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How to Stop Your Cats From Scratching Your Furniture

Has your cat started scratching up your couch or other furniture? Our Franklin vets have some tips to help curb this behavior and give your cat a better outlet for its energy.

Why Scratching Is Important For Cats

Cats' claws are essential for their physical, social, and emotional well-being. Scratching is a natural and necessary behavior for them. Understanding the reasons behind this behavior can help redirect it. When cats scratch, they leave behind pheromones from their scent glands, which mark their territory and signal to other felines.

Although this behavior may seem unnecessary for indoor cats, it keeps them happy and enriched. Scratching also helps to maintain their physical health by shedding the outer layer of their claws and leaving them sharp. Additionally, stretching while scratching is an excellent way for cats to exercise. Therefore, stopping them from scratching all together is not the goal. Instead, we can work with their natural instincts and redirect them to appropriate surfaces, such as scratching posts.

How To Keep Cats From Scratching Furniture

Our Franklin vets have found some tricks to help your kitten learn where to scratch and what to avoid.

Redirect Them to an Approved Scratching Area

While there may not be a fool-proof answer to how to prevent cats from scratching furniture, there are a few ways you can encourage them to scratch locations that you approve.

  • There are various scratching posts and cat trees available both in the pet store and online. Try upright and flat ones made from various materials such as rope, cardboard, and even wood. To avoid confusion, we recommend not getting ones that resemble your carpet or furniture.
  • Place scratching posts near (or even on top of) their current preferred scratching spots.
  • Place other posts near where they spend a lot of time, such as by the litter box, next to your usual spot on the couch, or by their go-to nap spot. 
  • Make the posts more tempting by rubbing them with catnip and decking them out with your cat’s favorite toys.

Discourage Scratching Bad Spots and Furniture

After identifying the areas where you want your cat to scratch, the next step is to make their current favorite spots less appealing. While some cats may find this transition easy, others may struggle initially.

In such cases, patience will be your best tool. It's important to note that yelling, scaring, or spraying your cat with water is highly discouraged.

  • Remove or block their usual scratching surfaces wherever possible. For instance, if they scratch your ottoman, try moving it to an area your cat cannot access.
  • Cover the scratched areas with a material with an unpleasant texture, such as double-sided sticky tape or tin foil.
  • Use bumpy carpet runners or crinkly tin foil to make the spots they would usually plant their feet to get their scratch on less comfy.

Don’t worry, your couch won’t be covered in tin foil forever. These ideas are temporary; once your cat has learned, things can return to normal.

Take Care of Their Claws

Keeping your indoor cat's nails short and smooth is important to prevent damage from scratching. You can trim their nails using nail clippers or a nail grinder made specifically for cats.

However, if trimming their nails is difficult, you can use nail caps for cats. These soft plastic covers are glued onto each claw and will naturally fall off when your cat sheds the top layer of their nail.

It's important to introduce your cat to this process slowly, as some cats may not accept it. You can start by testing one or two nails first.

Why You Shouldn't Declaw Your Cat

Declawing is a surgical procedure that involves amputation of the claw and end bone of each toe in cats. This means that 1/3 of the cat's paws are essentially removed. It is important to note that declawed cats must be kept indoors since their front claws are their primary means of self-defense and escape against predators.

Moreover, declawed cats often experience chronic pain and may develop behavioral issues such as aggression or litter box problems. We strongly advise against declawing. It is essential to understand that paws and claws are integral tools for cats, both physically and behaviorally. Many declawed cats end up in shelters because they develop new unwanted behavioral issues, such as urinating outside the litter box (usually on carpets, bedding, and furniture) or increased aggression and biting.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat is showing behavioral concerns and you want expert advice, contact our vets in Franklin today to schedule an appointment. 

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Advanced Veterinary Care is accepting new patients! Our friendly and experienced vets are passionate about improving the health of Franklin companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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