One of the most common, but also one of the most annoying issues that cat owners come across is having their couches scratched to pieces by their cats. Some cats quit while they're ahead and some of them hold on to the scratching until they drive their owners crazy. Here are a few tips on how you can put an end to couch scratching, in the hopes of saving your furniture, but also your relationship with your cat.
Why do cats scratch?
Before you can take action against the annoying cat scratching, you have to understand why your cat is doing this in the first place. While it might not look that way when your cat is clawing away at your new sofa, it is actually not doing it out of spite or to annoy you in any way. Here are the main reasons why your cat is scratching your couch or anything else:
- to sharpen their claws
- to remove the dead nail tissue and cuticles
- to exercise and strengthen their muscles
- to leave a scent behind and mark their territory
How to Stop Cat Scratching Your Couch
The four reasons mentioned above are the key elements to stop your cat from scratching the couch. Essentially, your aim is to meet every one of these needs but to make sure that your cat has a better place than the couch to do them in. You should ask yourself the following four questions:
1. Where else than the couch can it sharpen its claws?
2. Where else can it keep its nails trimmed?
3. Where else can it exercise?
4. Where else can it mark its territory?
We'll answer them one by one for you so that you can keep your couch in one piece. But remember that you have to work on all of these four issues at the same time to get the best results. Fixing them one by one may not be enough, as they all have a part to play in the overall cause.
1. Find a place for your cat to scratch that it likes better than the couch
If you were thinking about offering an armchair as a sacrifice, you will be relieved to find out that it will not be necessary. To motivate your cat to quit scratching the couch, you have to get it a scratcher that it really likes.
You can go through our guide to finding the best scratching post and explore the top alternatives, but remember that it is your cat that will make the final choice. Some cats like vertical scratchers, while others prefer horizontal ones.
Scratchers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, so you will have a lot of good contenders to go through. Try to think of the fabrics that your cat likes to scratch. This will help you choose between cardboard, sisal, and rug scratchers.
Even if your cat is not particularly enthusiastic about one scratcher, try with a second one before you give up on the idea. It might not like a product, but scratchers could still be extremely helpful in your couch-scratching dilemma. Every household with a cat needs a scratcher, so getting one might turn out to be a surprisingly good experience!
2. Keeping your cat's nails trimmed on a regular basis
If you do not have a nail trimming ritual set up with your cat already, then it is time to start working on that right away. One of the simplest reasons why your cat could be scratching the couch is that its nails are too long. You have to keep them trimmed to prevent your cat from doing this itself.
When you trim your cat's nails, you have to take the clippers and simply chop off the tip of the nail. Only cut the transparent part of the nail to avoid hurting your cat. If you cut too high and get some of the pink part you see, then there will be some bleeding in the area. If this happens, take a clean cloth and apply pressure to the wound until the bleeding stops.
Keep in mind that such accidents can be avoided by using the right type of nail clippers. There are scissor-shaped clippers, clippers with handles, you can even use human nail clippers. It is important that you are comfortable with using the device and that you are very attentive when you do. There are also the Zen Clippers, which have a special design that makes it impossible for you to cut high enough to get to portion that bleeds. These are the safest nail clippers on the market.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that you have to make the nail-trimming ritual stress-free. If your cat associates having its nails trimmed with a negative experience, then it will not let you do it anymore and it will have to find another place to trim its nails on, such as your couch.
Be very patient with your cat as you trim its nails and stop when it is becoming stressful for it. This may mean that you won't get all the nails in one go, but your cat will let you touch its claws the next time you try. We also recommend doing this when your cat is napping. Before it has a chance to wake up properly, you can trim at least some of its nails, hustle-free.
Declawing Is Not an Option!
Still suggested as the foolproof method of saving your furniture from the scratching, declawing should not be an option because it is inhumane. The process of declawing is painful and psychologically damaging for your cat, so do not resort to such harsh methods for the sake of a couch!
3. Help your cat exercise
While it is not a common reason for couch scratching, one of the reasons could be that your cat is not getting enough exercise. What you can do about this is set up a playing ritual for you and your cat to provide it with a superior alternative of getting those endorphins it craves with you instead of mutilating your couch.
