You have just bought a brand new couch that cost you two arms and a leg. When the sofa arrived, you noticed that your cat was looking at it rather excitedly.
Chances are, he’s not interested in how it looks but it would feel under its claws. Past memories of your cat tearing up your previous furniture have gotten you worried about this one.
Is it possible to stop your cat from scratching your furniture into oblivion?
Training your cat to not scratch your furniture is all about setting boundaries as early as possible. It takes a lot more patience and effort to train a cat than a dog. But it can be done. Most importantly, you need to use the correct training techniques that work better on cats.
In this article, we will be looking at the various reasons why your cat likes scratching your furniture and what you should do to put a stop to it.
Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture?
Cats are not innately destructive in nature. They don’t go around scratching furniture just for the fun of it nor is it considered a weird behavior in cats.
A cat scratching an object in your house is done so for good reasons.
Helps Them Stretch And Destress
Working out and exercising are good ways for us humans to destress and strengthen our bodies. The same thing applies to cats.
When a cat scratches, the action helps to stretch and strengthen its joints, muscles and tendons throughout the body.
Scratching is also a good way for them to destress after a long ‘hectic’ day of sleeping.
Marking Their Scent
Cats love leaving their own scent, marking territory where ever they go. They do this by rubbing their faces on things, scratching and spraying urine.
There are scent glands in a cat’s paws that help them mark the object that the cat is scratching.
Leaving their scent on things helps them be in control of the territory which calms them down.
Don’t be surprised to see your cat scratching your new TV to try and claim it as its own private property.
Maintain Their Claws
Just like how we have to cut and trim our nails, cats have to do the same thing.
Many years ago, cats didn’t have the luxury of having their claws trimmed at the groomers.
Cats scratch to ensure that their claws are kept healthy and in good shape. A cat’s claws are designed to shed.
The outer sheath will come off when they scratch exposing a fresh one underneath.
Do All Cats Scratch Furniture?
No, they don’t. It largely depends on the preference of the cat. Some cats prefer to scratch your carpet. If you have trees in your garden, some cats enjoy scratching that too.
The problem arises when your cat thinks that it is ok to use your furniture as a scratching post.
Such unwanted scratching can be redirected and rectified.
How To Train Cats To Not Scratch Furniture?
It might seem like a fruitless endeavor but getting your cat to stop scratching furniture is actually straightforward.
Think of it as training a child which requires patience and time on your part.
If you have to leave your cat alone at home during the day, you don’t want your cat shredding up your couch while you’re gone.
Here are some effective ways to prevent it.
You Are The One In Charge
When it comes to pets, you need to assert your dominance as the leader of the household and show them who is in charge.
Especially so when it comes to cats.
Cats have a way of making their owners do their bidding even without us realizing it.
Maybe that is why there’s a saying which goes “Dogs have masters and cats have slaves.”
Studies have shown that cats have an intellect of a 2-year-old child hence we need to be stern with them.
If you see your cat scratching using your furniture as a scratching post, tell it to stop in a stern tone of voice and remove the cat from the object.
They might not understand the word but they can see the displeasure in your tone.
After a few or numerous times of doing this, the cat will start to realize that they should not be scratching that or risk getting scolded.
Get A Scratching Post
Scratching posts are a godsend when it comes to stopping your cat from scratching your furniture.
Get a scratching post tall and sturdy enough to handle the full verticle extension of your cat.
If your cat is still a kitten, get a scratching post that can be used when it is an adult as well.
Whenever you see your cat engaging or about to engage in some furniture scratching, use a stern ‘No’ and carry your cat to the scratching post.
If your cat isn’t familiar with the scratching post, you can hold on to its paws and mimic the act of scratching on the post. It should get the message after a few attempts.
If you live in a bigger apartment, it would be good to have a few scratching posts placed near the furniture that your cat is attracted to.
Trim Your Cat’s Claws
If you have ever noticed your cat’s claws before, they are ridiculously sharp. A few scratches can cause irreparable damage to your furniture.
It might not be possible to catch your cat scratching your furniture all the time.
So in order to lessen the potential damage, you should keep your cat’s claws trimmed.
Get a nail cutter from the pet shop and make it a point to trim your cat’s nails once they start to get sharp.
Be careful not to cut beyond the quick of the nail as that can cause some bleeding.
Here’s a story of me cutting my cat’s quick.
I was trying to trim the back claws of my cat’s left paw and he doesn’t like being groomed at all.
