By nature, cats scratch. In fact, their claws are made to scratch for a number of reasons. If you own a cat, you may be well aware by now that one of the downsides of this can be destructive scratching. Your furniture, carpet or drapes may have fallen victim to kitty’s natural instincts. If this is the case, don’t despair. There are ways to help minimize destructive cat scratching without breaking the bank (or your sanity).
Why Do Cats Scratch?
To mark their territory.
Did you know cat paws have scent glands? When they scratch, they leave their scent behind, so by scratching your carpet, sofa or drapes, kitty may be instinctively marking her territory.
To sharpen their claws.
In the wild, claws are one of kitty’s main defense mechanisms. To keep them nice and sharp, she has to scratch away the outer sheath (dead layers of tissue) to keep her claws in tiptop shape.
To exercise and have fun.
Scratching helps them stretch out and expend lots of energy. Many times, when kitty gets really excited to see you, she’ll celebrate by scratching. This is normal, we just want kitty scratching the appropriate things.
How To Minimize Destructive Scratching
We don’t want to completely minimize kitty’s scratching behavior. As mentioned above, it’s an important, naturally instinctive behavior for kitty. However, we do want to curb scratching on inappropriate surfaces. Predominantly, this can be achieved by providing a plethora of appropriate surfaces for her to scratch.
Every cat is different, which means each cat has different preferences regarding which type of material she likes to scratch. Once you determine what material your cat likes best (soft surfaces like your plush carpet and soft sofa, or rough surfaces, like coarse tile) you can figure out which type of posts to make or buy.
If you’re not sure what material your cat likes best, you can purchase a variety of posts and see which ones kitty is most attracted to.
Place plenty of posts all around the house in kitty’s favorite scratch spots. Reward her for scratching them with lots of treats and kisses.
Use catnip and toys.
Don’t be afraid to apply catnip scent or hang toys on the scratching posts to make them more attractive.
Trim her nails.
Declawing should never be an option, but trimming kitty’s nails is. If her nails are super long and sharp, she’s more likely to do more damage. Consider cutting her nails, but be sure not to cut too close to the quick (her flesh). This can be painful and cause kitty to bleed.
Many local veterinarians have cat clippers you can purchase, and your vet will be more than happy to demonstrate how to properly clip her nails without harming her.
Scratch-proof kitty’s favorite objects.
To make your sofa, drapes, and decorations less attractive, put sandpaper or double-sided sticky tape over them to deter kitty from getting to them. You may also put sandpaper on the floor where kitty would stand to scratch your couch. If possible, remove her favorite objects to completely take away the temptation.
Use plastic nail caps.
The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also suggests using plastic nail caps, which are applied temporarily with adhesive and generally come off in four to six weeks. They ensure that when kitty scratches, she doesn’t do any damage.
Offer rewards, and only if necessary, startle kitty.
Positive reinforcement can work wonders. If kitty is scratching her post like she should, offer her plenty of treats and attention. This will quickly teach kitty that she is doing something right and should keep scratching those posts.
If you catch kitty destructively scratching, startling her with a spray water bottle or with a loud noise, like a pop can full of pennies, is an option. However, this shouldn’t be your first go-to, as it can make kitty fearful of you. Do so only when necessary.
If you’ve exhausted all your resources and are still at a loss, consider calling a certified animal behaviorist. Certified behaviorists can get you the help you need to get kitty’s scratching under control.
Thanks for stopping by! We’re glad to see you. If you have had success minimizing destructive cat scratching, please comment below and let us know what worked for you.