Cats are generally low-maintenance pets that provide lovable, furry companionship. However, not every part of owning a cat or a kitten is easy. As with any pet, you take on many responsibilities when you adopt them. These include giving them exercise, feeding them, and brushing them. You also have to work with them on any behavioral problems that they have. You need to have patience and willingness, as there’s no such thing as the perfect pet.
One of the most destructive and irritating behaviors that a cat can have is when they use their sharp little claws to scratch up your furniture. Why is your cat scratching your couch, and how do you stop this negative behavior?
This article covers the reasons that cats scratch, declawing your cat, the methods that you can use to control the behavior, and the steps to go from scratched couches to scratching posts.
Cats and Scratching Behavior
The best way to deal with a negative behavior in any pet is to understand why they do it. If you can redirect that focus or change the need for the pattern, then it is generally a much faster process.
Cats are natural scratchers. It is essential to understand that you aren’t trying to train out their instinct to scratch, you just want to redirect their attention away from the furniture.
In the wild, they need to scratch to give themselves a natural manicure, removing the dead layer from their claws and keeping them sharp. Domesticated cats don’t have quite the same needs, so why are they still interested in scratching?
Should You Declaw Your Cat?
The easy solution for many cat owners over the last several decades has been to declaw their cat. Then, they literally can’t scratch the couch.
However, declawing a cat is a painful and challenging procedure that can present many future problems for your cat and you.
The procedure to declaw a cat involves amputating the last bone on each of their toes so their claws will never regrow. It is the same idea as taking off each of your fingers’ last segments so your nails would never grow back. You would still be able to use your hands, but you would have less finger length and no nails.
Since cats walk on their paws, it changes everything for them. It makes it more difficult for them to walk and jump because it is much harder to balance than before. The surgery is also rife with possible complications.
Declawing has been banned as an inhumane act in many countries and made illegal throughout various cities in the U.S.
Although declawing or not is still your choice as a cat owner, there are other methods that you can use if you want to train your cat to not scratch your couch and other furniture.
Methods to Stop a Cat From Scratching Your Couch and Other Furniture
We start with a few methods and different kinds of products that people often use in the training process. Often, these are only necessary during training. Once your cat learns where to direct their scratching, you won’t have to worry about continually wrapping or spraying your furniture.
1. Use cat-scratch tape.
Cat-scratch tape is useful for making furniture unappealing to your cat. Felines are texture-sensitive, especially on their paws. A cat enjoys scratching. They do it partially because it feels good
Putting cat-scratch tape on furniture makes it unappealing for a cat to scratch. You should put it right over the spot that they usually target, so their paws will run across it as they go.
Remember that all cats are different. Some hate the feeling of the tape, while others won’t mind it. Luckily, it is a small investment to make even if the trial doesn’t go ideally.
2. Put socks or nail caps on their feet.
Instead of removing your cat’s claws entirely, you can protect your furniture by temporarily dulling them. Nail caps cover their sharp nails and effectively blunt them. They can still use their nails, but they won’t be destructive.
You can use adhesive with the caps. That way, you can slide one over each nail, and it will stick on for longer.
Some people like the translucent caps so they don’t make their cat’s paws look odd, while others prefer vibrant colors so it is easier to find them when they fall off.
Nail caps are excellent while you work through the training process because it lowers the risk of anything happening to your couch while you and your cat work through the process.
3. Use cat-scratch spray.
One way to get your cat to avoid the furniture is to use cat scratch spray. Spraying it on an area will help them limit their destructive scratching or make them want to avoid that piece of furniture.
4. Install vinyl panels.
Directly protect your couch by temporarily installing vinyl panels that cover the sides of the furniture. Putting these around the furniture will not look great, but you should only have to do it while you train your cat.
Vinyl panels make the sides of your couch inaccessible to your cat’s dangerous nails. Even if they do try to scratch, nothing should happen to the fabric on the other side.
5. Provide them a scratching “outlet.”
Finally, it is essential to provide them an outlet to take their scratching out on. Even a cat that has been declawed will continue to try and scratch, demonstrating that it is an ingrained and entirely natural tendency.
Scratching posts are the most common outlets that people give their cats and are essential to their training.
- Related read: 5 DIY Cat Scratching Posts You Can Build Today
How to Stop a Cat From Scratching Furniture
Whenever you train a behavior into or out of one of your pets, you must have patience. It can sometimes take a while to change and redirect an instinctive action, especially if you waited a while to do anything about it.
Stopping and starting your training will exponentially increase the time that the process takes. Trying something once without positive results is not indicative of the result. Instead, try something consistently for a couple of weeks before attempting something new. If you notice any positive behavioral change, even a small one, then reward it.
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Featured Image Credit: Magdanatka, Shutterstock