It can be taken for granted that there are plenty of threadbare sofas and carpets across the planet! We all know that cats need to scratch, but why does the little hell raiser insist on scratching the human furniture rather than their scratching post? Once I let Charlie and Socks through the door, I unleashed two tidal waves of fury to whirl about my furniture. However, by following the 6 steps below, my cats have taught me how to keep their human furniture scratching to a minimum. Read on to discover how!
1) I mixed up the scratching post types
By observing WHAT the cats were scratching, I understood what type of scratching post they were after. The marks high up on the sofa showed they were looking for something tall and high up whereas the threadbare carpet in the hallway showed that at least one of the cats was a fan of the horizontal scratching position. I invested in some tall and sturdy rope scratching posts (no wobble allowed!), some horizontal scratching boards and a cat tree with height levels. Remember some cats like to scratch different materials too! You can look at some of Charlie’s favourites here.
2) I learned from scratching locations
I found out that cats choose WHERE to scratch for a reason and they don’t just scratch to shed the outer layers of their claws. They also use scratching to mark their territory visually and through a scent that is transferred from glands on the underside of their paws. They also aim to mix their scent with their owners to create a new scent group! Now it all makes sense why the areas where we spend the most time are the most satisfying places for the cat to scratch.
Looking around, I could see there was a lot of scratching going on around the lounge door entrance so a strategic scratching post was added. The stairs also had gone bald in places from the times when my cats chose not to be friends and started short-lived turf wars. I swiftly added a scratching post at the top of the stairs plus some Feliway to diffuse the intensity of the battles.
The addition of a horizontal cat scratcher at the cat flap was a big success, showing that Charlie may have felt the need to mark his territory from other cats sniffing around the cat flap.
3) I changed my tactics
I now understand that cats do NOT understand the word ‘no’. Discipline is not recognised in the cat communication code. At first I tried clapping and shouting to get the cats to avoid the furniture. Did the cats stop scratching the sofa? No. All I was doing was weakening the trust I had built between my cats and I, causing negativity and a me vs. cats scenario. I realised that there was a way to deal with this without causing my relationship with the cats to suffer; by using positivity.
Think of it like this. Your boss thinks their idea is incredible (e.g. I will scratch the armchair). You know that it actually isn’t but you can’t just say ‘that’s a really naff idea!’ (e.g. clapping and shouting). You cautiously sing the praises of another related idea that is actually far better until they start to listen (see tip 4)!
4) I convinced my cats that the scratching post is the best thing ever!
Admittedly, I found this quite easy due to the nature of my two cats. My cats are obsessed with the cat nip spray by KONG naturals (below), so I put this on all their toys and scratchers to teach them they were theirs. I praised the cats when they went near the scratching posts and hid their favourite treats on them so that, when they wandered past, they associated the scratcher with a positive outcome.
I also included the scratching posts during play time so that when the cats were letting off steam and feeling the positive endorphins of exercise they were using the posts and feeling even more positive about them. Their playfulness meant they were also scratching and hanging off the posts more so they learnt that satisfying feeling of the sisal rope under their paws.
Note: Cats on a diet can be clicker trained if treats are not an option.
5) When they scratch the human furniture I picked a reaction and stuck to it
This is really hard! I decided I would deal with any further human furniture scratching in a calm and gentle way, even if the crazy furball seemed to be waiting for me to appear, staring right at me and scratching the sofa with eyes saying “your plan isn’t working human”. My strategy is to take a deep breath and SLOWLY walk up to the cat, so no negativity is created by scaring them. Then, if the cat permits, I pick them up, take them over to the scratcher and place their paws on the sisal rope while praising them.
Warning! Owners of feisty cats may want to skip out step 5. If your cat is a bit of an attention-seeker, you should probably skip this step too as they may start a ‘scratch for love campaign’.
6) I kept this up consistently
Within a month of following these tips, the amount of scratching had decreased significantly. It’s really important to keep up a positive approach throughout and requesting that everyone in the household follow it too. Remember that a scared or stressed cat is going to be more likely to scratch.
In summary, here are the top tips I followed to reduce the amount of furniture scratching in my house. If your cat is driving you crazy by scratching, it’s worth a go!
Good luck! If you try it, why not write to me and let me know how it goes by writing a comment or messaging me in the contacts area! 🙂
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