Why do cats scratch furniture?
It is completely natural for a cat to sharpen it’s claws. In the wild a cat needs it’s claws to hunt and catch food and for climbing and protecting themselves. Scratching also helps keep the claws in top condition and helps remove the transparent sheath that grows over the claws. It is also a territorial instinct. Many wild cats mark trees with their claws.
Cats have scent glands in their paws and use this to mark their territory. Scratching also makes your cat feel good, as they scratch they also stretch (improving muscle tone) and they love to do this especially just after they wake up.
How do I stop my cat scratching the furniture?
One thing is absolutely certain. You will never stop a cat from scratching but you can divert his claws from your sofa, furnishings or carpet to something more appropriate. It is relatively easy to stop your cat scratching your furniture. First you must buy or make him a scratching post.
What kind of scratching post to I need?
If you are handy you can make your own scratching post. If not there are many scratching posts available that can be purchased in a price range of $10 up to over $500
Another choice is a Scratch Box. They are catnip impregnated, strong corrugated cardboard boxes which can sit on the floor or be attached to the wall if you want to save room. Because of the enticement of catnip once the cats begin to use the box they will not scratch anywhere else. A scratch box will last around five or more months, depending on how much an individual cat scratches
How do I train my cat to scratch the scratching post or scratch box?
To train your cat to use a scratching post instead of scratching your furniture is a lot easier than you think.
Don’t assume that all you need to do is place the scratching post in the room and the cat will automatically use it (although some cats may do this) First, place the scratching post as close to the area where the inappropriate scratching is taking place. Then wait and watch.
Whenever you see your cat scratching the furniture tell him NO… or AH-AH in a firm voice, then gently pick him up and take him to the scratching post. Do this is a very gentle way so as not to scare him. Place his paws on the scratching post and simulate scratching. Praise him and tell him ‘Good Kitty’ and stroke him to make it an enjoyable pleasant experience. You will have to be diligent at first and try to catch him in the act of scratching your furniture.
Never punish him for scratching inappropriately but praise him well when he does the right thing. It’s all about reward and pleasant experiences.
Over the coming weeks reinforce this acceptable behavior with praise whenever he uses the scratching post on his own and keep up the NO or AH-AH when he scratches the furniture.
Cats are smart. Most cats will learn to use the cat scratching post within a few days.
Remember… no punishment for inappropriate scratching other than a verbal reprimand and lots of praise and stroking for scratching at the post.
Under no circumstances consider declawing. Read this article about declawing