Tired of having to patch up your sofas? Thinking of locking up your “purrpetrator(s)” after catching them red-pawed? Look no further for the solution(s) to your problems…
BUT FIRST! In order to stop this claw-ry behaviour, we need to understand why our furry felines like to use the furniture to scratch in the first place!
Why is scratching so important to cats?
Scratching is a normal cat behaviour and there are a number of reasons why they perform this activity daily.
1. Scratching allows cats to use their claws to mark their territory
2. Scratching allows cats to groom their claws – the claws have multiple layers and scratch to remove the most outer layer that is worn
3. Scratching is almost like kitty yoga – the action and movement that cats perform to scratch ie full body stretching horizontally and vertically allows them to exercise their back muscles
4. Scratching allow cats to destress
It is therefore important to emphasise that this behaviour should be redirected rather than eliminated.
Okay, so how do I redirect this behaviour?
Just like humans, cats love having choices in their food, toys and even litter, so unfortunately there isn’t a one size fits all. Unlike outdoor cats who can scratch until their heart’s content on tree trunks and stumps, indoor cats need a scratching pole/gym as an outlet to mirror this behaviour. However as owners, we generally don’t get the right scratching post – too often we get something that’s either too short or too unstable and leave them in the wrong places like the spare room!
Similarly to property, it’s all about location, location, location when it comes to scratching. The location at which the cat is repetitively scratching, is essentially a message being left by the cat telling their owners ‘THIS IS WHERE MY POST SHOULD GO’! The scratching posts should ideally be placed where the owner and cat love to hangout together.. For example places near the bed, couch, window should encourage them to use the post.
What should I be looking for in a scratching pole?
When considering the type of scratching post, it is important to keep 4 things in mind – SHAPE, STABILITY, SIZE and SURFACE of the post. All four of these factors play an important role in getting your cat to use their post.
SHAPE – Cats tend to scratch their claws both vertically and horizontally, thus owners should provide a variety to suit their needs.
STABILITY – ensure the post is heavy and stable enough to carry the weight of the cat to allow them to feel safe and stable whilst stretching out to scratch. Cats can be easily frightened and if the post is not stable enough to hold them, it may be well enough to scare them from using it!
SIZE – should be nice and tall vertically or wide horizontally to allow them to get that full body downward dog stretch!
SURFACE – should be of an abrasive material such as sisal, natural wood or even something as simple as cardboard!
It would be recommended that the post be not of a similar texture or material as carpet as this is rather best suited to snooze time than scratching! If anything, this may encourage them to illicit unwanted actions instead such as scratching the carpet!
What if my cat is still scratching the furniture?
If your cat is still playing the stubborn game, implementing deterrents such as double sided tape, aluminium foil or citrus scents will provide a more smooth, less friction surface which may do the trick in making your furniture less attractive to cats to scratch on!
Is there anything else I can do to stop the scratching?
Besides looking squishy and like beans, a cat’s paw pad has a substantial amount of nerve endings and as such, are highly sensitive to their paws being touched. However just like training your cat to use the scratching pole, we can also train and reward them to tolerate having their paws touched and nails trimmed. Combined with proper and frequent (1-2 weeks) nail trimming, short nails will definitely be far less destructive and a blessing to your furniture.
And you are probably wondering… what about nail caps such as softpaw that you may see around in the pet store or even your local groomers? Well if you think about it, it really isn’t fixing the cause of the problem (scratching your furniture). It is more so acting like a band aid to the issue at hand, making it only a short term fix.
If after all these steps have been taken and have not been able to stop your kitty from scratching your furniture, I would suggest you contact your local vet for further investigation as there may be other factors causing this behaviour, such as environmental stress (new cat or dog, moving houses), and anxiety.
Reward, reward, REWARD!
Remember to reward and praise the behaviour you are trying to nurture – when you see your furry friend use the post – make a big deal and celebrate – treat them with the good stuff! Reward the behaviour to solicit the positives!