Every cat owner knows that kitties love to scratch their claws on things. Whether it's while they're stretching or your cat is scratching up your couch while playing, it can be quite a nuisance. Rather than surrender to those claws and resign yourself to a life of scratched-up upholstery, take a look at why cats scratch and what you can do to mitigate damage.
WHY DO CATS SCRATCH?
There are several reasons why cats scratch! It's important to first note that scratching is a natural behavior and is not a sign that anything is wrong with your cat, and in itself, should not be considered bad behavior. Scratching is an action that helps cats emotionally, socially, as well as physically.
One thing that scratching does is mark territory. Did you know that your cat has scent glands between its toes? This helps them to leave their scent and let other cats and creatures know that they've been there or "own" certain spaces or objects. This can also help with self-defense situations in warding off other cats and letting them know that they should stay away.
Scratching also helps cats maintain their nails. It gets rid of the dead outer parts of their nails and keeps them sharp. You can think of scratching essentially as cats giving themselves a manicure!
Last of all, scratching helps cats stretch. Stretching not only feels good for cats (as it does for us too), but it also helps keep their muscles strong and even flushes out toxins that can build up after long periods of laying around and being inactive.
Scratching has a lot of benefits for cats! However, it may not be beneficial to you and your peace of mind if you notice your cat scratching furniture or other objects around your home.
HOW TO STOP CATS FROM SCRATCHING FURNITURE
The first thing you should do when you're trying to keep your cat from scratching furniture is provide them with something that they can scratch instead! Some examples are cat trees or cat scratching posts. These are designed with the cat's claws in mind, making them a safe option for kitties to use for stretching or sharpening their claws. However, if your cat is used to scratching up your couch or other furniture, they might not seem interested in a scratching post right away.
One thing you can do is add a little bit of catnip. This is a good way to attract them to their new tree or post. You can also give them treats after you've noticed them scratching at their post rather than your sofa.
If you're still noticing your cat scratching up things around your home, you can also use a variety of different deterrent options. One idea is creating a spray that will repel your pet. You can easily do this by combining equal parts of water and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle. Cats are also not fans of citrusy smells, so you can use water with lemon juice. Spray this mixture on your furniture where your cat is scratching. Just be sure you don't use anything that could harm your cat (or stain your furniture).
A few other deterrent methods are using materials that protect your furniture. One method is using cat-friendly, double-sided tape, such as Sticky Paws, on spots that you don't want them scratching. This makes the surface sticky, which cats don't love, and will keep them away. Be sure you're using something that is designed for cats and won't harm their sensitive paws. An alternative is covering areas with tin foil or plastic wrap. If these aren't good options for you, you can use protectors or caps for your cat's nails, such as Purrfect Paw or Soft Paws. These may require a vet to put them on, but they can be another good option if your cat is tolerant of them.
Keeping your cats' nails regularly trimmed is also another good way to keep them from scratching up your furniture. Trim their nails every 2-3 weeks. Be slow and gentle, and use treats to keep them distracted. Be sure you're using cat-specific nail tools and ask your veterinarian for pointers if needed.
Last of all, and perhaps most importantly, it should be noted that declawing your cat does them more harm than good and is even illegal in some states. While it may seem like a quick fix to them ruining your furniture or clothing, it can leave your cat with chronic pain for the rest of their life. Declawing isn't just simply trimming their claws short; it is a surgery that involves amputating parts of your cat's paws. Many cities in the US now actually ban this practice.
While your cat's scratching can be annoying, remember that there are many things you can do to prevent them from ruining your furniture. Scratching is a normal and necessary part of their daily life, so provide them with something safe for them to scratch to keep them happy and healthy.
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