Do I Stop My Cat From Scratching My Furniture?
not only like to scratch, they have a biological
urge to scratch. It’s a natural behavior; they don’t need to be taught how – just
where. According to the book Cat Be Good, by Annie Bruce, scratching
strengthens a cat’s chest, back, stomach, and shoulders. This exercise
releases physical and emotional stress. Cats might scratch because they
are bored or frustrated. Make sure they get plenty of exercise
and attention. See Cats and Exercise for more information.
Provide cats with enticing alternatives to
your furniture, such as scratching posts
or trees.There are many types of scratching
for cats. Some prefer carpeted surfaces while others prefer a shredable
material, like sisal textile. Most cats prefer a vertical surface that
allows them to fully stretch their bodies, ideally at least 28 inches
tall. A vertical scratching post must have a secure base so it won’t
tip over. Some cats prefer horizontal scratching surfaces such as the
cardboard scratching boxes that are available at most pet supply stores.
The best way to encourage a cat to use the
new scratching post is to place it in the
cat’s favorite area. This might be where she was
scratching the furniture or where she likes to sleep. Make scratching
a pleasant experience; sprinkle catnip on the scratcher and praise the
cat copiously when she scratches in the correct place. Cats usually scratch
after waking or eating; gently place her by the post at these times,
but don’t force her paws on the post. Wiggle a toy near the post
so she bats it and praise her as soon as her paws touch the scratcher.
Cats learn quickly, especially with positive reinforcement.
As for the furniture . . . cover the areas
that were scratched. If the cat was an avid
furniture shredder, cover as much furniture
with slippery, vinyl-type material to discourage her presence on it.
Never yell at the cat or spray her with a water bottle for scratching
inappropriately. This only teaches the cat to fear water bottles and
the person operating them; it doesn’t teach the cat to stop scratching
the furniture. A quiet, but firm, “no” is enough. Then gently
carry the cat to her scratcher. Try to avoid reprimands altogether, though,
by encouraging use of proper scratchers.
It is a good idea to have multiple scratching posts, even for a single
cat. It might take some trial and error to determine her favorite type
of scratching material and placement. Scratchers should never be blocked
by obstacles or difficult to access. The easier access she has to a scratcher,
the less likely she is to use the furniture.
Types of scratchers:
Cat Posts – These are good for working the upper body, taller is
better; available in a variety of materials and textures. Find them in
pet stores, department stores, and via the internet.
Cat Trees – These are tall scratching
posts, usually with platforms or pedestals
on which cats can lie; the height helps work
upper and lower
body. Find them in pet stores and via internet
Tree Limb – Find a long tree limb four to six inches thick with
rough bark; secure it in an upright or slanted position by leaning it
against something solid or leave it lying horizontal on the floor.
Other – Scratch pads made out of corrugated
cardboard are designed to lie flat on the
floor; these should be used in addition to
not as replacements.