Tips to help your cat stop scratching the furniture

“Claws are a vital part of every cat. Scratching, for a cat, is not only a natural act, but a necessary one as well- you should never declaw your cat! Scratching helps your cat to keep his/her nails clean, healthy, and sharp; stretches his/her shoulder and neck muscles; and de-stresses them. Here are some tips on how to get your cat to stop scratching in unwanted areas in your home:

1. Provide appropriate places for your cat to let out his scratching instincts are critical for long term behavioral success. We recommend not only a scratching post, but several, depending on how many areas he likes to scratch on already. For instance, if he goes for both arms of the couch, then that’s where you will want your posts at the start.

Cat “furniture” or “trees” are beneficial in many ways, one of which is to provide a common marking post in multi–cat households. When you shop around at the pet shop, make sure you are looking for furniture that cater to your feline friend’s preferences. There are inexpensive horizontal cardboard scratchers for carpet–lovers, wedge shaped cardboard ramps for cats who scratch low on furniture, and upright posts or “trees” for cats who like that full–body hang–from–the–claws feeling. The material that the post is made of is also important. Many cats prefer the feel of a sisal rope–wound post, and natural wood is also desirable in that it closely mimics what they’d like to scratch most of all — a tree!

Once the new piece of cat furniture is in your home, rub it with catnip, or dangle your cat’s favorite toy from the top, creating a game which encourages your cat to mimic the motion of scratching. Your lavish praise will also help create a positive association with the act of scratching the cat furniture.

Test Drive the new cat furniture. Remember that to fully exercise his upper extremities and get a good stretch, the cat must have enough confidence in the post to put all his body weight into it. If the post has too small or too insecure a base, it will wobble or tip as he pulls, eroding his confidence in the post and leading him back to that nice solid furniture.

2. Preventative methods

The following methods will help break the cat of the habit of scratching inappropriate objects (your furniture) by removing the pleasurable component and replacing it with something not quite so nice.

These include things like: 

tin foil covering the spot,

double-sided tape like Sticky Paws or

spray a mixture of water and lemon on the furniture (not on your cat), cats find citrus scent unpleasant.

But remember, to always provide an alternative surface to redirect your cat. If you catch the cat in the act of scratching in the undesired spot, make a sound like nah or a quick “ah!” but nothing that she can interpret as punishing sounds associated with your voice. Don’t use your cat’s name while you are trying to modify the behavior, the cat will be sensitized by his name will not be able to differentiate. His / her name is only used in conjunction with praise. Especially at first, it is important to follow the modification with a trip to the post, where the cat has an opportunity to earn praise and again make positive connections with the experience of scratching in the right place.

If the cat is having a hard time accepting the post, try daily sessions where you make the sound with your fingers of scratching on the post, accompanied by praise, and an irresistible treat to reward the cat as soon as he performs the desired action. Timing is important! The positives need to be heaped on the cat while he/she performs the action; a nanosecond later and they’ll have no idea why you are praising them. they’ll like it, but he won’t get the message.

Be patient; incorporating this new behavior into their routine may take a few months without having any “slips”.”

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