Pet Info

Cat scratching furniture

This article appears courtesy of Dr Kim Kendall
East Chatswood Cat Clinic
329 Penshurst St. Willoughby NSW 2068
Ph 02 9417 6613 (24 hours)

How do I stop my cat scratching my furniture?

Cats evolved to live in a dangerous world, where the safest place to be was up a tree. They also lived in a very low density environment with hardly any other cats around in their desert habitat, so they developed a sort of email system - left a message on a tree till the next cat came by and picked it up. So cats leave visual information by scratching trees - which also sharpens their claws ready to climb in a hurry – and also they leave behind a subtle smell from glands in their paws and from their face to give an individual 'scent signature'.

So when your cat is clawing your furniture think of it as a message that he's sure you are going to want. And jumping up high as being a way to guarantee safety.

There are some really good ways to keep your cat happy and your furniture safe. It is much easier to reward cats for doing the right thing than to keep pouncing on them for doing the wrong thing. Just think how hard it is to figure out what is bothering your cat if it only hisses or cries- you have to keep guessing.

So treat your cat like a toddler: give it the ways to do the right thing, then ignore the wrong thing. The first is to get a REALLY GOOD scratching post. It needs to be at least one metre high (so your cat can have a good stretch on it) and be sturdy enough to withstand your cat pulling down on it. That is why your cat loves your couch - it doesn't move when they dig their claws in.

Put the new post near where the cat scratches (usually somewhere near their food and sleeping spots) and rub their feet on it. Catnip often attracts them to the post as well. Play with toys on the post or put some food on top so your cat will explore and discover they can dig their claws in usefully.

Once your cat has started using the post, move it away: and then start to MAKE YOUR COUCH UNATTRACTIVE by wrapping it in bubble-wrap or double-sided tape (cats hate sticky things on their toes). You can also spray repellents on the couch - BUT NOT UNTIL YOUR CAT IS USING THE POST; otherwise, they will just choose something else you might not want scratched.