By their very nature, cats love to claw furniture and anything else they think would be fun to rip up. I swear, our first two cats, Skittles and Snickers, thought that every new piece of furniture was bought with their scratching pleasure in mind. They were mild-mannered by day, furniture scratching terrors by night. Oh, and let’s not forget how they used to scratch the bedroom door – all.night.long unless we let them in the room with us. Although it shouldn’t have surprised me, getting cats to stop scratching furniture is a lot more difficult than you might anticipate. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you know that too!
Thankfully, there are some sure fire ways to keep a cat from scratching up your favorite new furniture – or your walls…and the door…and the screens. Trust me, as a cat owner too, I feel your pain! But, you can put a stop to furniture and wall scratching with these helpful tips. Clawing can sometimes be a difficult habit to break but fear not! Help is here. I’ve even linked to some of our favorite anti-cat scratching tools below!
Why Cats Scratch Furniture
Before we start talking about how to get them to stop, do you know why cats scratch furniture in the first place? Well, in the wild, cats sharpen their claws on trees and similar surfaces in order to stay fit for survival. It was a survival instinct that has been passed down from generation to generation. Lucky us. In the home, their claw-sharpening antics only get them in trouble and leave you with scratched up sofas and claw marks in your walls.
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What Keeps Cats From Scratching Furniture
The Scratching Post
Sometimes simply providing a suitable place for the cat to scratch can help tremendously. A scratching post made from coarse fibers will do. There are plenty made with sisal-type fibers that work well. For the ambitious type, a cat tree would not only quell the cat’s scratching issues, but also provide him or her with a great place to expend energy.
Some cats may not like vertical posts but may enjoy a horizontal scratch pad. My cats love to shred up the cardboard horizontal scratching boxes like this one, but my dogs also like eating them, so we had to switch things up.
Adding catnip to the cat tree or post will attract the cat to the area and encourage her to do her destructive clawing behavior in the appropriate place instead of the furniture. Never force the cat to use the post or tree because scaring the cat will cause him or her to be afraid of it. In other words, let your cat discover the scratching post on his or her own instead of trying to make him claw it – no matter how frustrated you are!
Trimming a Cat’s Claws
Clipping a cat’s nails is not as daunting as it sounds. Okay, yes it is. Depending on your cat, you may need to wear multiple layers – including a parka and never, ever attempt to do it alone. If you do, you’re much, much braver than we are!
Most cats have clear nails that are relatively easy to cut. By gently squeezing the cat’s paw underneath its toes, the claws will come out enough to see all the way to the pink quick inside the nail closest to the flesh. Carefully clip the tips of the cat’s claw with trimmers designed for cats. Be sure not to cut too far because if the quick is cut, the cat will bleed.
If clipping the nails seems too risky (either for the cat or yourself), try a nail file. Trimming or filing may seem counterintuitive at first but cats need to shed layers off their nails and they do so by scratching. Trimmed claws in combination with a scratching post or cat tree will help reduce any damage that may be occurring to furniture.
Spray the Cat with a Water Bottle
Just as it sounds, fill a spray bottle with water and wait for the cat to start scratching the furniture. Do not spray the cat before he or she gets to the furniture or after the cat has finished scratching. Catching the cat in the act is the only way to make this method work.
Cats have small brains, they don’t understand consequence or anticipation. Spray only enough to cause the cat enough discomfort to run away. Try not to drench the cat – no matter how annoyed you are! Repeat until the cat learns that scratching that piece of furniture means soggy fur.
Go MacGyver: Cats Hate Aluminum Foil
If those simple tips are not enough for the cat, trying a more clever approach may be necessary. Affix a piece of regular tin foil to the afflicted area of the furniture the cat scratches the most.
Cats absolutely despise the sound that aluminum foil makes, driving them away from the area. Replace the foil as needed until the unwanted behavior stops. Yes, your furniture will take on a silvery, crinkly glow, but it’s for the greater good. Just be sure to remove it before company stops by.
Assault the Senses: Cayenne Pepper and Cats Do Not Mix
In the event the cat thinks tin foil is a fun toy instead of a deterrent, hot pepper powder will not be so playful. Cayenne pepper will not permanently harm a cat but it may cause discomfort temporarily. Apply pepper powder near the area the cat has been clawing. The cat will investigate then learn that that area is now a place of pain. This method should only be used in desperate situations because it is not pleasant for the cat.
The pepper may leave a residue on your furniture, so it might be best to combine it with the aluminum foil and place a little bit of cayenne on there instead!
Never Declaw or Use Nail Caps
Declawing a cat is the equivalent to cutting a human’s fingers off at the first joint. The cat will have great difficulty doing normal things for a while after the procedure. The cat may not be able to defend itself if it ever goes outside.
Nail caps like Soft Claws and Soft Paws seem like a great idea until it’s time to apply them. Cats do not necessarily enjoy having their nails trimmed and they certainly do not like the noxious glue and uncomfortable plastic fittings on their feet.
The real issue with nail caps is that once they begin to grow out a little, the cat will get tangled in fabrics, blankets, carpet, rugs, or whatever else it can get hung up in. If no one is home and the cat gets hung on something, there is a good chance the cat could break a toe trying to free itself.
Hopefully these helpful tips will encourage the cat to stop clawing furniture. Trying different combinations of these methods can be more effective than using one at a time. Don’t give up! Your furniture is counting on you!