Cats are unique in that their nails are sharper and more curved than any other mammal. They are also carnivores, so in the wild, this would help them grip their prey. Now that they are domesticated, sometimes that prey becomes your furniture. Cats scratch for a variety of reasons. This includes marking their territory (both visually and with scent glands in their pads), to stretch, and to sharpen their nails. But not to worry, with patience and training cats can coexist very nicely with that 2000-dollar couch. Here’s how:
– Train your cat to use a scratching post instead of your furniture.
– Try different scratching posts to see which surfaces they like.
– Make sure the posts have a wide base and are stable enough for the cat to stand up and pull down on the post.
– Spray the posts with catnip if your cats like this smell.
– Attach dangling toys to entice them around the posts.
– Play with your cats around the post.
– Praise your cat or give them a food reward after they use the post.
– Put scratching posts in locations where your cats like to scratch. Many cats like to scratch when they first wake up so if they sleep with you put a post by your bed.
– Train your cat to stay away from your furniture by putting aluminum foil, bubble wrap or double-sided tape on the furniture where they scratch.
– Spray your furniture with lemon cleaner. Cats usually dislike the smell of citrus.
– Kittens tend to use their nails more than adult cats so start working with your kittens as soon as possible.
– Most cats can be trained to use a scratching post instead of your furniture: don’t give up!
– Use loud noises or a squirt bottle with water to discourage your cat from scratching the furniture. Repetition is important.
– Trim your cat’s nails on a regular basis. Your vet can show you how.
– Try Soft Paws. These are plastic covering for your cat’s nails that you can buy from your vet.

Remember cats have a natural instinct to scratch. This is a very normal behavior and with a little bit of guidance, you can teach your cat to scratch their posts instead of your furniture.

By Karen Doc Halligan