What’s the best way to check if someone owns a cat? Well, aside from checking his clothes for cat hair, you can take a look around his home and see if he has any tattered sofas, torn-up drapes, and scratched wooden furniture. If he does, it’s highly likely he has a cat — specifically, a cat who loves to scratch.
This might seem funny to non-pet owners, but cat lovers can attest to the fact that their pets’ scratching habits are far from cute. This is particularly true when they destroy antique furnishings as well as brand-new ones — causing hundreds of dollars in damage.
Fortunately, if you own a cat or are planning to buy/adopt one, you can take some steps to properly manage his scratching tendencies.
WHY DO CATS SCRATCH?
The first thing you should do is learn why your cat loves to scratch things. It’s not about getting back at you because you accidentally stepped on his tail or ignored him when he wanted to be petted. Rather, it’s about doing something he was born to do.
Scratching serves several purposes for your cat. It helps him keep his claws in great shape by removing older and more frayed claws and exposing the newer and sharper ones underneath. It also allows him to leave his visual and olfactory markings on your furnishings, marking them as his territory and informing other animals in the house about his territorial boundaries.
Scratching is also a form of exercise for felines. It’s their way of stretching and toning the muscles in their paws, legs, shoulders, and back, keeping themselves healthy.
HOW TO MANAGE CAT SCRATCHING
When you realize scratching is just one of your cat’s primal instincts, you’ll see that there’s nothing you can do to stop it (and that you shouldn’t even be stopping it in the first place). What you can do is to discourage your cat from scratching your furniture and destroying them to bits. You can achieve this by taking the following steps:
Call out your cat
He has to understand that scratching the furniture isn’t allowed in your home. One way to do this is to startle him when he approaches the furnishings he loves to scratch. Cats don’t like to be startled, and over time your pet will come to connect your furniture with negative experiences and won’t want to scratch them.
You can always yell, “No!” at your cat, but this isn’t really effective since he can associate the unwanted noise with you and will learn to scratch when you’re not at home. He might even grow to become fearful of you.
So, instead of yelling, find other ways to stop your pet before he starts scratching. Throwing a can of pebbles in his direction (not at him) is a good way to startle him. If you have the budget, consider getting a motion sensor, connecting it to an ultrasonic noise maker, and installing the contraption on your cat’s favorite scratching sofa or chair.
The device will emit a noise as your pet approaches the furniture, scaring him and eventually teaching him to stay away.
Provide a scratching post
Don’t just stop at startling your cat. To make him permanently forget your furniture, you should redirect his attention to other things that he is allowed to scratch. One of the best alternatives is a scratching post, which, as its name implies, is specifically built and designed to withstand your cat’s sharp claws.
By giving your pet this product, he’ll have a place where he can safely unleash his scratching instincts, and you can save your beloved furniture from destruction.
Protect your furniture
Old habits die hard, even among cats. So, even when your pet already has his own scratching post, he might still get tempted to go back to your furnishings simply because he’s used to this idea.
To prevent this from happening, you’ll have to proactively protect your sofas, chairs, and tables. Place double-sided tape on the surfaces where your cat loves to scratch, or if you have the time and energy, cover the furnishings with plastic covers before you leave the house.
If all your special furniture is in one room, close the door at all times so your pet won’t be able to enter it and wreak havoc on your important pieces.
Trim or cover your cat’s claws
As mentioned above, cats need to scratch things to remove his old and worn claws. You can assist him with this by having his claws trimmed on a regular basis, which can help reduce his urge to scratch.
You can also cover his claws with nail caps, which are made of plastic and can be glued on to cat claws to prevent felines from destroying furniture. If you’re not sure how to trim and cover your pet’s nails, don’t worry since you can always get the help of your pet groomer and veterinarian.
Furniture scratching is one of the uglier parts of owning a cat. Fortunately, by taking the steps above, you can minimize or even eliminate furniture scratching while still allowing your pet to do what Mother Nature meant for him to do.