How to Stop a Cat from Scratching Your Furniture
Floppycats reader Barbara wrote in, “I recently got a retired breeder (2 yr old) Ragdoll named Laci Rose. Laci has her claws and I entice her to the scratching post (she will jump on it, but never go to it on her own to scratch…she instead needs her paws/nails on the carpet). Can you cover in your newsletter how to address issues such as this and others that someone m a y encounter with an older Ragdoll kitty. Thanks”
I reached out to Ragdoll Rescue guru, MeLinda Hughes for some tips – MeLinda was sweet enough to write a post about it for us! Thank you, MeLinda!
Guest Post by MeLinda Hughes of Merlin’s Hope Ragdoll Rescue
When Your Cat Scratches your Furniture
So, your cat is scratching where you don’t want him or her to scratch, and keeping his or her claws short is not enough. In case, you are not certain how to trim your cat’s claws safely, here is a you-tube link:
The fact is that cats scratch. It is a physical necessity. It is not just a territorial situation; it allows them to remove the dead outer layer of their nails as well as to stretch and exercise their feet. Just because your cat is scratching your favorite couch, you should not take this personally or consider this a reason to declaw. There are a number of ways to encourage your cat to scratch in the appropriate areas.
Step 1: Redirect to Appropriate Scratching Spot
The first step is to redirect. You want to buy multiple cat scratchers and multiple cat trees. You can use the long corrugated cardboard scratchers; they are relatively inexpensive and they can be placed in areas where your cat is inappropriately scratching. You can buy the round turbo cat scratchers that have a ball around the outside. There are sisal scratchers, carpet scratch posts, faux fur scratching posts from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars. You want to put these everywhere. If you have a cat going after a corner of your couch or another area you don’t want ruined, put a cat tree there. Yes, it looks bad now, but it won’t have to stay there forever. Eventually, you will be able to move the tree, once your cat has determined appropriate scratching areas. So, put a cat tree at the end of the couch. If your cat is scratching your carpet, buy him a carpeted cat tree. Usually, cats like to scratch vertically, so buying a tall cat tree with carpet, sisal, or even real wood for the cat to scratch is a good investment. Make sure you choose one that the cat won’t tip over when scratching on it or he won’t want to use it. If it is too expensive for you to buy a cat tree, make one. Go on Pinterest or the Ikea do-it-yourself site. So, the first step is to redirect.
Step 2: Detract with Cat Repellent Scratching Furniture Spray
The second step is to detract, to make an area less pleasant for your cat. One thing you can do is put Feliway diffusers in the room where you do not want your cat to scratch. Feliway provides pheromones and helps cats remain calm. This might decrease the amount of scratching in that area. Actually, these diffusers are great for helping kitties with a range of problems. Additionally, you can use Bitter Apple spray available at Amazon.com. We can’t smell it, but your cats hate it. It is odorless, colorless, and does not stain your furniture. Cats tend not to like lemon or orange scents. You can take leftover lemon and orange peels and tuck them under couches or around plants where you don’t want your cats. You can also use citrus scents or scented air freshners.
The third step is to use Soft-Paws, a product that covers your cat’s toenails almost like a false fingernail. Usually, you will have to take your cat to a veterinarian or a groomer to have them put on as they can be quite difficult to put on. This can become expensive, but they do last for three weeks to a month, which is a good time for you to use wisely to redirect your cat’s scratching. Don’t forget to spray catnip spray on the cat tree and cat toys. Be sure to reward your cat with treats and praise when he or she is scratching appropriately.
Step 4: Distract with Puzzle Toys
Another thing you can do to keep your cat from scratching where you do not want is to make sure kitty stays busy. Many of us are gone for hours each day, which means your cat becomes bored. There are a number of wonderful books on how to keep your cat entertained, and many of the ideas are quite simple. For example, you can put bird feeders near your windows to encourage birds so kitty can spend the day birdwatching. Set up a scavenger hunt for your cat. Put kitty’s toys in catnip and then put them all over the house under pillows, in the couch, on the windowsill (near the bird feeder). Hide treats for kitty to find. Puzzle toys are also good entertainment. You put toys and treats in the box and then kitty has to work to get them out. In other words, keep your cat busy. You can buy dvds with birds, squirrels, and cats, so kitty has cat tv. Fountains also entertain cats, especially breeds attracted to water, like Maine Coons.
Step 5: Cover Furniture with Sticky Paws
Cover the furniture where the cat is scratching with something loose like a slipcover. Cats don’t like it when their scratching surface moves, so this is a good way to protect your furniture while you are redirecting. You can put sticky tape on your furniture. It is a double-sided tape that sticks on your furniture without leaving a residue behind. Cats do not like it, because their paws stick to it, and it makes them uncomfortable.
You can also put aluminum foil in areas where you don’t want the cats. They tend to not like the sound or the feel of aluminum foil.
The most important thing you need to keep in mind is that declawing is not the answer. You can do a number of wonderful things for your kitty to keep from destroying your furniture but at the same time keep your cat healthy and happy.