4 Steps to Protect Your Furniture From Your Cat’s Claw
Cats are notorious for their love of scratching and clawing, regardless of the breed. It’s in their DNA. When they have the opportunity, they will scratch anything in their path. The furniture, carpet, and even upholstery are juicy targets for a satisfying claw-in at home.
If you want to keep your furniture free of those unsightly claw marks, you need to do something about it.
You can’t stop a cat from scratching, but you can certainly divert her scratching to something else, like a scratching post or some corrugated cardboard, for example. Or you can ‘fence-up’ with furniture shields like those transparent vinyl guards or double-sided sticky tape to deter clawing. But you may not like the latter because they can be an eyesore.
So what’s the best way to prevent the little ones from damaging all the furniture in the house? Let’s discuss.
Why Cat Scratch?
Once you understand why cats love to scratch, you will do the right thing to prevent the destructive scratching from their sharp claws. And you will not want to change or stop the cat’s scratching habits.
So scratching, said the cat behaviorists, is a natural cat behavior that all cats will display when experiencing anxiety, excitement, or simply wanting to feel good.
And more to that, scratching helps keep their claws sharp and healthy by removing the dead layer of the husk. Also, scratching is a way for cats to mark their territory with a scratch mark and scent release from the scent glands in their paws. This tells other cats that ‘this is my turf, so buzz off.’
Therefore, it is never good to stop or constrain the cats from scratching, including declawing. Instead, let them have their day by providing more attractive places and alternative scratching surfaces to stretch and scratch. Then they might find the house furniture less alluring for their claws.
But how do you make a hardcore furniture scratcher stay away from the furniture?
Do This 4 Things to Save the Furniture
Never try to do a ‘cold turkey’ to suppress the bad furniture scratching habits. Instead, provide better and healthier alternatives that actually encourage scratching and maintaining its claw health. At the same time, apply behavior-changing techniques like using deterrent spray and cat scratch tape to help them stay away from the furniture.
1. Variety of Surfaces
Cats love to scratch, so it is important to give them an appropriate place with a scratching post or surface. All good cat scratching posts should be sturdy and tall enough for your cat to stretch up on its hind legs and covered in sisal rope, cardboard, or carpeting material.
And remember to place the sturdy post at a location they frequent, even if it is right next to the furniture they love to scratch. If you will, provide a variety of scratching posts of different surfaces to fully satisfy their scratching needs.
2. Territorial Instinct
Scent the scratch posts with catnip and place her favorite toys on or around the posts. Make it a point to offer treats and meals only at this location as much as possible. After a while, the cat will associate with the location as the go-to place to feel good or destress.
If need be, create several such locations in the house as the cat’s territory. Scratching is also how a cat marks its territory, remember? And once they have developed the territorial instinct for these places, they are less likely to venture to where your expensive speakers, teak sofa, mahogany cabinets, etc., are located.
3. “Smelly” Furniture
What smells good to you might not be pleasant for your feline friend. So get a citrus-scented spray or other scented cat deterrent spray and apply it on or around your furniture. Now your furniture absolutely “stinks,” no cat will ever want to go near.
Highly recommend using the citrus spray because cats have a natural aversion to the scent of citrus.
The cat will self-impose an out-of-bound limit to these places in no time. Then the scratching post location becomes exceptionally attractive and will be the preferred location for your cat to hang out for a satisfying scratch.
But of course, if you don’t mind how your furniture looks, a more permanent solution is to install plastic protectors like those vinyl panels or cat scratch tape on the furniture. So you don’t have to use the cat scratch spray regularly and save some money.
4. Preventive Measures
Lastly, if you wouldn’t mind, use deterrents if needed. In some cases, even with proper training and management techniques, cats may still continue to scratch furniture out of habit or boredom. In these cases, using deterrents such as double-sided tape or scratch tape near the areas where they usually scratch can help discourage this behavior without causing any harm.
