How do you train a cat not to scratch furniture?
My colleague asked me this question a day after she got a cat for the first time.
Most new cat owners scratch their heads on how to solve this problem, so I decided to lend a hand.
Below you’ll find tips on how to stop a cat from destroying your furniture.
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How do you train a cat not to scratch furniture?
Bad scratching habits should be nibbled immediately. Once Kitty gets comfortable with sharpening her claws on carpets, sofas, walls or shoes, it will be twice as hard to make her stop.
And while some people would say that you can’t train a cat do something she doesn’t want, you can save your furniture. Just follow these tips.
#1 Understand why cats scratch
Do you know why your cat likes to scratch your furniture?
It’s not because she is trying to get back at you for something or wants to destroy stuff.
- It feels good
- It’s a way to mark their territory visually
- They are sharpening their nails
- They are stretching their muscles
- It relieves stress
What I’m trying to show you is that scratching is normal behavior and it’s unavoidable. If you don’t want your furniture, carpets, and walls to get damaged, you have to provide an alternative.
#2 Buy a scratching post
So, as soon as you observe that your kitten is eyeing a sofa or an armchair as a sharpening tool, go and buy a scratching post.
It sounds easy, right? I wish it were.
Different cats like different textures. So, your furbaby won’t be satisfied with any cat post you buy for her. It has to feel right beneath her claws, or she is not going to look twice at it.
In addition to this, the scratching post must be the right size so that Kitty can stretch those muscles well.
If it’s too small or it feels unstable, Kitty is going back to her favorite sofa or that nice, long table leg.
My advice is to observe what your cat likes to scratch and get her something with a similar texture.
If you’re not sure, consider sisal because it’s similar to tree bark. But be prepared to try a couple of different options.
#3 Teach the cat to use the scratching post
After you’ve brought the scratching post, place it around Kitty’s favorite scratching areas. You can entice her to check out the new acquisition by spraying it with catnip.
It’s possible that Kitty will walk away from the post after sniffing it for a couple of seconds. Do not despair.
- Wait for her to start scratching something she shouldn’t, for example, the armchair rest.
- Pick her up and take her to the scratching post.
- Place her paws on the surface and encourage her to dig her nails into it.
- Give her a treat and praise her.
- Repeat as often as need.
You can also encourage the cat to use the scratching post by dangling a toy near it or placing treats on the top platform.
However, don’t bother spraying Kitty with a bottle or yelling at her when she goes back to the armchair.
Cats associate the spraying and the shouts with your presence.
So, they won’t do whatever you’re “punishing” them for as long as you’re around. But when you’re at work, they do as they please.
#4 Make the furniture unappealing
Another critical part of training a cat not to scratch furniture is making her favorite scratching place unattractive. You can do that by:
- Using sprays that repel cats or use homemade ones
- Covering up the sofa/armchair with nylon
- Cover the armrests with double-sided tape
The point is that once her favorite surface doesn’t feel right, Kitty should redirect her scratching to the post you’ve so generously provided.
#5 Trim the nails
I know that it sounds like a hard job, but once you get your cat used to the procedure, it’s a piece of cake.
Moreover, trimming the nails means that they are less likely to get stuck on something and cause an injury.
Some people also suggest using nail caps in addition to nail trimming. These caps are plastic covers, which you put over the nails to prevent the cat from scratching the furniture.
I have such caps at home, but I never use them for two reasons:
- I’m afraid that the cat might swallow one accidentally.
- Scratching is a way for cats to relieve stress and if they can’t scratch, they might do something worse.
#6 Don’t declaw
Declawing a cat is the cruelest thing you can do to your cat. It’s a painful procedure, and a lot of cats have behavior problems afterward.
Owners don’t realize it, but claws are an important defensive mechanism for the cat. Without claws, a cat will bite when it feels threatened.
As a result, your feline will get more aggressive and stressed.
This procedure should be a last resort when you have exhausted all other options, and you can’t find another home for your feline friend.
Finally, remember that when all is said and done, furniture is replaceable. So, do not get so angry when your cat destroys a couch or an armchair.
Just find the time and patience to teach her where it’s appropriate to sharpen her claws.