You know the stereotype: Cat owners can’t have nice furniture, because cats will always scratch the couch, unless they’re declawed. If you have one or more cats, you might already have furniture damaged by scratching. However, there’s good news: Most cats can be stopped from scratching inappropriately without the pain and long-term side effects of declawing surgery.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that holds true for the prevention of inappropriate scratching. By raising kittens to scratch only appropriate objects, you can keep furniture off-limits from day one.
Start with a scratching post as tall as the kitten will be at adulthood when standing on its hind legs and stretching. Cats need to stretch to their full height when scratching in order to exercise muscles, tendons, and ligaments, as well as to mark their territory. If your scratching post isn’t tall enough, your couch will end up being used as a substitute.
Next, make sure at least two different types of scratching surface are available. My cat loves textured cardboard scratch pads and sisal rope posts. Some cats might prefer carpet or wood. If you can afford it, a large cat tree with multiple textures is a good investment, compared to replacing your furniture later.
If you’re short on money but have a spare bedroom with a wall you don’t mind sacrificing to entertain the cats, a wall can be covered in carpet remnants for scratching and climbing.
If Your Cat is Already Scratching
Prevention is all well and good, but what if your cat is already halfway through destroying your sofa? If you need a quick fix for scratching, try Soft Paws. A vet or groomer can teach you to apply the nail caps at home, and they’ll fix the problem while you work on encouraging the cat to try scratching more acceptable objects.
Another good way to stop scratching quickly is to apply double-sided tape to the surfaces being scratched. The sticky feel is off-putting to cats, and discourages them from scratching. There are also some commercial products offered that are essentially wide, long sheets of double-sided tape designed to cover an entire sofa arm. Like Soft Paws, tape is a temporary solution and should be combined with offering more acceptable scratching surfaces and rewarding the cat for using them.
The Bottom Line
Scratching is essential to a cat’s mental and physical well-being. Even if it were possible to stop a cat from scratching entirely, it would make the cat unhappy and make it hard for it to stay fit and relaxed. If you’ve been trying to stop your cat from scratching, you may need to refocus your efforts and instead provide more appropriate items for scratching. A temporary fix that stops a cat from scratching is just that: temporary. The long-term solution to property damage from scratching is to redirect it to appropriate items.