Along with all the steps above, you can further reduce the destructive nature by doing a bit of claw maintenance. It is important to trim their nails regularly. If your cat’s nails are too long, they may scratch furniture again when the deterrent spray wears off. Regular nail trimming will help reduce this behavior while keeping them healthy and sharpened for hunting purposes.
If you have a kitten, train them early on. Kittens are more likely to learn new behaviors easier than adult cats – including not scratching furniture! Start training your kitten as soon as possible by placing their paws on the designated scratch post and rewarding them with treats when they use it correctly.
And consider keeping some soft nail caps handy if you need to temporarily prevent the cat from returning to its old habits while repairing or replacing the scratching posts.
What Kind of a Scratcher is Your Cat?
It may not be practical to have too many scratching posts in the house, especially for those staying in apartments with limited free space. So, understanding the cat scratching behavior is important to provide only the right type of scratch post.
Obviously, if your feline buddy is a vertical scratcher, a tall and sturdy post may be enough for her. Or you can get a wall-mounted scratchboard to free up some floor space.
And what is the solution for a floor scratcher?
There is no lack of options for a horizontal scratching post out there. Even a floor mat made with sisal fabric is a great option as a scratchpad.
The bottom line is, it pays to observe the behavior of scratching and preferences. So that you can provide the right scratching surfaces your cat can accept readily. But keep a constant watch for changes in behavior that might change their preferences. Switch scratching post material or type accordingly to suit.
How Often Do You Need to Change the Scratch Post?
A scratching post is meant to be abused by all the clawing. So in no time, it will look worn out and become more of an eyesore. You can replace it with a new one any time after all most of them are not all that expensive. Otherwise, it is also not difficult to repair or DIY one for replacement.
But how often do you need to change your scratch post?
Some people suggest every 3 to 4 months, but it really depends on the post type and material. Certain materials will last longer than the others; for example, a sisal post will easily outlast one made of cardboard.
So a practical suggestion here is to evaluate the extent of the damage and if your cat is beginning to lose interest in it. The latter indicates that it is not getting the kick out of the scratch anymore; the post surface has probably become too fleecy, soft, or flaky – not an acceptable scratching surface anymore.
Over time, you will have a sense of the durability of different post types and materials and replace them before the furry guy looks elsewhere for a much-needed scratch.
Why Declaw is a Bad Idea and What Are the Alternatives to Declawing
There is a lot of debate surrounding the topic of declawing cats. Some people argue that it is a necessary procedure to protect furniture and keep cats safe. In contrast, others believe that declawing is harsh and cruel to a pet. So, what’s the truth? Is declawing a good or bad idea?
The answer to this question is not as clear-cut as you may think because it involves suppressing one of the cats’ natural behavior.
On the one hand, there are valid reasons why someone might choose to declaw their cat. For example, if you have an indoor cat who spends most of its time scratching furniture or carpets, then declawing could be a good solution. On the other hand, there are several very good reasons you should never consider getting your cat declawed.
First and foremost, declawing surgery can be extremely painful for cats. In fact, it’s often compared to having your fingers chopped off at the knuckle – not exactly a comfortable experience. And it is against the law in most US cities.
Second, many people don’t realize that declawing does nothing to stop cats from scratching. Cats will still instinctively scratch objects they see as theirs (including humans), regardless of whether their claws have been removed surgically.
Third, because declawing is an extreme surgery, there is always risk involved in any surgical procedure – even if it’s considered “routine.” The highest risk is an infection, which can be hard to prevent with the limb wound that is highly prone to contact due to movement.
Finally, many alternatives are available to those who want to prevent their cats from scratching furniture or carpets without resorting to surgery. These include providing alternative scratching opportunities and behavior modification techniques.
And if nothing seems to work for you, get in touch with a cat behavior consultant in your area instead of thinking to declaw such an adorable animal. Or, if things get too overwhelming for you to handle that you have thought about giving it up, consider rehoming your cat.