We love our cats, but we love our home and belongings just as much and rightly so, we work hard for what we have. When your cat wreaks havoc on furniture it’s downright devastating. You yell and you threaten while pointing a finger at your precious kitty as he looks at you with bulging eyes and tears through the house. Sadly, most cats have no clue why you went into a sudden fit of rage, they are simply doing what comes naturally. You can scream or cry to your heart’s content but this strategy will never work. Positive reinforcement, lots of patience, training and training aids is how to keep cats from scratching furniture. Otherwise, this behavior will become more frequent and increasingly worse.
Why Does A Cat Scratch?
To get in front of the issue and not stay behind you should know a little about why your cat is scratching. At times, you may feel like your cat has a vendetta against your furniture or your entire home, but this simply isn’t true. Scratching is a natural part of cat behavior whether inside or out and something embedded into instinct they cannot control. Some cats will prefer hard scratching material while others prefer soft and fuzzy. This depends on the cat. Take mine for instance, I have 6, out of my 6 only 2 of them love the feel of scratching the furniture. Here are a few reasons a cat scratches.
- Shed, sharpen and trim old nails
- Territorial: leave visual and scent marking (a cat has scent glands in the paws)
- Stretching and flexing their paws and nails
- For playtime
Now you know that your cat is going to scratch, why, and that it is also out of their control as well as yours it is absolutely imperative to offer your cat an adequate alternative ensuring your cat does not scratch furniture or anything else off-limits in your home. All training efforts will surely fail and ultimately be in vain if your cat has nothing but your furniture and household items to scratch. There are hundreds of scratching posts, pads, mats, and even toys on the market today to fulfill your cat’s need to scratch. You should have no trouble providing some sort of scratcher for your cat.
Honing In On Variety
As they say “variety is the spice of life”, your cat feels the same when it comes to scratching material. Variety is a must. Luckily, cat scratchers and toys come in a huge assortment of material. I advise using at least 3 different types. Here are a few choices available from retail and pet stores:
- Soft, fuzzy (stuffed toys and blankets)
- Natural (tree bark and wood)
While the material is very important, also try a variety of different style scratchers. Assorted styles can include up-right posts, flat mats, slanted, wall or door scratchers, loungers, and houses. This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list but you get the idea. A quick google search will pull up a mountain of different style and material of scratchers and toys.
What now? You’ve accumulated an assortment of great scratchers but your cat is still going for the furniture. I never said it would be that easy. Training takes time and patience and sometimes a creative flair.
Always use positive reinforcement, no matter how hard it may be. This isn’t the easiest task when your cat is ripping up your furniture but negative training is futile.
Positive Reinforcement Methods:
Speaking a firm no, then calmly move he or she away from furniture on or near their scratchers – always use this method then follow with one or both of the following:
- Treats, food – some cats do not respond to treats or food reinforcement methods
- Praise, petting
Until your cat grasps the idea this is where you might need to be a bit creative until you see results. And results will vary with each cat depending on personality and behavior.
You can try placing scratchers on or near the areas your cat is scratching. A good example is placing a scratcher up against the furniture if your cat likes to scratch the arms, sides or back. This will help deter scratching the furniture and promote using their scratcher instead.
There are several preventative products and methods you can use in conjunction with training. Spraying your furniture with a light lemon or citrus spray, using two-sided tape, self-adhesive plastic, foil, and other cat deterrent mats are all useful assistants to avert your cat from tearing up the furniture until fully trained.
Stick With It
Don’t give up, stick with it. Get your cat a variety of scratchers, use the training basics and use preventative methods if needed. This certainly won’t be an easy ride, and it may take some cats longer than others but stay consistent and the hard work will pay off.
Which training methods worked for you? Do you have more questions about this article? Let me know below.