Cats are wonderful, funny, mysterious, regal and of course have natural instincts to sharpen their claws. Often they don’t make the distinction between your expensive furniture and a designated cat scratching post which can be frustrating and costly for you. You can’t really fault your kitty for doing something that is a natural instinct to a cat. This is natural cat behavior. This is how they remove old claw sheathes and is a behavior you can’t hope to curb. How to keep cats from scratching furniture without declawing them is something I’m sure every cat owner would love to know.
Declawing cats to save your furniture is barbaric and inhumane treatment of your cat and is definitely not the answer. Cat declawing is basically cutting off the tips of their fingers. It’s the equivalent of having your fingers amputated down to the knuckles. The pain and trauma your cat experiences lasts long after the physical wounds have healed. You would have to be a monster to do this to a pet you profess to love. There are other, more humane approaches to saving your furniture and absolutely other alternatives to declawing a cat.
It’s up to you to manage their claws and re-direct them to areas and items that is ok for them to scratch instead of your nice furniture.
So first off, yelling at cats doesn’t work and hitting them when they are doing something you don’t like is never appropriate. All that will happen when you punish them for clawing your furniture is that they will associate the punishment with you and not the act of clawing and they will wait till you’re not around to continue their quest to remove their old claws.
Provide Alternate, More Appealing Scratching Surfaces
You need to provide alternate, more appealing surfaces to scratch than your beloved couch. A more appealing scratching surface has several important features.
1. The scratching surface needs to be steady. If it is lightweight and wobbly or the cat thinks it might fall on them when they start scratching they will not want to endanger themselves and will look for other, safer options like your couch. So any cat scratching post or cat scratchers you provide your cat has to have some weight to it so it is steady and can stay steady even with the weight of a cat (or cats) leaning into it.
2. The scratching surface also needs to have some height to it. It should be taller than your cat with his arms stretched out. Cats like to be fully stretched out when scratching. If they feel cramped with not enough space to fully stretch out when scratching, again they will look for another option that feels more comfortable for them. The surface should also be wide enough that they can stretch out horizontally as well as vertically as some cats prefer that option. You might have to provide both a cat scratching post and pad to accomplish this.
3. You also need to provide a material that your cat enjoys scratching. Carpet is an option though it gets shredded pretty fast and needs to be replaced often. Cat’s claws can get stuck in that which can be annoying to your cat and even possibly dangerous and cause injury to them.)
ClawSkinz® scratching posts are cool because they allow your to replace just the carpet on the post and not have to buy a whole new scratching post every time the carpet gets worn out so that is a good money saving option. Sisal is a natural fiber rope that is often used for a cat scratching post because it is the closest to the feel of a tree for a cat and cats like this material.
Another material that can also work for cat scratchers is cardboard. The cardboard cat scratcher from PetFusion, pictured to the left, is a fun, visually artistic cat scratcher that not only do cats enjoy lounging on it as much as scratching but it will also look great in your home.
You might have to try out different materials to find just the right material your finicky feline prefers or provide several different materials to appeal to changing moods.
Some things you can do to make the cat scratching post and pads more appealing is to sprinkle them with catnip which can irresistibly draw them to the scratching posts and pads. You can also put them in sunny locations which is especially appealing to cats.
Make sure to put a cat scratching post or pad in every room that has an item of furniture they might be tempted by so there is a more appealing option available.
Make Your Furniture Unappealing and Unpleasant to Scratch
In addition to making your cat scratcher more appealing to your cat than your furniture you should also make your furniture unappealing and unpleasant for your cat to scratch.
Double sided sticky tape (also called Sticky Paws) is one option that can help protect furniture from cats. This is something your cat will not enjoy. You may be hesitant to put sticky tape on your nice furniture but it can save your furniture and once your cat has been conditioned to associate scratching your furniture with sticky unpleasantness you can take the tape off the furniture for good. It’s not something you have to do forever and it’s very effective so keep this as an option to consider.
Cats can be reconditioned in 6 months or less with this option. Make sure to use removable double sided tape that has lighter adhesive and test it out on a small area of your furniture first to see how it affects the fabric before you go all out and put it everywhere. Sticky Paws is a double sided tape made specifically for this use and is generally safe for most furniture. Some other cat scratch furniture protectors are vinyl pieces you cat attach to the corners of a couch.
Manage Their Claws
Frequent trimming of your cat’s nails is also quite helpful as the tips are duller and don’t have the sharp hooks that do the most damage to furniture.
You might want to also consider putting some plastic caps (also called Soft Claws or Soft Paws) on the nails. Soft Claws go right over the nail and are glued on. They only last about 6 weeks or so before the nail grows to the point where it pushes the cap off and you have to put on a new set. With plastic claw caps on even when they go through the motions of scratching they can’t damage anything. This is a more high maintenance option but still very effective.
Comprehensive Overview on Soft Paws For Cats