It is perfectly natural and necessary for your cat to scratch. It can help them stretch their bodies and flex their feet and claws, but it also helps them to shed the dead outer layer of their claws, or mark their territory thanks to scent glands on their paws.
But indoor cats can wreak havoc on your beloved furniture pieces. It can seem like you need to discourage your cat from scratching, but the real goal is to get your cat to scratch acceptable objects and avoid unacceptable objects.
If you need to divert your cat’s scratching, here are some tips to get you started.
When trying to get your cat to stop tearing up your furniture, you have to give them an alternative first. You can find all kinds of different scratching posts, so you might want to try out a few different materials to see which one your cat likes the most. Some cats might prefer cardboard, while other cats like rope or carpet instead.
Make sure that your scratching post is stable and tall enough to allow your cat to fully extend while scratching. They get the most benefit from being able to stretch out their back and shoulder muscles, and stretching is one of the reasons why they scratch. They may not find a smaller scratching post as comfortable, and not use it like you want them to.
Keep your kitty’s claws in check to help prevent them from tearing into your furniture. Trim your cat’s claws every two to three weeks. Make sure that you are only trimming the white part of the claw. The pink part that is further up is called the quick, and that’s where there are nerves and blood vessels.
If possible, start this when your cat is still a kitten, and go slow and reinforce positive behavior with treats. If your cat is absolutely against letting your trim their claws, try enlisting the help of a veterinarian or a professional groomer.
Try to make their favorite spot on your sofa undesirable so that they won’t want to scratch there anymore. You can cover it with materials like foil, plastic, or double-sided sticky tape. There are even products on the market that you can stick to the furniture made to deter cats.
You can also try spraying the area with a mixture that cats detest. One option is a mix of equal parts water and apple cider vinegar. Another option is mixing water, lemon juice, and eucalyptus oil. With either mixture, put it in a spray bottle and apply liberally to the area you want your cat to leave alone.
When your kitty scratches on the new scratching post instead of your furniture, praise the good behavior with a treat. You’ll have to consistently keep up with this for a few weeks in order for it to stick with your cat. Cats respond better to positive praise.