How To Keep Cats From Destroying Your Furniture

It's a common question: how can I stop my cat from scratching my furniture? While it's natural for cats to scratch on things (like our brand-new sofas), it's safe to say they can do some serious damage if you don't provide them with an alternative. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep cats from destroying furniture; keep in mind it might take some trial and error for those persistent sofa scratchers.  Read on for some tips!

Offer scratching posts or alternative scratching surfaces.

While it might seem obvious to some, first-time cat owners might not know the importance of providing cats with safe, positive places to stretch and scratch. Scratching is an instinctive behavior and a healthy part of a cat's daily activities. Scratching is a source of stress relief, exercise, and a way cats mark territory (visually, and they by leaving their scent behind via  scent glands in their paws.) 

If your cat's a bona fide furniture flayer, the first step is to offer them an alternative: whether that is a tall scratching post, or a horizontal scratching pad. As they say: different strokes for different folks - different posts for different feline folks! Some cats prefer scratching surfaces that are tall and vertical, as they mimic the shape of the tree trunks they'd use in the wild. A scratch pad or cardboard cat scratcher might appeal to some other cats (you may notice cats scratching on carpet or objects on the floor). For this reason, it's best to provide both a horizontal and vertical scratching area for your cat to choose from.

Wild Woodland Cat Scratching Post - cat scratching on scratching posts designed to look like pine trees. Featuring the Wild Woodlands Cat Scratching Post.

Train your cat to use their scratching post.

Okay, so you've got your scratching post. Now the tricky part: getting your cat to scratch it instead of the couch.  This can be done by placing your cat scratching post near the area where kitty likes to scratch, making sure it's tall enough for him to stretch on, and ensuring that it's stable enough not to tip over while he uses it (you don't want any accidents). 

If you have an indoor cat who spends most of his time sleeping in a window seat, try placing a sturdy scratching post there so that he has something else besides your couch cushions as an option for clawing away at when he gets bored or stressed out.

If all else fails: Try bribery! Some cats respond well when given treats as incentives; others may need more creative forms of reward such as drawing their attention to the scratcher with laser pointers. Sprinkling catnip or spraying the scratcher with catnip spray can also incentivize use of the scratching post over your furniture.

Make the furniture as inaccessible as possible.

  • You can cover the areas your cat commonly likes to scratch with specially-designed furniture protectors.
  •  If all else fails, you can always try a deterrent spray. The sprays are applied to furniture and other objects that are likely to be scratched by your cat and contain a scent that cats find unpleasant.

    Deterrent sprays can be store-bought or homemade. You may have to repeat this process several times over the course of a few weeks before your cat begins looking elsewhere for a place to scratch.

Trim your cat's claws regularly so that he can't get a grip on the furniture and ruin it.

  • Trim your cat's claws regularly so that he can't get a grip on the furniture and ruin it.
  • Trim your cat's claws every four to six weeks, depending on the size of your cat and how much they use their paws to play with toys or scratch at things. Some vets recommend nail trims every two to three weeks - use your judgment for what's best for your cat.
  • Trim their nails in the same place every time so that there's no confusion when it comes time for another trimming session. You can use a cat claw clipper, or you can use human nail clippers. If you use human nail clippers, make sure that they are sharp and easy to hold onto.

    You want to avoid cutting your cat's quick (the sensitive vein running through their nails) because it will cause pain and bleeding. If you cut their quick by accident, apply pressure with some styptic powder or cornstarch on the wound until it stops bleeding.
  • If you are nervous about trimming claws (and who isn't?), ask a vet or groomer if they offer it. That way, your will cat get used to having their paws handled by strangers and won't freak out when someone else tries this in the future (or worse yet, when YOU try).

Cats are curious creatures, and they love to explore their surroundings. They have a natural urge to scratch and claw at things, so it's important that you give them something to scratch on instead of your furniture. You can also try providing more toys  in various places around the house for your cat to play with. This will give your something else to do when the urge to scratch comes on. 

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