by Petar Petrov
Cats are great pets. They love to play, they love to cuddle when you are watching TV or sleeping, and they purr for no reason other than being near you. But they also love to scratch. Unfortunately, the things they love to scratch are often the legs of your antique table, your upholstered sofa, or your expensive carpet.
Although many humans do not appreciate when their cats scratching, you have to know that kittens and cats do not scratch to make us angry, they just need to scratch. Scratching is a natural hardwired behavior in cats, just like breathing and purring, and every cat owner must know WHY THE CATS SCRATCH.
In the wild, cats scratch around their immediate environment to signal their presence to other cats and to claim the area in question. The marking takes two forms: visual and olfactory. The visual is in the form of clawing marks and is so obvious that even we humans can recognize it. The olfactory mark is subtler, involving the release of pheromones. These are substances secreted from the body to be picked up by the number of the same species, causing them to alter their behavior.
Scratching has additional function too. It removes the nail sheaths, outer layer of dead cells from the claw. You might thing your cat scratches to sharpen her claws, but it more likely it provides her with a form of physical therapy for the muscles and tendons of her paws.
There are two groups of target for every cat. The first one is when your cat target one or two areas in the home, usually near important territorial areas such as: sleeping area, litter tray, hunting or play areas. The second one is your cat undertake more widespread and destructive scratching in highly visible sites such as: doorways, windows, prominent furnishings – like sofas.
WHAT YOU CAN DO IF YOUR CAT SCRATCHING IS YOUR FURNITURE?
- The easiest but the most painful method for cat is declawing. Faced with cat scratching problems, many people consider declawing surgery. But many veterinarians believe declawing is a painful and unnecessary surgery and refuse to do it for humane reasons. Instead, they advocate training your cat to use a scratching post.
- Make sure there are multiple scratching opportunities. Cats often like to scratch after eating and sleeping, so be sure there is something to scratch near where they eat and sleep. A scratching post is an excellent investment for your cat. It will allow her to scratch, stretch and exercise all at once. If you want to provide your cat not only with scratching surface, but and places where she can climb, perch and sleep you should consider cat tree.
- Cover the furniture with something your cat does not like: double sided tape, some plastic or aluminum foil. Some cats dislike the feeling and sound of foil, and most cats hate things that stick to their fur. Double-sided sticky tape used in carpet installation works well, but be sure the tape won’t harm your cat or furniture.
- Keep your cat mentally stimulated and offers her plenty of opportunity for exercise, and she will has less opportunity to be destructive in your home. If your cat is frustrated and bored, she may scratch your furniture or tear your drapes. Give her enough play time. Cats are motivated by smell, sound, texture and movement. The toys you use should aim to cover all these aspects. Discover your cat’s preferences by presenting a variety different sized toy made from different materials and watch her reaction to gauge her preferences.
- Cutting the nails regularly may help keep a cat from scratching the furniture, or at least reduce the damage done by its scratching. Get your kitten used to having its nails clipped while it is young, praise her while you clip the nail and reward her with a treat.
- Booby trap the furniture with a soda can with some pennies in it, so that if cat scratches, it makes a noise.
- Use a doorknob alarm on your curtains. When pinned to the drapes, the alarm will sound every time your cat tries to use curtains as a ladder.
- Consider a window perch for your feline friend. It will give your cat hours of entertainment – especially if you place a bird or squirrel feeder in the garden outside the window. Be sure the window is closed so your pet won’t fall out.
- When you catch your cat scratching furniture, try squirting her with a water pistol or squirt bottle and use a firm ‘no’. Of course, this won’t stop your cat when you are not around.
- If your cat is gaining access to a high bookcase by leaping from a nearby chair, move the chair. Without her launchpad, your cat will no longer be able to reach her perch.
- You can also try taping inflated balloons to the problem areas. When your cat pops one with her claws, she will avoid scratching there again. However, try this only when you are at home, so you can pick up the balloon pieces before your cat tries to eat them.
- There are training devices that keep cats off forbidden areas by making annoying sounds. They are available at pet supply stores, catalogs and websites.
- If your cat still scratches in appropriate places, use some sprays like bitter apple or actual orange peels, which are good deterrents.
All forms of physical punishment should be avoided since they can cause fear or aggression toward the owner, and at best, the cat will only learn to stop the scratching while the owner is around.
It does not matter which method you will choose to prevent your furniture destroying, every cat owner mush know that it is impractical and unfair to expect cats to stop scratching entirely.
Petar Petrov is founder of CozyCatFurniture.com. His site together with the cat furniture they offer, try to help people make their cat’s life better. Get your free cat newsletter and learn more about Cat Cares, Cat Health, Cat Behavior, Training Cat and Cat Breeds at CozyCatFurniture.com.