My cats have decided to tear up my couch and the carpet. They are not declawed, and they do it even when there plenty of other things for them to play with. What can I do?
By Peter McCarthy
Okay – So, you love your cats, but you love your furniture too. Your two loves may not be compatible
If your cats are scratching the couch and the carpet, you may be wondering how to stop this behavior. No one wants to see their claws sink into prized upholstery! Here are some tips on how to keep your kitties from shredding your things.
Be sure you know WHY they are doing it:
Cats scratch for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, they do it to mark their territory or to remove the sheaths from their claws. Sometimes, your cats might be playing with each other and they scratch as a part of that playtime. They may scratch because they are stressed out. They could even be scratching in an attempt to tell you something is wrong with them.
If you keep the reason for the scratching in mind, it can help you find ways to stop or prevent them from scratching where they shouldn’t.
“I have 2 cats, but one of my cats loves to scratch things while the other does not. How can I stop my cats from scratching without being so cruel as to put them in a crate?”
How you can stop cats scratching furniture
- Teach your cat to avoid the problem areas (area rugs, couches and chairs) by using a product that is available at most pet stores. There is a liquid spray that you can use on your rugs and furniture that tastes bitter to animals. In other words, when they lick it off their fur after scratching the rug, they will likely decide it isn’t so great and won’t want to do it again anytime soon.
- Keep them busy by giving them toys and attention. (Many cats enjoy feather toys.) If you keep your cats well-exercised and give them plenty of toys to play with, they may be less inclined to play with the furniture. Make sure not only to play with your cats at least once a day but also have an assortment scattered around the house so that they can “hunt” when you are not home or at night when you are sleeping.
- If the problem is that your cats are bored, give them more to do to keep their minds busy. Set up a tall cat tree for them with plenty of scratching areas and toys. They will be occupied for hours!
If at first you don’t succeed…
“I have one cat who is an absolute demon when it comes to scratching the furniture. Anything that is within his reach, he will use his claws on. I’ve tried having multiple scratching posts but he doesn’t care for any of them – not even the carpeted ones. I’ve also tried spraying them with bitter apple, which he then just licks off. What can I do to stop this behavior?”
- Give them items they can destroy on their own, such as cardboard boxes or paper. Paper used for packing in delivered products is perfect for this. Cats will sit on it, scratch on it, even try using it for hiding during play.
- Put up a scratching post in every room of the house. We’ve used Alpine scratchers, strategically placed in front of scratching targets, with a lot of success, and there’s also an attractive lounger that serves as a great scratching post.
“My cats love the scratching posts that are made of sisal rope wrapped around a post. Maybe if you tried providing something like that your kitty would be happy. Good luck!”
Cats still scratching furniture? Try these…
- Put double-sided tape on objects they might scratch. The cat will not like the feel and won’t scratch it as much. Clear tape may also preserve the look of your home.
- When all else fails, put your cat in a crate when you are not home, denying them the opportunity for a scratching freak out.
The cat scratching furniture problem is a tricky one. It can be solved by trying out different solutions until you find the one that works for your situation and your feline friend, but it’s important to keep in mind what they’re getting from their behavior as well before deciding how to fix it.
Cats scratch because of instinctual urges or desires such as marking territory with scent glands located on their paws, stretching after being inactive too long, exercising muscles used during hunting prey, relieving stress-induced by boredom or anxiety caused by a change in environment (e.g., moving house) or even just playing around!
You’ll have to try several methods at once if you want to find which works best for both parties involved, so take care not to get discouraged if some ideas don’t work right away.
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