The fact that cats love to sharpen their nails on furniture in the house may only seem like a destructive behavior to their owners, but that's not quite the case. For pussies, what speaks louder is the natural need to keep their nails sharp and also leave visual and olfactory signs on the object, in addition to marking the territory and making this very clear to other animals (cats or not). Furthermore, scratching is a form of physical activity for cats, as it stretches and tightens the shoulders, legs and paws. As this action is very instinctive for them, you need creativity and effort to protect furniture and other items in the house. However, remember that nothing is impossible.
Method 1 of 4: Understanding and Redirecting Behavior
Step 1. Understand the purpose of scratching
A cat doesn't show this behavior just to irritate the owner. Scratching is a way of exercising the muscles in the animal's shoulders, feet and back. In addition, this behavior makes the nails very sharp and removes the outer skin of each one of them.
Cats also like to scratch to mark territory. The feet of these animals have glands whose smell is not noticed by humans, but by other pussies
Step 2. Be patient and understanding
You love this kitten, don't you? These animals know this and end up being quite reciprocal. They end up doing everything they can to please the owner, as long as they know they will be praised and supported.
With time and a little practice, your pet will end up leaving the furniture aside and using the alternatives you have specially provided for this
Step 3. Buy at least one scraper for the cat
This object will be the solution to all your problems, you just need to be patient and encourage the animal to use it.
- When buying the scraper, there are a few things to consider. Look for an object as tall as the animal when it stretches and stands upright. Buy a scratcher that is firm and won't bend or bend with the animal's weight. However, the scraper cannot be heavy. and big at the same time as it can fall on top of the pussy.
- There are several types and models of scratchers. Some are like a rug and some are like a pole. There are scrapers made of hemp, for example. The important thing is to experiment. It's better to have several scrapers around the house than none.
- Some cats prefer to scratch horizontal surfaces such as carpeting, so buying a similar scratcher would be ideal. In this case, there are options for cardboard, sisal and even carpet.
- Avoid surfaces that are too soft. A scraper needs to be like a tree trunk (the natural element of cats): rough and tough. Sisal coated objects are the best and the more fibers the better! That way, that brand new sofa won't look as attractive to the pussy anymore.
Step 4. Place the scraper in a strategic position
Examine the cat-scratched furniture and place the scratcher as close as possible.
- If you've just adopted a cat, place the scraper where the animal usually goes.
- If the cat is scratching furniture in different rooms, spread scratchers all over them. Having more than one scraper is ideal, especially if the house has more than one floor or you have more than one pet cat. This way, you can reduce the probability of the animal scratching the furniture in those rooms without specific options for it to scratch.
- If the pet's favorite place to scratch is that chair you sit in every day, leave the scratcher next to it. Another tip is to place an item of your own on top of the scratcher or use the top shelf as a place to store personal items; thus, the cat will identify the item as something private to the owner. This is very important if the animal is extremely attached to someone in the household. Placing the scraper next to that person's favorite chair will make the object much more attractive to the pussy.
Step 5. Train the animal to use the scraper
It is possible to condition the cat to use a specific object to sharpen its nails. To encourage him, place him in front of the object, stroke his fur and wait.
- To make your scraper more attractive, rub some catnip on the surface. It can be oil, spray or the herb itself.
- Whenever the cat uses the scraper, praise him and give him a treat to eat. Some experts suggest that you place the animal's paws on the scraper and move them as if they were scratching the surface; however, some cats hate being forced to do anything, and this can even have a negative effect.
- Another option is to use your own nails to show the cat how to scratch.
- It is also possible to hang a toy on the scraper. This will attract the cat's attention and, during play, he may discover the delight of scratching that surface.
- Another interesting method of conditioning is to avoid greeting your pussy as soon as you walk in the door. Instead, walk to the scraper first! Get close to the object, scratch your nails on the surface and demonstrate how happy you are to see the kitten. When he approaches and starts scratching, start stroking his fur and praising him.
Step 6. Adjust the position and type of scratcher as needed
If the cat is not caring about the object, feel free to move it elsewhere. Don't push the envelope! Rather, try to customize the item according to the animal's tastes.
- For example, if the animal is agitated near the scraper, try laying it down. This way, the object will be smaller and, consequently, less threatening, while the cat gets used to the novelty.
- Cats develop preferences, just like humans. They might like a specific type of scratcher. So use that surface! It could be sisal, carpet or even a curtain fabric. Getting your pet to stop ruining furniture and start using a scraper will be a lot easier if you use something he likes.
Method 2 of 4: Ending Wrong Behavior
Step 1. Use the tone of voice to correct the animal's behavior
A "NO!" deciding whenever the animal starts sharpening its nails on some furniture can help reduce the cat's interest in that surface.
- If you don't like to scream, clap your hands or shake some coins. Then pick up the animal and place it on top of the scraper. Don't show anger or get out of control. Remember, the cat is just following its own instincts. You are human, which means you can control yourself very well.
- Never fight with the animal when it is near or using the scraper. The cat needs to associate the object with pleasant things and happy moments.
Step 2. Use water to prevent the cat from scratching improperly
If you have a sprayer nearby, try getting your cat wet whenever he starts scratching furniture. Preferably do this before the cat starts scratching. The water doesn't hurt, but it helps the cat to associate that behavior with an unpleasant splash!
