How you can hold your cat from scratching your furnishings: Four strategies

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  • One way to prevent your cat from scratching your furniture is to introduce a scratching post.
  • You can also use plastic nail caps or keep the cat’s nails short to reduce their destructiveness.
  • When all else fails, use physical detergents like sandpaper or double-sided tape to protect your furniture.
  • Please refer to Insider’s Insider Reference Library for more information.

Lots of cat owners have been there: you love your cat, but you don’t love its scratching habits.


The best products to protect your furniture from cat scratches

It is natural and very common for cats to scratch things, and unfortunately that sometimes includes chairs, couches, carpets, and more.

Fortunately, there are many ways you can stop your cat from scratching everything in the house. Here are four veterinary recommended methods.

1. Provide your cat with scratching posts

Giving your cat something to scratch can prevent them from scratching things they shouldn’t be scratching.

A scratching post is a great tool for giving your cat a chance to scratch. The following should be observed in a scratching post:

The posts must be of sufficient height for the cat to scratch the post with its forelegs while standing on its hind legs, says Ryane E. Englar, DVM, DABVP, director of veterinary skills development at the University of Arizona Veterinary College.

It is also important that the post is stable. Cats can scratch very hard, and a sturdy post will keep your kitten from being crushed.

While the posts are usually upright, some cats prefer a horizontal post, according to Englar. Experiment and see what your cat likes best.

When it comes to materials, it mostly depends on your cat’s preferences. Common post materials are carpet, sisal, and bare wood.

Important: When choosing a carpet post, Englar says it is important to avoid a carpeted post that has a texture similar to the carpet in your home, as this will create mixed signals for the cat.

You have several options where you can place your contribution. “Cats usually scratch to mark their territory, sharpen their claws, and / or stretch, so posts are often strategically placed next to the cat’s sleeping quarters to make stretching easier after napping,” says Englar.

Alternatively, you can place the post where it is most likely to be scratched.

How to get your cat interested in a scratching post

Englar says some ways you can get the cat to scratch the post are:

  • Turn it into a play area with toys
  • Sprinkle catnip on the post
  • Rub the post with tuna oil
  • Imitate scratching behavior on the post itself

2. Use physical detergents

Another method you can use is to put physical deterrents near the furniture that cats typically scratch at.

An example of a physical deterrent is packing tape, says Kristi Flynn, DVM, assistant professor of primary care at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. You can also use double-sided tape or sandpaper.

You should put the tape sticky side up or sprinkle sandpaper around the furniture your cat likes to scratch. Cats generally don’t like the texture of sandpaper or the feeling of tape sticking to their paws, so they’re more likely to avoid the area.

Flynn says you should also place a scratching post right next to this area so they have an alternative to scratching.

It should be noted that physical deterrents do not always work. In some cases, the cat can release the deterrent, get into the furniture, or even be encouraged to play with the material because they enjoy it, says M. Leanne Lilly, DVM, DACVB, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Medicine, Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Can you buy a spray to prevent cats from scratching furniture?

There are sprays on the market that promise to keep your cats from scratching. While this seems like a great quick fix, Flynn says these aren’t always effective. Additionally, they can be off-putting, so they are generally not recommended.

3. Use plastic nail caps

Nail caps have a dull surface that allows your cat to still scratch but prevents damage to the surfaces while still allowing the cat to make all of the scratching movements, Lilly says.

Plastic nail caps are usually put on with a medium-weight pet-safe adhesive. The downside is that they need to be replaced when the nails grow out. If your cat starts a fight when you try to touch her paws, you may need to sedate her with the help of a veterinary team, Lilly says.

If your cat is comfortable with handling its paws, you can do it yourself at home. Whether you get it done at the vet or at home, Flynn says you should be prepared to do it every month or so. Make sure you cut the nails first and watch a tutorial video online so that you can learn the correct technique for applying the nails.

Once the cat is more comfortable with nail cuts, you can work your way up to do one paw at a time, and over time, all of them at once.

4. Keep your cat’s nails short

Ideally, you should have your cat’s nails clipped about every two weeks, says Flynn. Keeping the nails short will not make them as sharp, which will result in less damage if they scratch the furniture.

“Start by cutting one nail a day and giving them a treat each time. That way, they learn that it is worth sitting still to cut your nails, and it’s not overwhelming Last nail is done, the first one is ready to be trimmed again, “says Flynn.

Over time, your cat will become more comfortable with nail cuts, and you can work your way up to cut a whole paw at a time, and then over time all of the paws at a time. You should give them several goodies in these cases, says Flynn.

Insider to take away

Be patient when trying to get your cat to stop scratching furniture. Changes won’t happen overnight, so it’s important to be consistent. “Sometimes, no matter what you do, cats are cats and they still scratch,” says Englar.

Experiment with different methods to find out what works best for you and your furry cats. It may take some trial and error, but it is worth protecting your furniture.