Cats are born with the instinct to claw. It is an innate behavior that cannot and should not be stopped. When someone has bonded with a cat, they usually put up with a certain amount of furniture destruction before resorting to drastic measures like declawing the cat or getting rid of it. Understanding why cats scratch will hopefully prevent future furniture damage as well as homeless cats.
Scratching affords a cat the opportunity to stretch shoulder and foreleg muscles as well as keeping the claws themselves healthy by peeling away the dead outer layer. The scent pads on a cat’s paw leave invisible scent cues which helps mark a cat’s territory, warning other cats away from one cat’s real estate. Cats also scratch when under stress.
Knowing that your cat needs to scratch, give him an alternate option to your living room sofa or your favorite armchair. Carefully observing your cat will give you a clue as to his scratch preferences: carpet vs sisal or wood, vertical vs horizontal. So, with this knowledge, you can choose a scratching object to your cat’s liking. Location is also vital since cats like to have their scratchings out in the open. Place the scratching post in a high traffic area or near important cat territories like windows, nap places or food stations. Above all do not repair tattered scratch objects. If his marks disappear, your cat might lose interest in the scratch object.
It is important to discourage a cat from scratching certain objects early on. Using a double-sided ssticky tape works well on upholstery since cats dislike surfaces that stick to their paws. Strong scents like citrus deodorants or Vicks VapoRub will also keep a cat away from forbidden objects, even temporarily wrapping chair arms and table legs will help train a cat to stay away from those objects if you’re not around.
Start by placing your “legal” scratching objects next to the “illegal” targets so you can redirect your cats claws when necessary. Interrupt forbidden scratching with a loud noise then redirect your cat’s attention to the “legal” target either with a laser pointer or by dragging a lure over the “legal” target’s surface. Always praise your cat when he does the right thing. Once your cat is trained to use the correcet scratching object, you can move it to a more convenient place, a few inches at a time.
Spending a little time training your cat will give both of you a lifetime of happiness.