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How to Train Your Cat to Stop Scratching Your Furniture

A close up of a kitten in a woman's lap

We know how you feel when you wake up and find a new set of claw marks made by your cat while you slept. It can be disheartening, to say the least. You probably feel that your visitors will wonder why your sofa is full of scratch marks. And now that you want to buy a new sofa, what can you do to stop your feline friend from ruining the new couch?

Here’s a brief explanation of the reasons why cats scratch and some ways to keep cats from scratching your furniture.

Why Does My Cat Scratch So Much?

Before you attempt to train your cat to stop scratching your furniture, you need to appreciate the reasons why they do this. Cats scratch surfaces to:

  • Stretch their bodies: A cat needs to stretch their muscles, and scratching enables them to do regular exercise.
  • Mark out territories: A cat has scent glands in between their paws. Anytime they scratch something, the glands release odors that allow them to create the boundaries of their territory.
  • Keep healthy claws: Scratching allows your cat to shed the old layers on the tips of their claws. This keeps the claws sharp and healthy.
  • To relieve stress: Scratching allows cats to ease tension, and it prevents them from developing bad behaviors like defecating carelessly.

What Are Some Ways to Keep Cats From Scratching Furniture?

While cats may need to scratch to stay calm and healthy, you don’t want them to damage your furniture or other precious belongings anymore. If your cat is scratching your furniture, here are some ways to stop this behavior:

  • Get some scratching posts and toys:  Offer your cat at least one acceptable scratching surface. Make sure you choose posts that are strong, stable and tall, with a material, like sisal fabric, that encourages your cats to scratch. This is very important, because if your scratching post doesn’t have a cat-friendly surface, then they may ignore it.
  • Position your scratching posts: Put the posts in areas where your cat loves to play or rest. These are areas like the family room and spots near windows. Cats like stretching and scratching after waking up, so put one near their usual sleeping area. Also, place one near the furniture they like to scratch. All posts must be in conspicuous places where your cat can use them to mark their territorial boundaries.
  • Discourage the cat from scratching couches and other furniture: You can do this by tucking a sheet around the scratched section to stop the cat from reaching it. You may also use aluminum foil or double-sided tape to cover the area. Another method is to spray the couch with a citrus scent as cats dislike the smell of citrus.
  • Encourage your cats to scratch the posts: Sprinkle catnip or spray honeysuckle on the posts. This will attract the cat and make them more interested in scratching the posts. You may also play with a wand toy near a post and then place the wand toy on the post, so the cat discovers the post and scratches it.
  • Redirect bad scratching: When you catch your cat scratching where they should not, make a loud noise to distract them and redirect them to a scratching post. Offer positive reinforcement when they scratch a post, such as catnip or treats.
  • Maintain your cat’s claws: Another important way to limit scratching is to maintain your cat’s claws. Unmanaged claws can grow into your cat’s paw pad, causing pain and sometimes infection. Clip your cat’s claws every few weeks to keep them from overgrowing.

Declawing Your cat is not a good idea

 

Can I Declaw My Cat?

Though cat scratching can be a troublesome issue, declawing your cat is not a good idea. Many pet owners mistake declawing for an easy, harmless fix. In reality, declawing your cat can cause serious, long-term issues. The Humane Society of the United States opposes cat declawing, except in the rare case of a cancerous nail bed tumor.

There are many reasons not to declaw cats and kittens. Cat scratching is a natural behavior, and cats rely on their claws to feel safe and secure. Declawing is not a harmless trim — it’s the amputation of each toe’s last bone. It’s the equivalent of cutting off each finger at the last knuckle. This is a serious operation offering no medical benefit for the cat. In fact, it can harm the cat in multiple ways. Declawing your cat can lead to the following issues:

  • Physical pain: Declawing causes pain in the paw. This often lasts beyond a normal surgery recovery period. Many cats have ongoing pain after declawing. Not being able to stretch their muscles while scratching can also cause muscle pain.
  • Infection: Having a major wound on each toe presents a high risk of infection. Many cats face painful and life-threatening infections after they’re declawed.
  • Bone spurs and nerve damage: Because removing claws is an invasive operation, errors can occur. Many cats experience painful nerve damage and bone spurs.
  • Aggressive behavior: Cats use their claws to defend themselves. A cat with no claws is likely to feel unsafe often, which can lead to aggressive, self-defensive behavior. Declawed cats may be more likely to bite.
  • Refusal to use the litter box: For at least a week or two after the declawing surgery, cat owners have to replace litter with shredded newspaper, since litter will irritate the cats’ wounds. The unfamiliarity and pain when scratching in the box cause some cats to avoid the litter box long-term. In this way, declawing can reverse house-breaking.
  • Lameness: Long-term pain and other complications of declawing can render cats lame for life. Some retain a long-term limp.

In short — it’s not worth the risk. Declawing may seem like an easy way to stop scratching problems, but it causes a slew of other, more serious issues. You may have heard of tendonectomy, an alternative to traditional declawing. This procedure involves severing the tendons in each toe that control the claws. This is just as dangerous and painful for the cat as declawing, and is not recommended.

Instead of giving your cat a painful, risky and detrimental medical procedure, work with your cat to stop unwanted scratching. Cats need their claws and need to be able to scratch. By encouraging your cat to use scratching posts and maintaining your cat’s claws, you can eliminate bad scratching.

What Can I Do if My Cat Won’t Stop Scratching?

If you have applied all of these tips and your cat doesn’t stop scratching furniture and other undesirable surfaces in your house, you should use nail caps. These are usually made of vinyl, and they protect precious surfaces from damage.

Contact Us Today

For more information on how to stop your cat from scratching furniture in your home, please give us a call at 941-355-7707, or fill out our contact form! And if you live in SarasotaBradenton or Lakewood Ranch, bring your cat to our AAHA-accredited facility to enjoy our compassionate vet care. Book your appointment online today!