Love your cat, but hate the fact that he tears up all your furniture?
It's natural and good for cats to scratch. So what you should focus on is just better managing what your cat scratches up. There are some simple things you can do to stop your cat from
scratching or clawing on your furniture. Here's 3 tips to try:
1. Give Your Cat Something Better To Scratch
It is ideal to train your cat early to not scratch the furniture. As
soon as you get your cat or kitten home, you should quickly stop your
cat if he starts scratching anything and move him to the scratch "safe
zone" . And if you have had your cat for awhile, it is never too late to
retrain your cat.
Scratching is a healthy practice for cats, but it's a good idea to give your cat a designated area to scratch instead of scratching up your home. I call this the cat sratch zone. It can be small, large or all over the place but it should be clear to the cat where it is ok to scratch.
In the safe zone, think of providing places that cats can sink their claws into like scratching posts, boards or furniture. There is a large variety of options for scratching posts, furniture and toys. They range from simple pieces of cardboard to elaborate and amazing structures. Only your imagination and budget will limit the options for your cat.
Finding What Works
To be successful in getting your cat to scratch his stuff and not yours, you should try to figure out what you cat will like and use. Before you go and buy a scratcher or two, try to study your cat a bit to see if you can try to predict what your cat will like.
If your cat tends to scratch furniture legs or door frames, buy a piece of wooden cat furniture or a cedar scratching post. If your cat seems to prefer scratching softer surfaces like your rugs or couch, buy a carpeted post or cat tree. Does your cat tend to like scratching up or scratching down? Depending on what he likes, you may want to look for something horizontal or vertical. What type of surfaces or materials does he seem to like? If you are not sure, you can give him a few samples to play with and see which he seems to prefer.
Also, if you have a large house, you may need two or more scratchers to keep your cat entertained. A variety of scratchable posts for different areas of the house would be ideal. (If you want to see a wide variety of cat scratch posts, check out our article on 15 Best Cat Scratchers - From Fun to Fabulous.)
If you are not sure what your cat prefers or if he seems to want to scratch anything, try a general good scratching post like Smartcat Scratch Tower. It will have a rough and scraggly surface, similar to rope. It should closely resemble the feeling of bark to your cat, like what would be found in the wild.
If you can afford it, it would be best to buy your cat a good cat tree like Armarkat Cat Tree. These are a little pricier, but can yield better results than a standard scratching post.
Many cat scratchers are ugly or not that attractive. If looks are important to you, I found several really great looking cat scratchers that I recommend.
Just remember that you need not get an expensive scratching post, just make sure to have some available and that investing in higher quality typically yields better results. You can also create your own DIY cat scratchers and save money.
Don't get discouraged when trying out scratchers. If you are not successful with one scratcher, it does not mean you cat won't use any. So try a few as different cats like different scratching surfaces and designs.
Place Scratchers Close To Problem Areas
Place your cat post next to the places your cat seems to scratch at the most. With any luck, your cat should switch from clawing the furniture to clawing the cat post. If your cat responds well to cat nip, you can put it on the cat post to encourage him to use it. I always have a cat scratch post right next to the couch. Makes it easy for the cat to use that and he prefers it when given the choice of both a couch and a good scratch post.
Encourage Your Cat To Use The New Scratch Post
If your cat does not seem to be too interested in the new scratch post, don't force your cat into using it. You don't want him to be afraid of it or avoid it. Make it appealing instead.
Toys can be a great tool in trying to get your cat to use a scratching post. Try attaching a toy to the top of it, or buy a scratching post that already includes a toy. If your cat is hesitant to use the scratching post, he might instead end up playing with the toy, which will help your cat to get comfortable with the post and eventually use it. ( See 3 Great Cat Spring Toys.) There are even scratchers that are toys that you can use. I like this cat scratcher toy.
To make it appealing for the cat and get him used to scratching the new scratcher you just bought him, also try adding a small amount of catnip to it.
When you cat uses the scratcher, praise him and lavish him with some extra affection so that your cat will know you like him more when he uses the scratcher.
2. Use Tapes And Scents
Tapes and the right scents will drive your cat away from certain areas so he won't scratch them.
Cats don't like sticky things, so if their regular scratching place is sticky, they won't want to scratch there anymore. Try placing double-sided sticky tape on the areas that your cat regularly scratches to prevent him from scratching there again. He'll likely switch to the non-sticky option: his scratching post. Tac-On tape can also be a good option. (Look for something like this at your local home improvement store since the delivery charge for this is way too high).
Cats are appalled by citrus scent, and you can use this to your advantage. Consider creating a citrus spray with citrus and water and spraying it on the areas that your cat likes to claw. Or a great natural citrus spray to buy is Citrus Pure. You can also place citrus air fresheners around your cats favorite furniture to keep your cat away and your place smelling fresh.
3. Trim Or Cap Claws
Trimming or capping your cats claws isn't as detrimental to your cat as declawing, and can reduce the damage your cat does to the furniture.
If you decide to trim your cats claws, be sure to start young. Use a really good cat claw trimmer or toenail clippers should do the trick. Be sure to consult a vet or do some research first to learn the proper way to trim your cats claws without causing him any harm. A good starting point is this article on how to trim your cat's nails.
It's possible to buy cat claw caps like Soft Claws For Cats that you can have your vet apply or learn to apply yourself. You can buy these in natural colors, or in more vibrant "fashionable" colors. Claw caps will fall off naturally after about six weeks or so. So if you want to save money and avoid regular trips to the vet, it is worth it to buy some and see if you can put them on your cat yourself.
With these methods, your furniture will certainly suffer a little less damage. Also, did you know there are things that help keep your furniture a little safer? You can find Cat Scratching Furniture Guards that protect your furniture legs from cat claws.
What methods have you used to keep your cat from clawing the furniture?
Created March 2015 and updated December 2015.