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cat scratching

How to cat-proof your furniture.

Cats need to scratch. They need to sharpen their claws and it is also thought to be a way of marking out their territory, something that, once started, they need to continue to do. Try as you might, you will not stop a cat from scratching - and nor should you to try to - instead you need to find ways to ensure that they only scratch certain areas, ideally not your best furniture. Try the following ways:

 *Scratching post*

Cats should always have at least one scratching post, especially if they don't go out. It may be hard to get a cat to approach a new scratching post, mainly because their smell won't be on it, but try to persuade them to use it by any means that you can. You could also try something else, such as a cardboard box if that is what they prefer - although bear in mind that your floor will constantly be covered in bits of shredded cardboard. 

*Sprinkle cat-nip in scratching areas*

Designate certain areas for your cats to scratch. This could be a piece of carpet, or a scratching post, maybe even a wicket basket if they have one that they particularly like (and you don't mind being destroyed!). Sprinkle it with cat-nip to attract the cats, so that they learn to go for those particular areas. After a while, they should use them naturally and you can relax a little more. 

*Let them outside*

If you don't already let your cats outside, then consider doing so. They will automatically head for anything they can scratch - hopefully something wooden - and will get some of it out of their system. This doesn't mean that you won't need to look for solutions within the home as well, but it may lessen the problem. If you have wooden garden furniture and fences, you may need to think of ways to protect it. 

*Trim claws (but don't de-claw)*

Particularly as cats grow older, they may have a problem keeping their claws short, even with scratching. This means that when they do scratch, they cause more damage to furniture and carpets. Consider taking them to the vets to have their claws trimmed. Don't, however, consider de-clawing them completely - that can affect their mobility and cause them great emotional distress. 

*Try products*

There are a number of products on the market that aim to stop cats scratching - try them by all means to see if they work for you and your cat. Some are sprays that emit a smell to stop cats approaching the area. Others leave a sticky substance; cats don't like stickiness on their paws and so will avoid the area. You could even try something as simply as a water spray - although of course, you need to be around to catch the cat to use that method. 

*Cover areas you don't want scratching*

If the areas that are being scratched can be covered, then try doing that - you may need to secure the cover to the piece of furniture to stop the cat from getting underneath. In time, they should get the message. You could even try something as simple as tape - this could be particularly useful for the edge of a sofa or a bed. 

There are a number of ways to encourage cats not to scratch furniture; however, not all will work for your cat, so you will have to experiment. The key is to remember that punishment will not work. Your cat will not understand it and it may damage your relationship in time.

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