So after some struggling, I managed to trim off some and felt that it was good enough.
He sauntered off to sleep on my dining table and I went to the kitchen.
5 minutes later when I walked back, I found blood trials and spots all over the dining table.
Let me tell you, nothing can make your blood turn cold faster than seeing unexplained bleeding around your cat.
The first thought that came to mind was that he was bleeding from his mouth or nose.
Thankfully it wasn’t and I realized it was coming from his paw.
Had to clean it up well and stop the bleeding with some corn flour.
Praise Your Cat
Pets respond well to positive reinforcement as do most cats.
Whenever your cat uses the scratching post instead of the sofa, give it lots of praise and pets.
Feel free to also give your cat a few of its favorite treats as well to further enforce it.
When praising your cat, try to do it with a higher pitch of voice. Cats respond better to high pitch tones as compared to lower ones.
Or you could try meowing back to your cat to see if it understands.
Use Furniture Protectors
If you are still in the early stages of training your cat to stop scratching your furniture, a couch protector might be a worthwhile investment.
Some couch protectors are made of safe materials that deter cats from scratching the furniture.
It is a good way to prevent your couch from being torn up.
The couch protector won’t prevent your cat from jumping on the couch and scratching it but at least your sofa will still look intact and new when you remove it.
Use a Vinegar Spray
A vinegar spray can also act as a good repellant to keep your cat off the furniture. You are NOT supposed to directly spray the cat with it but to use it on the furniture surface.
To make the spray, mix 1 part of apple cider vinegar with 3-4 parts of water in a spray bottle.
You might want to test spray a small area on furniture that is made from sensitive material like leather or suede to make sure it doesn’t bleach or stain the surface.
If all is good, give a few good squirts on the furniture. This method works well if you need to leave your cat alone without any supervision.
The only downside about this method is that your home won’t smell very pleasant until the vinegar dries up.
Marbles In A Can
This is something that I have used to great effect to train my cats. All you need are some marbles and an empty soda can.
Drop the marble in the empty can and seal up the opening.
When you catch your cat in the act, shake the can near it and that should be enough to make it go away.
Cats aren’t fans of loud noises hence will associate scratching the couch with loud noise and stop doing it.
Getting your cat interested in toys instead of the couch can be a good way to keep your furniture in good shape.
Toys that are interactive in nature where the cat can chase or bite make a good distraction.
What Not To Do When Training Your Cat?
Training your cat can be hard work and it would be good to be mindful of what you should not be doing.
Don’t Scream Or Shout At Your Cat
Seeing your favorite or expensive furniture get torn up by your cat can make you lose your cool.
Take a few deep breaths and walk away for a while before training your cat.
Don’t shout or scold it in an aggressive manner. A stern tone is usually a good enough vocal deterrent for your cat to stop scratching.
If your cat is afraid of you, it makes training your cat a lot harder
Do Not Physically Abuse Your Cat
The same rule applies here as above. Walk away for a moment when you find yourself losing it or notice fresh scratch marks on your couch.
Don’t hit or throw things at your cat.
You will regret it deeply if you harm your cat out of anger.
Do Not Give Up On Your Cat
It is important for you to understand that training a cat isn’t as easy as training a dog. Cats are a lot more stubborn and averse to orders.
But it can be done with the right training methods and patience.
Do not make the decision to give up or rehome your cat just because of this problem.
Can I Declaw My Cat?
There’s no reason that you should even consider declawing your cat unless its life could be in danger if you don’t.
Some cats have cancerous growth in their nail bed which makes declawing a necessary procedure.
Otherwise, it should not be seen as a quick and easy fix to prevent your cat from messing up your furniture.
Declawing is not just about removing the claws but amputating the cat’s toes that are attached to each claw.
Declawing cats can have negative long-term effects on their well-being.
Many cats rely on their claws as a form of defense and without them, will start to feel defenseless and stressed when declawed cats have nothing to defend themselves with.
The procedure itself is very painful for the cat and the pain doesn’t disappear even after the wounds have healed.
This will definitely affect your cat’s quality of life.
Scratching is part and parcel of any cat’s behavior and we can’t fault them for it. It isn’t hard to stop your cat from scratching furniture but it does take a fair amount of constant reminding.
Scratching posts and furniture covers are great items to have while your cat is in training.
It won’t take long before your cat stops treating your favorite couch as its scratchpad.