love playing. And the fact that they can completely destroy some valuable belongings doesn’t phase them in the slightest. Almost anything can become a toy: a keyboard, TV cables, a remote control, kitchen utilities, etc. And of course they can scratch or break something while playing. Nevertheless, do not rush to punish your cat, as he needs to play in order to exercise. That is why it is better to organize a separate playing area for your pet in order to keep your cat from scratching furniture and destroying your stuff.
Cats are social animals and like humans, they can’t live without communication. Unfortunately for their owners, one of the ways of cat’s communication is scratching. Cats have special scent glands on the bottom of their paws. With their help, cats can leave unique signatures on all objects they will choose for scratching. In such a way, they leave “messages “for other animals.
The best ways to keep cats from scratching furniture
It doesn’t matter how many times you will be told that scratching is natural behavior for cats, it won’t make you feel better. All cat owners who face this problem will be looking for ways to solve it anyway. Here are several techniques that can help you to keep your cats from scratching furniture.
Your main argument – intonation
If your cat does something undesirable, for example, ruins the furniture, you let him know who’s the boss with the help of intonation. Remember that your intonation should be strict and unconditional. Be sure that cats understand it better than the words or actions. The main point here is stability. If you forbid something once, do not turn a blind eye at your cat’s misbehavior next time. However, remember that this method will work only for a while. Moreover, if you always overreact, your cat may start being afraid of you.
Try unpleasant sounds
You can keep your cat from unwanted or prohibited actions by making a loud and frightening sound. For example, if your cat is doing something forbidden, knock loudly at this time or drop a heavy object on the floor. All cats are afraid of unexpected, loud and shrill sounds. They are unpleasant to them. Once your cat begins to understand that his certain actions trigger awful noise, he will form a habit not to do that anymore.
Trim his claws
If you have decided to trim your cat’s claws, you should be very careful in order not to hurt him. Asking a professional vet for help would be the best option. Of course, you can learn it yourself if you want. You should trim a sharp part of cat claw at a certain angle. Never cut them too short, as this may lead to pain and bleeding. In no case use clippers for dogs, as they and cats have the different form of claws. After such procedure, praise and encourage your pet to make sure that the process of claw trimming will not turn into a torture for him. However, you should know that this will not stop your cat from scratching your furniture. The purpose of a trim is to reduce the extent of damage your cat can do.
Train your cat
Training a cat is definitely not something simple. Moreover, such noble “mission” requires a lot of time, patience and certain skills. Of course, you can’t completely stop a cat from scratching, because as, it was mentioned above, it is normal behavior that is in the very nature of a cat. The best tactic is not to try to force your cat not to scratch anything, but to teach your tailed friend where and what he can scratch instead. Provide him with special attractive items for scratching. For example, it could be a scratching post or a special house with scratching posts. Such method will allow your cat to sharpen his claws without ruining your furniture.
By the way, should you decide to focus on your cat’s behavior more seriously, the best decision is to look for professional help. Sometimes it may seem that a cat behaves inappropriately or does something to spite its owner. In fact, such assumptions have nothing in common with the truth. There is always a reason for everything. That is why it is better to consult with a cat trainer and get helpful training tips rather than to demonize your cat.
Give him some space
Each and every cat needs to have his own spot, a quiet and calm place for rest and sleep. And if you do not provide your kitty with such a place, he will find it himself on the couch, bed or in any place in your house. However, if you arrange a separate home for your fluffy friend, he can really become more disciplined in time. The thing is that its own secure space can help a cat to express his emotions in a proper way. Moreover, specially made houses for cats are usually equipped with scratching posts, which is extremely important for both kittens and adult cats. And, frankly speaking, these houses can’t be described as just houses: these are entire towns or fortresses for cats and kittens, where they can sleep, sharpen their claws, play and generally spend their cat leisure in the way they want.
Give him a playground
One of the main reasons why cats scratch everything around them is that they don’t have enough space for playing. So, if you do not want to part with your favorite upholstery or armchair, you have to provide your four-legged friend with a separate playground.
Give him something to scratch
Actually, we have already mentioned that the best solution is not to restrain a cat from scratching but to provide him with something, like scratching posts. Be sure that you will find a great selection of these cat toys for sale. Manufacturers are well aware of the cats’ needs, so they use materials for every taste and fancy – carpet, sisal, cardboard, wood, hemp, upholstery, etc. A caring owner can choose the exact materials to meet the needs of his/her pet easily. If you have not yet decided, just observe your cat for a while to find an answer. It is not so difficult to notice what kind of surface is more pleasant for a cat: vertical or horizontal, hard or soft, etc. When installing any kind of post, remember to make sure that it is steady and won’t fall over when your pet uses it. Moreover, make sure that the chosen post is tall enough for your cat. And the last but not the least thing that must be noted is that you should not get rid of a post when it gets ragged or disheveled. Remember that it looks ugly and unkempt only from your point of view – cats, on the contrary, like digging their claws into old and shredded posts.
Know your limits
Of course, having two or more cats means to have twice as much love. But, as practice shows, more cats equals more troubles and more ruined furniture. That if why you should consider such decision very carefully. You can think about getting a second cat only if you really lack another pet in the house and have enough free time and funds for a new family member. Never adopt another cat just because you think that the first cat feels bored alone. It is unreasonable. Cats, in fact, do not need company (company of humans is another thing – cats need it as much as dogs). For these reasons, before opting for more than one cat ask yourself three questions and try to be completely honest while answering them:
- Can you really afford to have more than one cat?
- Is your home has enough space for two or more cats? Can you provide each cat with his own spot?
- Cats need high-quality food, clothes, toys, a separate playground and other stuff, needn’t they?
Balance his diet
It may be surprising to know, but it is a proven fact that food directly influences cat behavior. That is why you can keep your cat from scratching by carefully planning his diet. Sounds dubious, right? However, if you feed meat to your cat all the time, he is likely to become more aggressive. So, it is better to provide him with a simple, balanced food. The question is how to choose the best food for your fluffy little friend. Well, there are hundreds of various resources available both online and offline. Just surf the net for a while and you will definitely find a lot of helpful information on how to choose the best food for your cat.
Other ways to protect expensive or antique furniture?
If you want to keep your cat from scratching too expensive or antique furniture, you can consider such options as using special chemicals or devices. For example, in pet stores, you can buy a special spray. Many cats find its smell disgusting, so if you spray this solution over your furniture, the cat won’t come near it. At least, that is what the manufacturers claim. However, in practice, cats keep scratching furniture, even if you spray the whole bottle on it. So, probably, the most reliable and cheapest way is to put your furniture in a room that is a no-go zone for your cat.
Having read this article on how to keep cats from scratching the furniture, you have probably understood a lot. Now you know that scratching is a normal cat’s behavior. Cats adore scratching and there is nothing you can do about it! They scratch things to play, exercise, mark their territory or to leave a threatening signal to other cats, besides their claws need regular sharpening. Unfortunately, such habit can cause a great damage to the furniture, carpets, sofas, curtains, wallpaper, etc. Scratching and damaging the furniture can become a reason for a headache for many cat owners. However, by following our advice you will be able to avoid all these problems and simply enjoy communication with your pet. Nevertheless, if you still need to get some tips, ask people who already have pets for advice or go to local cat trainers. These people will help you to understand your cat’s behavior better. Exchange of experience is the best teacher!