We know that this can be quite complicated since you are probably not home most of the day, but another thing you can do is get your cat some interactive toys. These toys can keep it entertained without you having to lift a finger.
Just plant them around the house and see what happens. Just like it is with the scratchers, there is a chance that you will not pick your cat's favorite toy from the first time. give your cat several options to choose from.
4. Give your cat a better spot to mark its territory
The likeliest reason that your cat has for scratching the couch is marking its territory. And you may be wondering why the couch is such an important spot. This is one of the places in your house that is soaked in your scent. Out of all the places in your home, you spend most of your time on the couch, the bed, and maybe some chairs, which makes them the usual suspects.
Your cat wants to leave its scent next to yours so that you know it is also an authoritative figure in your home. Do you have anything against that, aside from its choice of territory to mark? If your answer is no, then simply give your cat a good option for doing its scratching and let it know that the couch is off limits.
Please note that it is absolutely crucial that you do these things together if you want them to have an effect. You want to send out a full message - Don't mark the couch, but do mark this scratching post instead!
Step 1 - How to tell your cat not to scratch the couch
Let your cat know that the couch is off-limits by using one of these methods. You may need to try more than one before you find the one that works best for your cat.
- Double-Sided Tape - Apply the double-sided tape on the part of the couch that you do not want to be scratched. When the cat tries to scratch on it, it will not like the sticky sensation and it is likely to quit.
- Bubble Wrap - Apply the bubble wrap on the area that you do not want to be scratched. When your cat tries to do that, it will break the bubbles, which will make noise. Cats are not fond of sudden noises and it might associate it with a negative experience.
- Balloons - This is the upgraded version of using bubble wrap. Simply apply some small balloons in the area that you do not want to be touched. When your cat scratches, it will break the balloons and the sound will keep it away for a while.
Step 2 - How to tell your cat that it should use a scratcher instead
To solve this riddle, you have to think about your cat's motives. It wants to assert its authority in a place of high social importance to you. Your best possible choice is to place a scratching post or its scratcher of choice right next to your couch.
This way, you can have your entire message delivered. If you have more than one scratcher, place the other one next to your bed or another place where you spend a lot of time in. Help your cat show you that it also has a place in that space. It is as simple as that.
The Importance of Education
As we have explained in the first part of this article, getting your cat to stop scratching your couch means giving it a better alternative to the couch for all of its scratching needs. If you have a kitten, then you should teach it all of these things from the very start to prevent it from developing a particular fondness for the couch. Here are a few tips:
- Get your kitten accustomed to having its nails clipped early on and set up a routine.
- Get your kitten used to scratching posts and place them in those socially-central places in your home.
- Make sure your kitten is getting enough exercise.
- Show your cat the couch is off limits in a calm manner.
Other Alternatives for Saving Your Couch
What we have described up to this point is the long and thorough way of dealing with this issue because it addresses the behavioral pattern behind it. However, there is still a chance that it will not work. We have prepared a list of alternatives that you can use independently or as part of your plan:
Our readers have also been dealing with couch scratching and they were kind enough to share some of the solutions that have worked for them. Take a look at what they had to say by clicking through to this Facebook post below:
- Pheromone Sprays - there are sprays that come with a special type of pheromone that tells keeps cats away. The best-known product is Sentry Stop That! and all you have to do is apply it on the area that you don't want your cat to scratch anymore. Bear in mind that the efficacy of these sprays differs from one cat to another.
- Essential Oil Sprays - these sprays are similar to the ones with pheromones, but they use essential oils that make the area unattractive to your cat. A commonly used spray is the one with bitter lemon essential oil which will make the couch smell heavily bitter for your cat and make it want to avoid it.
- Covering the Couch - this is a method that worked for one of our readers. You can cover the couch in a cloth that you will allow your cat to scratch to protect the furniture.
- Applying scratching posts directly on the couch - If your cat wants to scratch the couch, then you can cover the areas it usually goes for in scratching posts. While it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing option, it is one that could fix things quickly.
As you can see, making your cat stop scratching your couch means understanding its needs and providing it with better ways of meeting them in a healthy way. Take the time to set up your plan and not only will you save your couch, but you will also set up a healthier environment for your cat!
Have you dealt with this issue? Do you have a secret weapon for couch-scratching? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!