Another tip is to use a blend of citrus essential oils. Almost all cats hate the smell of orange oil, for example. Mix equal parts (about a cap of each) of eucalyptus and orange oils in a spray bottle of water. To test the solution, spray a little on a damp cloth and give the animal a sniff. Before each use, shake the bottle well - oil and water don't mix very well. This method not only teaches the cat not to scratch furniture, it also leaves the house smelling really good
Step 3. Redirect the cat's attention
Sometimes, it is necessary to prevent the animal from damaging the furniture in a physical way. That is, whenever you see the pussy scratching in the wrong place, pick it up and find something else for it to do. Give him a toy, pet him for a few minutes, or do something nicer than scratching.
Method 3 of 4: Limiting the Animal's Access to Items It Likes to Scratch
Step 1. Make problematic furniture less attractive to the pussy
Some objects become animal favorites for no apparent reason. In this case, there are several options:
- Apply double-sided tape to the object. No cat likes that sticky feel of the tape, as the paws are very sensitive areas of the animal's body. So he'll soon stop climbing that piece of furniture.
- If the sofa is too big, for example, stick the tape over the arms and also to the back - where the cat usually likes to play and hide from the splashes of water.
- On carpets or rugs, place sheets of sticky paper with the sticky side up.
- Double-sided tape can be glued to many surfaces: curtain, blind, carpet covering… anything that pleases the animal.
- A very good tip is to take a plastic or vinyl treadmill and place it along the back of the sofa with the raised side facing up. The animal is not going to like the feeling of those little tips in its paws.
- If the animal likes to get ready whenever it is alone at home, cover the furniture with plastic covers. Almost no cat likes the feel or smell of this material. Another tip is to place a full bladder under the sofa cover. That way, when the animal scratches the piece of furniture, the balloon will pop and scare it. This association is very effective and usually works very well.
- There is also already on the market a kind of battery-operated mat that is great for training the animal to stay away from certain places.
Step 2. Consider creating a barrier with the help of a motion detector attached to a spray or ultrasonic noise
What is recommended in this case is to correct the animal remotely so that it does not associate the punishment with humans. If he makes such an association, he may start secretly scratching furniture or even present fear of any humans.
Such products can be found in physical stores or online
Step 3. If you have antiques or furniture of sentimental value, how about putting them in a specific room and always closing the door?
Another step is to advise everyone in the house that the cat must never enter that area. It is important that humans take this care, as the animal does not know the difference between one piece of furniture and another.
If the cat manages to enter the room for any reason, quickly expel it so that it associates the behavior with something negative
Method 4 of 4: Limiting the Cat's Ability to Scratch
Step 1. Keep the animal's nails neatly trimmed
As part of the reason cats scratch is to keep their claws sharp and "sand out" excess growth, you can act and do this before they do.
- If you don't know how to cut your cat's nails, ask your veterinarian to teach you. Otherwise, you could seriously injure the cat.
- If the animal is not used to this procedure, it may feel nervous at first. However, you must insist. Don't forget to praise him throughout the entire process so the animal knows it's for his own good.
- In an animal with no access to the outside of the house, it can be interesting to remove the tips of the claws. This can be done with a nail clipper (never use those clippers made for dogs), but you need to know the correct line of cut so as not to hurt the animal. The first time, ask a professional to help you.
Step 2. Put nail guards on the cat
Nowadays, this product is already widely available in the market. Its function is to cover the claws and, consequently, protect the furniture. These protectors can be glued at home or, if you want, at the veterinarian's office. The product falls off within three to six weeks and then needs to be reapplied.
Step 3. Let the animal out of the house whenever possible
If the cat is bred free, light and loose, it has probably already found a tree to scratch. Encourage this behavior and keep letting it out. Scratching the tree will lessen the desire to spoil the furniture.
Step 4. Have you ever heard of onychotomy?
This procedure could even be a quick and easy way to prevent damage to furniture, however, it is surgery and as such, it poses many risks.
- Although onychotomy is legal in many cities in the United States, it is prohibited in Brazil - along with surgeries that remove the bark, meowing, part of the ears, etc.
- Such surgery involves amputating the finger (and not just the claws) at the last joint. Some animals adapt well, but others suffer chronic pain and later develop arthritis!
- Also, mutilating the animal in this way takes away one of its defenses - perhaps the most important.
- When adopting a kitten from an NGO, the contract usually contains a clause preventing this procedure from being performed (although prohibited, many "veterinarians" still agree to do the onychotomy).
- Scratchers with platforms and burrows will interest the pussy much more. The price is not very low, but these objects usually satisfy the animal's need to sharpen its claws and also demarcate the territory. Furthermore, climbing and jumping are great exercises.
- Cats hate citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons. Therefore, a tip is to temporarily place orange peels around the furniture. If the cat finds a way to get past this barrier, spray a little citrus spray on the furniture itself.
- Never cover the scraper with the same fabric as the sofa, curtain, rug, etc. If you do, the animal will make an association between the two materials.
- If you want and have carpentry skills, it is possible to make a scraper at home. Take a look at this article to learn.
- If you have more than one cat in the house, this may interfere with scratching. If one animal is being dominated by the other, it is important to provide a scraper for that animal in another room as well. Remember that each animal has a favorite place and territory. The same happens with the use of the litter box: many cats demand one exclusively for him.
- Place the scraper on a stable surface so the object does not fall under the cat's weight.
- Never yell at the animal. This will only serve to weaken your relationship, as the pussy will not be able to understand the screams as punishment. The cat simply understands this behavior in a negative way and, for that very reason, leaves the area right away and then goes back to doing what he was doing.
- Be patient with the cat. If you feel exhausted, contact your veterinarian and ask for a behavioral psychologist. This professional can help a lot, but it can be avoided if you have just a little more patience and persistence.