Do you know what a horror it is to see your cat turn the armrests of your favorite comfortable chair into ribbons? We feel your pain. We also know why cats itch and how to redirect their behavior in the right direction.
Why Do Cats Itch?
Why do cats scratch furniture and carpets? Even worse, why do cats scratch the walls at night? We are used to constantly mumbling these questions in one breath, and if you are reading this…you probably figured it out.
The good news is that there are logical reasons why cats dig their claws into the soft surfaces of your home. Once you understand them, you can find ways to make this classic cat behavior less painful for your furniture.
Cats like to mark their territory, and this is exactly what your home is for them. Every swipe of your cat’s claws leaves behind scratches and pheromones from the aromatic glands on her paws, which will allow any visitor to the feline to know exactly who it is—you know, just in the matter you start letting the neighborhood cats visit your salon. Even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense for domestic cats, it’s a natural behavior that makes them rich and happy.
Scratching is also good for the body health of cats! The cat’s claws shed their outer layers as they grow, and scratching helps to remove the old layers and leave the claws underneath sharp and ready for action. We also all know that cats like to stretch well, and reaching all the way to the top of the scratching post gives them just that. A good stretch and scratching may even be a way to show their satisfaction, which may explain why your cat scratches when you pet her.
The fact is that scratching is good. The goal is not to prevent them from being completely scratched (and certainly not to avoid scratching them, which is painful, unnecessarily peril and incredibly tiring for a cat). Instead, we will show you how to prevent cats from scratching furniture, guided by their natural instincts.
How to deal with cat scratches
Redirect to approved cleaning areas
In truth, you’ll never stop a cat from scratching—you can’t activate your instincts! Instead, the main thing is to encourage the cat to scratch scratching posts and other places where a person is allowed to be (that is, not on your couch).
Get a variety of scratching posts and cat trees for them —try straight flat poles and various materials, including rope, cardboard and wood. (Consider skipping the carpeting racks, as it can be confusing if your cat can scratch the carpeting there, but not in the rest of the house.)
Place messages next to (or even blocking) their current preferred cleaning points.
Put other poles next to their favorite hangout spots—next to the toilet tray, next to your usual place on the couch, or next to their place to sleep to stretch out well after waking up.
Make the pillars seductive by rubbing them with catnip and decorating them with your cat’s favorite toys.
Prevent Scraping Of Bad Spots
After you’ve suggested the best places to scratch, the next step is to make their old targets less attractive. Some cats can easily switch to their scratching posts, but these tips will be necessary for cats that scratch everything except the rack.
It is important to note that we do not recommend shouting, scaring or spraying the cat when it scratches. If necessary, you can remove them from their place, but if you scold them, they can associate scary things with you, and not scratch them. You can stop Google searching for homemade sprays so that cats don’t scratch furniture, and use a much less aggressive approach!
If possible, remove or block their usual scratching surfaces. For example, if they scratch your speakers, temporarily turn them to face the wall.
Cover the scratched areas with an unpleasant texture, such as double-sided adhesive tape or aluminum foil. If it’s not nice to scratch, they won’t scratch it.
Use uneven carpet paths or crumpled aluminum foil to make the places where they used to put their feet to get scratched less comfortable.
Don’t worry, you won’t have a sofa covered in aluminum foil forever. All these changes are temporary, and you can wean your cat by leaving her old habits and starting to scratch in the best places.
Take care of those claws
It’s a good idea to reduce scratch damage if your cat’s nails are short and smooth. You can use nail clippers designed for cats or a nail sharpener to keep their nails trimmed. Read our complete guide on how to trim cat claws here.
You can also try applying cat nail caps after a nail clipping session. These soft plastic pads are glued onto each claw and naturally fall off when the top layer of the nail peels off. They are painless and prevent most of the damage caused by scratches, but some cats don’t like having their claws covered and they will do their best to apply this feline manicure right away. You will need to test your cat’s tolerance and respect her boundaries if she continues to opposite after several attempts to use nail caps.
By compromising between what you want and what your cat needs, you can improve the relationship with your pet, and the furniture will be so spotless and scratch-free that visitors won’t even know they were in the cat house-you know, without any fur.