Cats are known for their habit of scratching furniture, carpets and other items around the house. It’s a natural behavior that helps cats to keep their claws healthy and sharp by removing the outer layers of their nails.
Photo by Daniel Zopf on Unsplash
Unfortunately, it can also cause considerable damage to your home. Stopping your cat from scratching is essential if you want to protect your belongings and maintain a peaceful relationship with your feline friend.
Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture
While there are several reasons why cats scratch furniture, the main one is to mark their territory.
Cats have scent glands in their paws and when they scratch something, they leave a scent behind that tells other cats this area is theirs. Cats also use scratching as a way to stretch their muscles and keep their claws sharp.
How To Stop Cats From Scratching Furniture?
Scratching is a natural behavior for cats, but not one we humans particularly enjoy when it happens to our furniture.
Thankfully, there are several ways to help your cat stop scratching the furniture and redirect their energy onto more acceptable items.
Providing a perfect scratching post is important to deter your cat from scratching furniture, carpets, and other items. Here are some tips for picking the right scratching post:
Make Sure It’s Tall Enough For Your Cat
It should be approximately three times taller than your cat when she stands upright with her front paws on the floor.
Choose A Sturdy Material Like Sisal Or Carpeting
The scratching post should be tall, heavy and stable; it shouldn’t tip over easily when your cat uses it.
Place The Post Near Items That You Don’t Want Your Cat To Scratch
Cats generally prefer to scratch on vertical surfaces, so placing the post near a wall, sofa, or other item is a great way to redirect her scratching behavior.
Encourage your cat to scratch the post by sprinkling catnip on it or dangling toys from strings attached to the top.
Praise and reward your cat when she scratches the post instead of furniture or carpet.
If your cat continues to scratch furniture or other items, try covering them with double-sided tape or aluminum foil to deter her. You can also place a scratching post directly in front of the item you don’t want scratched.
Above all, don’t punish or yell at your cat for scratching inappropriately. This will only make them more stressed and anxious, which can lead to more unwanted behaviors. Instead, provide them with a comfortable and safe place to scratch and be patient while they learn the right places to do it.
Should I Trim My Cat’s Nails?
It is important to regularly trim your cat’s nails in order to discourage scratching behavior.
Not only does this help prevent damage to furniture and other belongings, but it can also minimize the risk of injury from sharp claws.
You can either take your cat to a professional groomer or purchase an at-home nail trimmer specifically designed for cats.
Can Nail Trimming Hurt My Cat?
No, trimming a cat’s nails does not hurt them, as long as it is done correctly.
To properly trim your cat’s nails, you should only cut the tip of each nail (clipping too far down can be painful for the cat). When cutting your cat’s nails, make sure to use a pair of sharp, cat-safe nail trimmers or scissors. You should also be sure to provide plenty of treats during the process to keep your cat calm and relaxed.
How To Safely Trim A Cat’s Nails?
When it comes to trimming your cat’s nails, the key is to be gentle and patient.
Start by holding your cat securely in one arm while using your other hand to gently press the top of each paw pad until each nail extends out. Then, use a pair of scissors or clippers specifically made for cats to carefully clip the white tip of the nail.
Avoid cutting into the pink area of the nail, as this can cause bleeding and pain for your pet.
What Rewards To Offer?
Positive reinforcement is key when it comes to changing a cat’s behavior. You can reward your pet with treats or affection when they don’t scratch or when they use a scratching post instead.
For cats that are more motivated by playtime, consider using interactive toys as rewards to reinforce good behavior.
Use Deterrent Sprays Or Scents
One way to discourage scratching behavior is to use deterrent sprays or scents around areas that you don’t want scratched.
There are some commercial products available, but you can also make your own with vinegar mixed with a few drops of essential oils such as lavender, citronella, eucalyptus, or peppermint.
Spray the mixture around areas you don’t want your cat to scratch. The smell is unpleasant to cats and can be enough to discourage them from scratching the area.
Can Medical Conditions Cause Excessive Scratching Behavior?
Yes, medical conditions can cause excessive scratching behavior in cats.
Common medical conditions that may lead to scratching include fleas and allergies, skin infections, mites or lesions on the skin, and underactive thyroid glands.
If you suspect your cat is exhibiting signs of a medical condition, consult with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Talk To Your Veterinarian If The Scratching Behavior Persists
If your cat’s scratching behavior persists after trying home remedies and behavioral modification techniques, it is a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about causes for the excessive scratching.
Your veterinarian may be able to suggest other treatments that could help with the problem. In some cases, medical issues are causing or contributing to the scratching.
It is important to note that scratching can also be a behavioral issue, so talking to your veterinarian about the possible causes for excessive scratching and exploring all treatment options is recommended.
Your veterinarian may suggest medications or supplements as part of an overall approach to treating the problem.
Should I Seek Out Professional Help From A Certified Animal Behaviorist?
If your cat’s scratching behavior persists despite your efforts, it may be beneficial to consult with a certified animal behaviorist.
A professional can evaluate the situation and suggest appropriate interventions tailored to you and your pet. They should also be able to provide instruction on how to properly train and manage your cat’s behaviors safely and humanely.
A certified animal behaviorist can also recommend other strategies like environmental enrichment, toys, playtime and more to help reduce stress and boredom that may be triggering the scratching. They may also provide medication or pheromone therapy if needed in order to alleviate anxiety.
The most important thing to remember when trying to stop your cat’s scratching behavior is that with patience, understanding, and consistent effort, you can find an approach that works best for you and your pet.
With a little bit of time and effort, it is possible to successfully manage and even stop your cat’s scratching behavior.
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